NRL Pride Round: Peter V’landys says it’s still an option after Manly shirt debacle in 2023

The NRL will keep the door open to introducing a Pride round in next season’s draw, with the issue to be discussed at upcoming commission meetings.

The 2023 draw could be announced as early as this week as the league works on a host of stadium challenges and the introduction of a 17th team.

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When it is released there will be no dedicated Pride or Inclusion round, having first raised the issue during Manly’s rainbow jersey fiasco in July.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t be added at some point if the issue is still on the agenda.

The Manly Sea Eagles Rainbow Pride Jersey. Recognition: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

“That has yet to be worked out,” ARL Commission Chairman Peter V’landys told AAP.

“We always wanted to look at these things in the off-season.

“We have a lot of time, we have 26 rounds and we only start in three or four months.

“This will be discussed at the next commission meetings. There were discussions but no final decisions.”

The NRL is aware of the minefield surrounding the issue.

Manly’s rainbow jersey made headlines for days on end last year and wrecked their season when seven players resigned and refused to wear it.

The head office was also lashed out by some, claiming that the game had become too political.

At the same time, the league backed the yes vote back in 2017, with signs of support for marriage equality when Macklemore performed Same Love at the grand finale.

Sea Eagles players react during the Round 25 NRL game between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Manly Sea Eagles. Recognition: Brendon Dorn/Getty Images

“From our side, we’ve always said that we want to respect everyone’s views,” V’landys said.

“We don’t want to get into politics. The reason people watch rugby is to escape, they don’t watch it because you have a political belief.

“We want to keep it as an escapism sport as much as possible.

“But respecting each other, I don’t think that’s political.”

If the NRL goes ahead with a round of Pride, there’s also a risk the problems Manly is facing will emerge at most clubs.

Josh Aloiai, one of the players who sat out the Sea Eagles game against the Sydney Roosters, made it clear last month that he would not be wearing a Pride jersey next year.

Other clubs have also expressed concerns to AAP that some of their players would be boycotted.

But the likes of the Roosters’ Trent Robinson and Manly owner Scott Penn have backed the idea, with Pride Rounds being played in other sports.

“There are ways you can do it without upsetting anyone,” V’landys said.

“If we do it, we have the format to do it right. It’s about respecting each other.

“We have to respect that (some people) have a different view than the rest of us.

“The most important thing in my eyes is that we are all equal, no matter what skin color, creed or sexual orientation.”

NRL players boycott game over Pride jersey

NRL players boycott game over Pride jersey NRL Pride Round: Peter V’landys says it’s still an option after Manly shirt debacle in 2023

James Brien

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