Joe Marler: Rugby union must do more to make it easier for players to ‘get out’

Exclusive:

EXCLUSIVE: “There is no way that everyone in professional elite rugby is straight. You can’t tell me that. The problem is, ‘why don’t they feel comfortable?’”

“We have said all the right things about equality and sexuality in sport.  It is one thing to say them and another to live according to those values."
“We have said all the right things about equality and sexuality in sport. It’s one thing to say them and another to live by those values.”

Joe Marler has called on rugby to work harder to create an environment that makes it easier for players to ‘come out’.

The England prop says gay footballer Jake Daniels revealing his sexuality made him question why no professional active in English rugby had done the same.

“There is no way that everyone in professional elite rugby is straight. No way,” Marler said. “You can’t tell me that. The problem is, ‘why don’t they feel comfortable?’”

Premiership Rugby supports Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which aims to promote equality and inclusion in sport for LGBTQ+ people and tackle discrimination at all levels. But Marler says that words alone are not enough.

“We have said all the right things about equality and sexuality in sport,” he added.

“But it is one thing to say them out loud and in the press, and another to live those values ​​in the corridors, in the locker rooms, with teammates, so that people feel comfortable.






Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels

“That’s what we have to keep working on. So it’s not just words, it’s not just fluff.

“It’s about empowering your team-mates or people in rugby who feel like they want to get out there but don’t feel like they can because they’re worried about the stick they’re going to get or it’s going to be used against them.

“It’s about the day-to-day of saying ‘good mate, be whoever you want to be and I will fully respect and support you.’







Marler on a visit to his primary school (top) and (bottom) with England head coach Eddie Jones
(

Image:

Sports Direct and Joe Magowan)






(

Image:

Getty Images Europe)

“I hope we are moving in the right direction and I hope to see someone who is currently playing setting that example.”

Marler’s intervention is timely as Jack Dunne will become the only player ‘outside’ the Premiership when he joins Exeter from Leinster this summer.

The 6-foot-7 striker says he wants to normalize the conversation and hopes rugby can get to the point “where it’s not important for someone to come out publicly”.







Marler in his Sky Sports documentary on mental health, Big Boys Don’t Cry
(

Image:

sky uk ltd)

Dunne believes it “will probably take a couple more guys” before it normalizes and Marler hopes the courage shown by Blackpool star Daniels will give others confidence.

Despite spending much of his life in rugby with his head in scrums, the Harlequins star sees the bigger picture of the sport better than most.

Shaped by his own experiences with mental health, he twice retired from England service and continues to campaign for greater awareness in that area.







Marler back in his elementary school (above and below) as a Sports Slam ambassador
(

Image:

Sports Direct and Joe Magowan)






(

Image:

Sports Direct and Joe Magowan)

“There’s a lot more of a support network around me and other players these days,” Marler said, speaking during an appearance on Sports Slam, a Sports Direct crowdfunding initiative to create a more active future for the nation’s children.

“But what works for me now is not to say that I am definitely going to make it to, say, the World Cup. Rather stay in the here and now, enjoying it for what it is. Hopefully then the future will take care of itself.”

Sports Slam is a new national initiative from Sports Direct that aims to help kids discover their new favorite sport. To visit sportsstartshere.com/events/sports-slam

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.