Seven NRL players boycott next match against club's gay pride shirt

Seven NRL players boycott next match against club’s gay pride shirt

Seven rugby league players are boycotting a game on Thursday following their team’s decision to wear gay pride shirts.

The ABC understands that Manly Sea Eagles stars Josh Aloiai, Toafofoa Sipley, Tolutau Koula, Christian Tuipulotu, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jason Saab and Josh Schuster declined to play due to their religious and personal beliefs.

That means ninth-placed Manly, who is battling to keep his Finals hopes on track against the eighth-placed Roosters, faces the prospect of entering the critical Round 20 game with a badly disrupted roster.

There are six home and away rounds to play this season.

The Sea Eagles must name their squad for Thursday night’s matchup by 4 p.m. today.

The club’s management team held an emergency meeting last night to take control of the fallout.


Josh Schuster, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Aloiai and Jason Saab are four of the players who refused to wear the shirt.(PA: Dan Himbrechts and James Gourley )

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he hoped the situation was “resolved”.

“It’s a good thing that the sport is more inclusive,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese said Ian Roberts, Manly’s first legend and the first NRL player to come out openly as gay in 1995, showed courage.

“He wasn’t the first gay to play rugby, I’ll give you the big tip, [but] he was the first who could have the courage to come out – and that paved the way for others to do so,” he said.

“It’s important in Australian society that we respect everyone for who they are.”

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Anthony Albanese says he hopes Manly pride jersey debacle can be resolved with respect

Writing about it on social media this morning, Federal Sports Minister Anika Wells told her social media followers: “It’s still the same love.”

“Club uniforms are all about clubs, but I think Macklemore said it best – it’s all the same love,” she said, referring to a popular gay pride song. .

Australian Rugby League committee chairman Peter V’Landys said the Nine Radio players could act as they wished but the NRL backed the tie.

“We are all human beings at the end of the day,” Mr V’Landys said.

“But at the same time, you have to respect the religious and cultural beliefs of the players. These players are taking a stand and they have every right to do so.”

Ian Robert
Ian Roberts was the NRL’s first openly gay player. (Getty)

Mr V’Landys said the issue of gay rights should not be political.

“Recognizing and respecting other human beings, I don’t think is political…we won’t change our position,” he said.

On Sunday, the club announced they would be wearing an LGBTQIA+ shirt for the Round 20 game against the Roosters at Brookvale.

A rainbow design replaces the band’s usual white hoops to celebrate ‘inclusivity’, with Kieran Foran, Reuben Garrick and Sean Keppie among those who launched the shirt on social media.

But the decision has sparked unrest among players who have not been consulted by the club.

Sea Eagles interim CEO Gary Wolman said the club was proud to deliver an important message.

“The Sea Eagles have such a rich and diverse history in rugby league and in the community,” Wolman said.

“[It’s] a fantastic achievement and we are happy to be able to share such an important message that means so much to so many people in the community. ยป

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Manly Eagles players to boycott game to protest LGBT shirt

Roberts told the Daily Telegraph that the decision of the seven players “breaks his heart”.

“It’s sad and uncomfortable,” he said.

“As an older gay man, it’s not unheard of. I wondered if there would be religious resistance.

“That’s why I think the NRL has never had a pride lap.

“I can promise you that every young person in the Northern Beaches who deals with their sexuality has heard of it.”

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