AAP Rugby

New gay alliance for Rugby Australia

By AAP Newswire

Rugby Australia says it hopes to grow the number of gay rugby players in Australia and educate people about homophobia through a new alliance with a number of gay-inclusive clubs.

Under the alliance, a new committee will be formed by RA with four Australian rugby clubs - Sydney Convicts, Melbourne Chargers, Brisbane Hustlers and Perth Rams - as well as UK-based International Gay Rugby.

"We want rugby to be a game that all Australians can enjoy regardless of their age, race, background, religion, gender or sexual orientation," said RA chief executive, Raelene Castle.

"This formal alliance between Rugby Australia and the clubs is a key step forward in fostering and maintaining a Rugby environment that is safe, welcoming and enjoyable for all members of the LGBTIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual) community."

The move to strengthen ties with the gay community comes in a year when the code's relationship with the group came under the spotlight.

Back in May rugby's star player in Australia, Israel Folau, had his contract terminated after he posted a picture to social media in April saying that homosexuals and other "sinners" would go to hell.

RA is currently embroiled in a multi-million dollar dispute with the deeply religious Folau, who is appealing its decision.

The case will go to court in February should further mediation fail in December.