Australian rugby player defends teammates who refused to wear Pride jersey

In July seven players refused to play a crucial game for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in an inclusive jersey.


Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki Commons and Twitter/@SeaEagles

An Australian rugby player has defended his teammates who refused to play in Pride jerseys, despite having a gay brother and trans sister. 

Dylan Walker, of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, says the team has been "rock solid" ever since the occasion in July when seven members of the team boycotted a game over having to wear jerseys that featured rainbow details. 

Speaking to Newscorp, and as reported by the Daily Mail Walker has said he'd spoken to the guys identified as Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau'atu, Tolutau Koula, and Toafofoa Sipley.

Walker said he'd told them he had a gay brother and a trans sibling but also told Newscorp that "if you are going to stand for something you believe in, how can you be angry with them for that?"

He revealed his own family "weren't angry at all" and were happy that Walker was happy to play in the Pride jersey. "If you're a good person, which they all are, I can't be angry with them," he said of those who boycotted a game. 

In July, following the controversy caused by the boycott the Manly's coach, Des Hasler, apologised to the players and the LGBTQ community, admitting "the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative was poor" and that the players "should have been consulted"

"The intent of the rainbow application of our jersey was to represent diversity and inclusion for all, utilising the symbolic colours of Pride to embrace all groups who feel marginalised, face discrimination, and a suppressed share of voice," Hasler said in a statement.

However, the players' decision led to considerable backlash online. A former Manly player, Ian Roberts, who was the first professional rugby league player to come out as gay, described the situation as "sad and uncomfortable."

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