Sydney Convicts make history
July 6, 2014
Macquarie University and Sydney Convicts players shake hands after their historic match © Getty Images

Wallabies legend John Eales hailed the courage and spirit of the Sydney Convicts after they became the first gay rugby team to feature at a professional sporting fixture.

The Convicts downed Macquarie University 30-12 in the curtain-raiser to New South Wales Waratahs' Super Rugby fixture against the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Jason Fowler was among the stars of the match, the Convicts halfback having quit Macquarie Uni because he feared his former team-mates wouldn't accept him if he "came out".

"Playing at Allianz is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the entire team is extremely proud and excited to be making history," Fowler said.

"For me, I'm amazed by how my life has come full circle. Just two years ago I was afraid to come out of the closet to my team-mates. Now I'm playing against them on a gay rugby team as part of a professional sporting event. The guys from my old team obviously now know that I'm gay, and they have been very supportive - which has really helped me accept my own sexuality."

Eales, an ambassador for the Bingham Cup - a three-day rugby tournament designed to help to eradicate homophobia in sport - said the historic match at Allianz Stadium marked a huge step forward.

"It's always disappointing to hear stories of people who don't play sports because they fear discrimination," the former Wallabies captain and two-time Rugby World Cup winner said.

"There is no room for homophobia or any other exclusionary behaviour in sports or any other part of society. Sports can and must lead society and be welcoming for everyone. I'm sure that by holding historic events like this, and taking other steps to publicly support gay people, we can help eradicate homophobia and discrimination in sport."


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