Seven Manly Players To Boycott NRL Match Over Gay Pride Jersey

Seven Manly Players To Boycott NRL Match Over Gay Pride Jersey
Image: Manly players (left to right) Josh Schuster, Josh Aloiai and Tolutau Koula.

Seven Manly players said they were withdrawing from Thursday’s game against the Sydney Roosters over the Sea Eagles’ decision to wear the gay Pride jersey to promote diversity and inclusivity.

The players cited cultural and religious beliefs for their decision to sit out of the match. Since then, three players have reportedly changed their minds and will now play in the game. 

Sydney Morning Herald reported that players Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley had stood down from selection because of the club’s inclusive jersey. 

Club Unveils Gay Pride Jersey

The Sea Eagles club unveiled their rainbow-themed jersey in celebration of diversity and inclusivity on Monday. A meeting with Sea Eagles management that evening requested all players to wear the “Everyone in League” design.

However, there were multiple complaints from the seven players who did not want to wear the jersey based on cultural and religious grounds. The club had not consulted the group about plans to wear the jersey. 

Sports reporter Michelle Bishop spoke on Channel 7’s Sunrise on Tuesday explaining that “at least” three of the seven were now re-considering their actions.

“Of the seven players who are refusing to wear the jersey, at least three now have had a bit of a change of heart and are considering wearing the pride jersey for this upcoming round,” Bishop said. 

Breaks My Heart, Says Ian Roberts

Ian Roberts

Former Manly Sea Eagles club great Ian Roberts, who became the first rugby league player to come out as gay while playing for Manly in 1995,  said that this news “breaks my heart.” 

The former Kangaroo star described his disappointment at the players refusal to wear the jerseys, stating that he felt “sad and uncomfortable.” As an older gay man, Roberts said “this isn’t unfamiliar. I did wonder whether there would be any religious pushback. That’s why I think the NRL have never had a Pride round.”

Manly is set to become the first club in rugby league’s 134-year history to wear a jersey celebrating inclusivity, with rainbow colours replacing the traditional white piping on the maroon background. 

Manly Fans Buy Pride Jersey

Manly fans responded to the controversial news swiftly by purchasing the pride jersey, with the ‘Everyone in League’ design having sold out in the men’s section online within hours of the seven players officially standing down. 

“LGBTIQA people have always been a part of sport but haven’t always been allowed the visibility,” Roberts said. 

“I have been trying to get the NRL to have a pride round for the past three years and it still hasn’t got the traction it deserves. It saddens me because they think having a float at the Mardi gras is enough and it’s not.” 

The Sea Eagles club must name a 22-man squad for the game by Tuesday afternoon. Coach Des Hasler and Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans are due to front the media at midday on Tuesday to address the team’s divide over the pride jerseys. 






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7 responses to “Seven Manly Players To Boycott NRL Match Over Gay Pride Jersey”

  1. Gay men are and remains a policy to suppressed by Churches, since for what feels like many thousands of years. The Church has crusified men for their sexual orientation. The main Church with mind games is The Church of Later Saint’s is currupt with mainly of it’s based in Samoa in the South Pacific. This cult or the Church will not provide you anything without a generous donation.

    The NRL (n particular Manly) are calling the shots and beliefs to there star money makers. There will be more to come. Manly should kick their butt back to once they came from.

  2. I love the way these homophobic clowns cherry pick which bit of their religion to adhere to. I was under the impression tattoos and gambling were also sins. I used to work at an infamous club full of poker machines one of the office staff refused to play lotto as it was a sin to gamble however taking a wage paid for by that same sin didn’t seem to be an issue for her. Bigoted hypocrites justifying their behaviour while hiding behind a book of fairy tales.
    Can we please have freedom from religion.

  3. Because of racism, I know the experiences of discrimination. We need to learn about others and deal with facts. Not bigotry inspired by religion and etc..

  4. Wearing a rainbow “inclusivity” jersey is against their cultural and religious beliefs but multiple gambling and betting logos aren’t. So they support people losing money they can’t afford but don’t support equality and inclusivity. What else do we need to know?

  5. Kylie you are spot on with your comments. Thank you for taking the time to articulate so well.

  6. Dear Manly Warringah Sea Eagles – and Daly Cherry-Evans – what a pathetic statement from a so-called leader of your team!

    How about shifting your player’s attention to their homophobic behaviour and have them recognise that their actions add to the discrimination against the LGBQTI+ community.

    Maybe you should turn their attention to the fact that in Australia, 80% of LGBQTI+ sports participants have experienced homophobia.
    That 87% of gay men and 75% of lesbians are entirely or partially in the closet playing youth sport. That LGBQTI+ people participate in sports at half the rate of straight people and are more likely to attempt suicide.

    Your team members’ refusal to wear a jersey for a grand total of 90 minutes is the reason why there is SUCH a lack of LGBQTI+ representation in sport. Because they fear bullying, reprisals and discrimination from the team, coaches, umpires, and crowds.

    Which is EXACTLY what your team has done.

    Maybe you should turn your player’s attention to the fact that as NRL’s ‘elite’ they have the ‘respect’ of their contemporaries and are ‘idolised’ by fans – and these come from both the LGBQTI+ community and non-LGBQTI+. People pay attention to and are influenced by their actions, and they should be educated of the responsibility this comes with.

    Maybe you should turn your player’s attention to the impact their actions:
    1) Have they considered that their LGBQTI+ teammates and contemporaries who are ‘out’ will once again feel discrimination and harassment by the very people they call ‘friends’.
    2) Do they realise that it reinforces to 87% of gay and 75% of lesbian athletes that are afraid to come out that they need to remain silent or face discrimination.
    3) Are they aware that this signals to their homophobic fans that bullying, harassing and humiliating LGBQTI+ community is basically fine by them.
    3) And do they even care that their actions signal to their LGBQTI+ fans that even their idols condone the bullying and harassment they feel EVERY SINGLE DAY.
    Not good enough – really not good enough!

    Whilst I am straight, I’ve seen my friends bullied, harassed and scared just because of their sexuality, and it makes me so angry that we are in 2022, and sporting codes and clubs still allow this type of action!