The NRL held a press conference to present its program - National Rugby League
- The National Rugby League has implemented a program to combat homophobia in partnership with Têtu magazine.
- Throughout the season, workshops will be organized in professional clubs to educate players on the taboo of homosexuality still too present in the rugby changing rooms.
- The initiators of this program were present at the NRL headquarters to present the action plan at a press conference.
The small wooden benches in a village fair version were all sold in the press room of the National Rugby League (NRL) Thursday morning when the #PlaquonsLHomophobie program was presented. In front of the public and the press, we find in particular Paul Goze, the president of the LNR, Yannick Nyanga, the former rugby player today sports director of Racing 92, Yoann Maestri, the captain of the Stade Français and two members of Têtu magazine specializing in LGBT issues.
The Rugby League has decided to join the fight against homophobia in order to promote diversity in rugby and, above all, to free up speech. So that tomorrow, gay players can live their passion without having to hide who they are. Officially, no professional player has yet dared to come out during his career, "most certainly for fear of being stigmatized and of being weakened in the locker room", explains Romain Burrel, the editorial director of Têtu. The only rugby player to have taken the plunge - Welshman Gareth Thomas - did so after retirement.
If the president of the LNR affirms that this program is in no way a response to the arrival of the Catalan Dragons (rugby league) of Israel Folau, dismissed by the Australian federation for his repeated homophobic remarks, this one "deplores "All the same his coming to France. "We would not have tolerated that in the Top 14", he says.
✅30 #PlaquonslHomophobie workshops led by @TETUmag
✅A championship day for # TOP14 and # PROD2 dedicated to the fight against # homophobia
✅The signing of the charter against homophobia at @Sports_gouv pic.twitter.com/CjbQqIn6K1
A study commissioned by the LNR
The goal of the LNR initiative is not so much to force the hand of those who prefer to keep their sexual orientation for themselves but rather to allow those who wish to do so without fear of repercussions in their career. . Because today, according to the results of a study carried out by the firm Olivier Wyman with 385 players and staff members of 30 professional clubs, 87% of those questioned believe that it is difficult to be homosexual in this environment. And for 75%, it is difficult to speak of homosexuality in rugby.
The objective of this program called "Celebrating Diversity" - which has four components: the fight against homophobia, against racism, gender equality and disability - is to educate the world of rugby on a societal problem global. How? 'Or' What ? By carrying out concrete actions with clubs through the organization of "30 workshops led by Têtu for the rugby pro family (presidents, professional and training center players, staffs, etc.), ie more than 1,500 athletes".
📣 # CelebronsLaDiversité "The idea behind these workshops is to dialogue with the whole #rugby family to raise awareness of good reflexes to fight # homophobia on a daily basis" 💬 @ romainburrel managing editor of @TETUmag 🏉🏳 🌈 # PlaquonslHomophobie pic.twitter.com/vgfsad3MO2- National Rugby League (@LNRofficiel) February 27, 2020
An inclusive championship day will also be organized monthly and dedicated to the fight against homophobia in the Top 14 and Pro D2. Also, "a partnership will be set up with the inclusive rugby club Les Coqs Festifs and the Citizen Oval association", specifies the League. “The goal is not to hold a small press conference, two or three actions and it's over. No, the goal is to make a long-term commitment, specifies Paul Goze. We will not change mentalities if we work for a short period. Do not believe that we will settle things in two weeks in the locker room. "In any case, if it had just been a com 'plan, Têtu would not have joined you," smiles Romain Burrel.
Break the silence
If Paul Goze says he is not "aware of cases of people assaulted or stigmatized in locker rooms or in clubs because of their sexual orientation", the president readily admits that "this is a subject that is not talked about, therefore it is difficult to know the extent of the problem. If there have been young people who did not come to rugby because they feared being stigmatized because of their sexual orientation, that must change. "
"It is a reality, today it is not easy to talk about her sexual orientation when she is a minority," says former international Yannick Nyanga. The idea is that difference is the norm. "Also involved in this campaign, Stade Toulousain captain Yoann Maestri wishes to" remind everyone that rugby is an inclusive sport in which everyone has their place. And the children of tomorrow must know that if they have a sexual orientation different from the majority, in quotes, they should not feel uncomfortable, the door of rugby is wide open to them. "
Installed in the front row during the press conference, Simon Gillham, the English president of CA Brive, applauded with both hands. Invited to speak, he shared his experience as president. “Rugby was not very brave in this fight for inclusiveness. We have heard jokes in the locker room on the subject of homosexuality for too long. I have a friend who was playing Exeter at the time and who chose to end his career at 20 because of that… When I see that only one player has come out, I find it terrible. "Asked about the difficulty of changing the mentalities of his players, Simon Gillham shows cash:" They will have no choice! ".
📣 #LetonsLaDiversité "We need big, big kids, fast guys ... #rugby is the sport of difference par excellence" 💬 Simon Gillham, club president of @CABCLRUGBY 🏉🏳🌈 # PlaquonslHomophobie pic.twitter .com / SnVKNjZlL4- National Rugby League (@LNRofficiel) February 27, 2020
The NRL wants to lead by example
"We put this program in place with very, very great humility, we are not here to give lessons," said the boss of the League. "I hope you will give lessons to other sports", cut Romain Burrel by pointing the finger at French football. He details: "I will put my feet in the dish, we made a cover with Antoine Griezmann to talk about homophobia, he is very aware of the problem but I cannot say, however, that the National Football League has taken over things on his own since he led the way. So I'm very happy that the NRL, it takes this subject head-on. "
For a while in the sight of Secretary of State Marlène Schiappa because of the songs with homophobic characters in the stands, the LFP took measures by stopping matches for example in case of homophobic insults emanating from the stands, before it was finally quickly abandoned. But Paul Goze does not want to turn on his competitor: “Each league carries out the actions it wants. It may be easier for us because we are less confronted with these overflows from the public. The position of the FFF and the LFP is more delicate than ours ”.
French rugby leaders have decided to focus their efforts on players, clubs and training centers. With an ambitious goal: "That within four years, players can talk freely about their sexual orientation in the locker room if it is different from that of his teammates, announces Paul Goze. I am hopeful that we can quickly change mentalities ”.
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