The Brisbane Hustlers have beaten the Sydney Convicts in Melbourne to bring home this year’s Purchas Cup.
Considered the “Bledisloe of gay rugby”, the annual cup brought together six gay-inclusive teams from Australia and New Zealand.
“Winning the Purchas Cup this weekend and being part of the tournament, with like-minded people, has been a very welcome escape [from the marriage equality debate],” said Hustlers coach Darren Hegarty.
“This debate has exposed us to a lot of negativity, particularly in Queensland, where a lot of people live in rural areas and many have probably never met a gay person. This makes it easier for them to believe the rubbish being said about us.”
Hegarty said the support from Australian Rugby Union would help people affected by the negative messages.
“These sports touch massive populations right throughout Australia and they influence people involved in the sports,” he said.
“I hope their support will have a very positive impact and counteract the lies people are hearing.”
Xavier Goldie, captain of tournament host team the Melbourne Chargers, said the ‘no’ campaign had been disheartening.
“I was in the laundromat the other day washing our team uniforms and the ad from the no side came on the TV, and it made me feel very disheartened,” he said.
“This debate is not about children wearing dresses or role-playing same-sex relationships. This debate is about whether to allow two rugby-loving men, who love each other, to be equal in Australia. That’s it.”
The Purchas Cup, now in its tenth year, is named after Sydney Convicts founder Andrew Purchas OAM.
Purchas was heavily involved in organising five major sports’ commitment to eliminate homophobia, and co-founded Pride in Sport, a group created to drive change in Australian sporting culture.