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Opponents yelled 'faggot' during rugby match, Australian player says

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League fines player $20,000 after complaint by David Pocock, longtime gay rights supporter.

David Pocock during Saturday's match.
David Pocock during Saturday's match.
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Update: Jacques Potgieter, a player for the Waratahs, was fined $20,000 (with $10,000 suspended) and will have to undergo sensitivity training for calling a player a "faggot." "I'm very sorry for any offense caused by what I said on the field during a heated encounter," Potgieter said. "It was an offhand remark made without thought for the hurt it could cause to those around me."

Said Andrew Purchas, founder of the Sydney Convicts and President of last year's Sydney Bingham Cup, "We applaud the Australian Rugby Union and the Waratahs for acting so quickly to investigate and resolve this matter and reinforcing their commitment to eradicate homophobia in rugby and providing a positive environment for all. It is certainly disappointing that this event occurred at all and it highlights the ongoing need for all sports to be actively engaged in eliminating homophobia."

More details at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Original article: Australian rugby union player David Pocock is so passionate about gay marriage that he won't marry his female partner until same-sex unions are legal Down Under. So it's not a surprise that he is filing a formal complaint over what he says are two instances of "faggot" being yelled on the field at a Super Rugby match in Sydney on Saturday.

"You heard that sir ... you can't say that, there could be gay players out there," Pocock, of the Brumbies from Canberra, told referee Craig Joubert during a match against the Waratahs. Pocock did not hear "faggot" himself but was reporting what his teammates told they heard at least one Waratah player yell in a scrum. A formal complaint has been filed.

"As players, we've said the Brumbies aren't going to tolerate any homophobic slurs, I just made that clear to the referee that it's unacceptable. You can be the toughest man in the world, but it's got nothing to do with using that sort of language," Pocock said after the match, won by the Waratahs.

"Where you start is quelling out that sort of language. I didn't hear it myself, I was just making the referee aware of it so he could act. Our job as players is to quell it out. That's what we did, I don't think it should be a witch hunt. It's about educating the players and ensuring that rugby does become more inclusive."

"We're not into that," Waratah captain Michael Hooper said to Pocock about the gay slurs. The player(s) who allegedly said the words has not been identified. Hooper said since he had not heard the slur, he was powerless to penalize anyone, though he called using such language unacceptable.

Pocock has been one of the most passionate straight athletes in the world to support gay rights. For example, he attended the gay-oriented Bingham Cup as a rugby ambassador when the tournament was held in Sydney last year. He has long been a supporter of gay marriage. And in 2009, he held this sign in a campaign against homophobia in sports:

pocock sign


It is unclear what findings the complaint will yield or what punishment might occur if the accusations are confirmed. But huge props to Pocock for taking a stand and treating this as the serious issue it is.