International Gay Rugby has signed an agreement with World Rugby that will drive programs and policy to make the sport of rugby a more inclusive environment for LGBT people.

From the World Rugby Web site:

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, World Rugby and IGR recognise and respect:

  • the right of any player, official and spectator to be involved with rugby without discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or identification
  • the common goal of inclusion and the elimination of homophobia in rugby
World Rugby and IGR will consult on issues of importance to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and the game of rugby by:

  • developing a positive and mutually beneficial relationship based on a sense of shared purpose
  • working with regional associations and member unions to improve tolerance and acceptance of LGBT players at all levels within rugby union
  • providing educational tools to World Rugby member unions to support in the elimination of homophobia in rugby
  • supporting the promotion and development of IGR’s events

Rugby has already had one of the few openly gay active professional athletes in Gareth Thomas, who was even acquired by a new team after he came out publicly. Ben Cohen is one of the most outspoken former professional athletes on LGBT issues through the StandUp Foundation. And International Gay Rugby is one of the most widespread gay sports associations in the world. So the sport is well on its way – This is another great development.

It's also a great model for how to strategically build inclusion in sports – marrying LGBT sports leagues with larger mainstream organizations in the sport. It elevates the LGBT athletes and creates an intelligent way to educate decision-makers in the sport. It would be great to see all the big-time sports groups in the United States, from the NBA to USA Swimming, build relationships with LGBT leagues like this one.

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