It was a great day when we were able to welcome New Zealand Rugby to the Rainbow Tick network the other week.
And yes, that is a Rainbow Tick on an All Blacks jersey. Who’d have thought it?
You probably have to be a New Zealander to really grasp the cultural importance of rugby here. It permeates so many aspects of our culture. And it’s certainly not somewhere we’d have thought would want to undertake this kind of work.
But sports are a deep and vital part of many people’s lives, and some of those people come from the LGBTTI+ world. It’s a common story that many who loved sport in their youth give up on it as they enter young adulthood because of perceiving the atmosphere as too hostile and difficult to be themselves in. This is especially true of team sports like rugby union or rugby league, where there is intense physical contact. The research behind the report Out on the Field shows this clearly.
NZ Rugby has the vision that it wants to be a force that unifies all New Zealanders, and this point was made a few times during our process with them. They were clear that they are sincere in this goal, and that means including all of New Zealand, including us. Personally I know many people from our communities who are big time rugby-heads. They love the sport, but so many don’t feel able to be open about who they are in the sporting context. This has to change, and it’s an amazing step forward when the administration of one of the most important cultural icons in New Zealand agrees.
All sporting codes, including rugby, still have work to do, but this is a great and sincere first step. We look forward to seeing this work roll out across other codes in time.