- Title: Inclusion and 'unique comraderie' at Tokyo's gay rugby tournament
- Date: 7th October 2019
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (OCTOBER 5, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RUGBY MATCH BETWEEN WORLDWIDE BARBARIANS (PURPLE SHIRTS) AND BEIJING DEVILS (PINK SHIRTS) UNDERWAY AT INTERNATIONAL GAY RUGBY TOURNAMENT PLAYERS WEARING RAINBOW-COLOURED SOCKS VARIOUS OF BARBARIANS PLAYERS LINKING ARMS IN HUDDLE VARIOUS OF DEVILS' RUGBY PLAYER WEARING RAINBOW SOCKS GETTING DRINK OF WATER VARIOUS OF RUGBY BALLS WITH INTERNATIONAL GAY RUGBY LOGO ON VARIOUS OF MATCH UNDERWAY AMERICAN PLAYER FOR BARBARIANS MARK JORDAN CHEERING HIS TEAM (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMERICAN PLAYER FOR WORLDWIDE BARBARIANS, MARK JORDAN, SAYING: "Rugby brings unique comradery, something that you don't get in any other sport inside the US. You get the opportunity to play with people from around the world, it doesn't matter what language you speak, what colour you are or what style or brand of rugby you actually play. You just show up, stand next to your brothers, play a full match, have a great time and then drink beers afterwards." VARIOUS OF MATCH UNDERWAY PLAYER RUNNING WEARING RAINBOW-COLOURED SOCKS MAN WEARING RUGBY HAT WITH RAINBOW COLOURS ON VARIOUS OF PLAYERS APPLAUDING ONE ANOTHER AND SHAKING HANDS FOLLOWING MATCH (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT OF WORLDWIDE BARBARIANS FOUNDATION, WILLIAM HOWELL, SAYING: "With what Gareth Thomas has done, with what Nigel Owens does at the refereeing position, these are very vocal, brave people, who've come out and said it doesn't matter. Now we need to be there to support them, we need to be able to provide our players with the same type of confidence that they could do that. Give them the structure, give them the background that they could say 'I could be like that.' VARIOUS OF HOWELL GIVING SPEECH (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT OF WORLDWIDE BARBARIANS FOUNDATION, WILLIAM HOWELL, SAYING: "I would like to see World Rugby take a more active role. They have been incredibly great supporters and have really spearheaded some of the initiatives. I would like to see them incorporate more of the inclusivity, more of the tolerance in language into their training. I would like to see more of the home unions really step up and say 'we will back you up, we will be behind you'. Currently, we only have five home unions that have signed a memorandum of understanding that says they will combat homophobia in sport. Five. There are a lot of the unions that still need to take that step." HOWELL GIVING SPEECH CHILD CLAPPING PLAYERS CLAPPING (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIR OF INTERNATIONAL GAY RUGBY, BEN OWEN, SAYING: "One of the reasons we believe what we do is such a driver of social change is because by going out and playing those teams in local leagues week in, week out, our teams are going out there and saying 'we are LGBT people playing sport and we are reaching people out in all corners of the globe, people out in the countryside, people that might never have met a LGBT person before. We are going out on the pitch and, once you beat them, the first time that you win against a team you see in their eyes 'they beat us'. You know that you have earned their respect. You have gone out and you have changed people's minds about what LGBT people are, what LGBT people can do and we just want everyone to see we can play rugby just like everyone else. It is all we have wanted to do and we are really glad we are able to do that." VARIOUS OF OWEN AND CHAIRMAN OF BEIJING DEVILS, STEVE LYNCH, EMBRACING AFTER MATCH (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIRMAN OF BEIJING DEVILS, STEVE LYNCH, SAYING: "I honestly think rugby is such an inclusive sport, it is so welcoming. Our club welcomes any age, any religion, any race, any sexual orientation. So I think, rugby just has the ethics and the morals of what we stand for. So, generally loyalty, sportsmanship, teamwork, all the things that we respect at the Devils and what we have seen today from the different teams, from the different people today is exactly what we stand for at the Beijing Devils." VARIOUS OF TEAMS POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS TOGETHER AND CHEERING
- Embargoed: 21st October 2019 08:10
- Keywords: Japan China homosexual LGBT gay Worldwide Barbarians Rugby World Cup rugby tournament United Kingdom
- Location: TOKYO, JAPAN
- City: TOKYO, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Rugby Union,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001B03JDXB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Less than 40 kilometres from where England beat Argentina at Tokyo Stadium in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday (October 5), another unique rugby match was taking place.
World Barbarians RFC were taking on the Beijing Devils in the first match of International Gay Rugby (IGR)'s International Inclusive Challenge Weekend.
The first such tournament organised by IGR in Asia involved players from over a dozen countries and aims to promote inclusion and tolerance through sport.
Other than the fact many of the players were sporting rainbow-coloured socks and a pride flag was flying next to the pitch, it was just like any other rugby match with players flying into rucks, spinning passes wide and leaping in the air at lineouts.
"Our teams are going out there and saying 'we are LGBT people playing sport'," said IGR chair Ben Owen.
Not all the players in the tournament identify as LGBT but that is the point; the 84 member clubs of IGR see inclusion as their core value and any person of any creed is welcome. Saturday's tournament came a day after IGR had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Japanese Rugby Football Union to 'foster inclusivity and diversity programmes in Japan.'
Following the ceremony, which was attended by Japan's first lady, Akie Abe, the JRFU becomes the fifth union to sign the memorandum with the IGR. IGR is partnered with World Rugby and although tournament organisers see rugby as a sporting role model in terms of inclusion, more can be done.
"I would like to see World Rugby take a more active role," said William Howell, the President of the Worldwide Barbarians Foundation.
Unlike in many other major sports, rugby union has seen some high profile players and referees, most notably former Wales captain Gareth Thomas and current World Cup referee Nigel Owens, come out as homosexual.
(Production: Jack Tarrant)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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