Campaigners against homophobia in sport have welcomed the heavy fine levied against New South Wales forward Jacques Potgieter for calling ACT Brumbies players “faggots” in a Super XV match at the weekend.
South African loose forward Potgieter apologized for what he said had been an “offhand” remark made “during a heated encounter” after he was fined A$20,000 (US$15,800), half suspended, by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) on Monday.
Potgieter was also ordered to “undergo additional educational and awareness training” for the breach of the ARU inclusion policy, which took place at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.
Andrew Purchas, founder of the world’s most successful gay rugby team, Sydney Convicts, applauded the swift action of the ARU and the Waratahs in dealing with the matter.
“It is certainly disappointing that this event occurred at all and it highlights the ongoing need for all sports to be actively engaged in eliminating homophobia,” Purchas said.
Purchas played a leading role last year in coordinating a joint commitment from all major Australian sports, including the ARU, to eliminate homophobia from sport.
The Convicts have also invited Potgieter to train with them.
“We often find that people using this kind of language don’t fully understand the harmful effects it can have on those around them, particularly those struggling to accept their own sexuality,” Convicts president Robert McPherson said. “We would welcome Jacques to come down to meet the boys and hear their stories... He would quickly recognize that being gay has no impact on a person’s ability to play rugby or their passion for the game.”
The ARU took action after former Wallabies and Brumbies skipper David Pocock complained to the referee about the use of homophobic slurs during the match.
“We applaud David Pocock for speaking out when he heard these comments,” Purchas said. “He is a great example for all athletes, coaches and officials. It is critical that people speak up when they hear homophobic comments and make it clear this kind of language is unacceptable.”
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