Calls for NRL Pride Round grow louder despite Manly shirt debacle: ‘It will do wonders’

Cronulla Sharks star Toby Rudolf wants the NRL to introduce a round of Pride.

Rudolf has been one of the biggest athletic supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community and believes the initiative would do “miracles” for the community.

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The NRL was embroiled in Pride jersey drama last July when seven Manly Sea Eagles players refused to wear the club’s rainbow jersey and sat out a game against the Sydney Roosters.

Drama at the Sea Eagles plunged the club into a crisis as the team ended the NRL season with seven straight losses and missed out on a place in the Finals, and coach Des Hasler was axed in the off-season.

At the height of the drama, Rudolf became one of the few NRL stars to speak openly about his same-sex experiences, saying while identifying as straight, he believed, “Love is love, and I love to share it with everyone.” “. .

Toby Rudolf shares a moment with the Rabbitohs’ Tom Burgess during an NRL game last July. Credit: Getty Images

“What I want to say is that I was raised by quite a lot of gay and lesbian community members. My uncle is gay and my godmother is gay and there is so much love in this community,” Rudolf told the Sydney Morning Herald last July.

“Sexuality is very fluid. I’ve been out and kissed a lot of gay men, kissed a lot of straight women, and kissed a lot of gay women.”

Rudolf was overwhelmed by the positive comments he received following his revelations.

“I’ve had so many people reach out to me with some really, really heartfelt messages that I couldn’t believe,” Rudolf told Fox Sports.

“So if I can do this to just a few people, and there’s a whole community behind it, and the sport is behind it, it’s going to do wonders for that entire community.”

In surprisingly good news, Rudolf said his comments even saved the life of a young member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Without getting too personal with some of them, I remember there was a kid who said his family just avoided him completely,” Rudolf said.

“It was my comments that somehow stopped him from taking his own life. Honestly, that was one of the messages he sent.

“That was strong for me, I’m a front rower on a team that doesn’t try too hard, not too popular.

“But if you can get through an entire sport, that encourages positivity and creates it.”

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys has since revealed that discussions will be held on a Pride round for the 2023 NRL season.

There is no Pride round planned for the new season, but it should be discussed at the ARLC meetings last November.

The Manly Sea Eagles Rainbow Pride jersey as worn during last season’s NRL game in July against the Sydney Roosters. Credit: Getty Images

Rudolf believes there should be a Pride round every year and said it would do “miracles” for the community.

“Of course (a Pride round should be introduced),” Rudolf said.

“Obviously last year there was just a breakdown in communications between Manly and whatever happened there, not that I know the specifics.

“I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be a good thing to show that to the community, rugby league of course, with the likes of Ian Roberts, the first gay Open athlete in Australia, I’m pretty sure.

“I think it will do wonders for the game, wonders for the community.”

If you need help during a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Visit beyondblue for more information on depression 1300 224 636 or talk to your family doctor, a local healthcare professional or someone you trust.

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James Brien

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