South Africa’s first gay and inclusive rugby club has joined forces with one of the country’s oldest in saying “no to homophobia in rugby.”
The Exclusive Books Jozi Cats and Digger’s Rugby Cub have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) taking a stand against homophobia in the sport – making Digger’s the first rugby club in South Africa to take such a pledge.
The MOU, based on the one signed between World Rugby and International Gay Rugby in 2015, recognises and respects:
- the right of any player, official and spectator to be involved with Rugby without the discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or identification
- the common goal of inclusion and the elimination of homophobia in Rugby
- the promotion of Digger’s Rugby Club as a community-centered safe space
In addition, the Jozi Cats and Digger’s will develop a relationship based on a shared set of values, and will work with the Golden Lions Rugby Union and the South African Rugby Union to improve tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQI Players at all levels within Rugby, while supporting the promotion and development of the Jozi Cats mandates of creating safe spaces and developing Gay and Inclusive Rugby in South Africa.
“Digger’s has a nearly 125-year tradition of going against the grain and standing up for the underdog which is what led to our formation all those years ago. It’s part of our DNA,” says Digger’s Rugby Club Chairman, Riaan Matthys. “At Digger’s everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation is not only welcome – but safe as well. And this is something we are extremely proud of.”
This positive relationship led to the Jozi Cats calling Digger’s their new home in early 2017.
“Everyone at Digger’s have gone out of their way to make us feel at home and their passion and commitment to help us provide a truly safe and harassment-free environment for our players, fans and spectators is truly inspiring,” says Jozi Cats Chairman, Chris Verrijdt.
“They really need to be commended on being such a brave organisation for taking a standing with us to blow the whistle on homophobia in Sport and help make a lasting change to what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour and language, both on and off the field.”
The Jozi Cats will make their local rugby debut at the Zando Tshwane 10’s this weekend, while they will also be playing in the Digger’s annual 7’s tournament in September.
“We hope that every club and union in South Africa takes a page from Digger’s book to say that homophobia has no place in Rugby; but homosexuals do!” concludes Verrijdt.