Thanks in part to Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger, the concept of an out LGBTQ couple combining athletic forces on a Women’s World Cup team isn’t new. Now comes this great news of another World Cup squad featuring a same-sex couple on its roster, this time in that most romantic of all sports: rugby.
Pauline Bourdon and Laure Sansus have played together on France’s national rugby team as well as a local aggregation in Toulouse and have been out to their teammates for a while. But they both only recently came out publicly as LGBTQ and as a couple in an interview this month for French rugby publication Midi Olympique.
As Bourdon explained, she and Sansus weren’t exactly in the closet as much as they just decided not to make an announcement about their status until now.
“We never hid it. If people asked about it, we’d tell them,” she clarified to Midi Olympique, “It’s true that we never spoke about it in the media. It just never came up. Now, we’re at a stage in our lives where we’ve made plans. If everyone knows, we don’t mind.”
Those plans include getting married in 2023 with one of their rugby teammates serving as their witness.
But before then, there’s a little matter of the Women’s Rugby World Cup to take care of, and both Sansus and Bourdon are currently representing Team France during the tournament in New Zealand.
Adding a unique “it’s complicated” layer to their relationship is the fact that both of them play the same position as scrum halves on the French national team. According to The Telegraph’s Fiona Thomas, “Sansus has edged Bourdon in the scrum-half hierarchy within the French camp.”
Indeed, as the reigning Women’s Six Nations Player of the Year, Sansus is usually a force to be reckoned with on the pitch, and one of the most prominent players on Team France. Bourdon is certainly no slouch either, but usually finds herself on the bench watching Sansus play her position in international matches.
Despite this situation, Sansus asserted that “It’s true that we love to play together.” At another point in the interview, she implied that when she and Bourdon are both competing on the training pitch, there is a sense of telepathy that emerges between the two of them.
It turned out that it was a good thing Bourdon was there for her partner, both emotionally and on the bench. During World Cup action on Saturday, Sansus got injured during the first quarter of France’s 13-7 loss to England. After rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament, she had to be carted off the pitch, and her time playing in the World Cup came to a premature end.
As Sansus was planning for this to be her last tournament, the injury also marked an unfortunate end to her rugby career.
“You never choose your exit, and my situation is a perfect example of that,” she lamented to the media. “Of course, I would have preferred my career to end differently.”
While Sansus’s career came to a premature conclusion, thanks to her relationship with Bourdon, she’ll still have a lot of great moments to look forward, to even with rugby no longer being part of her life. That’s the definition of a great teammate and a great partner.