A SENIOR member of the Australian Wallabies rugby union squad has said he’s convinced homophobia still occurred on the pitch but, “blokes like me” needed to be aware of what not to say.
The study, Out on the Fields, was initiated by organisers of Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, the world cup of gay rugby, in consultation with the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club and the International Gay Rugby Association and Board.
To be conducted by sports researchers Repucom and reviewed by academics from universities across the globe, the survey will look at a wide variety of areas, including how often athletes witness or experience homophobic slurs, jokes and bullying while playing sport.
Ashley-Cooper, who is also a model for underwear brand Jockey, backed the study, saying: “[It’s] a good idea… to quantify the amount of slurs in sport today in regards to homophobia in world and Australian sport.”
While not personally seeing a high amount of homophobia on the pitch, Ashley-Cooper said “there is a lot it happening out there so it’ll be interesting to see what the [study] results are”.
“More than anything the results of the survey will make blokes like me more aware of what not to say when you’re involved with a game,” he added.
Just this month, the NRL acted to suspend rising under 20s West Tigers star, Mitchell Moses, for two weeks following a homophobic insult made against another player during a match at Penrith in Sydney’s west.
The NRL were under pressure to take quick action after they failed to reprimand Newcastle Knights star Ryan Stig last year after he used social media to make a homophobic rant.
Ashley-Cooper said that despite the game’s reputation, progress was being made in making union a gay friendly sport.
“It’s a very heavily dominated sport for contact and that’s where it gets a persona of being a macho sport but as the Sydney Convicts have shown anyone can play the game,” he said.
Australian Rugby Union, along with the NRL, AFL, Football Federation Australian and Cricket Australia and cricket signed up to the Bingham Cup backed Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework last month, which commits the codes to cracking down on homophobia in the game while making sport more inclusive for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
For details and to take part, visit www.outonthefields.com. Results of the survey will be released in advance of the Bingham Cup, being held in Sydney at the end of August.