Gareth Thomas to Speak at Pride Event
June 6, 2023 7:00 pm Site Editor
The IRFU will mark Pride month this year with a series of initiatives aimed at supporting the LGBTQ+ community and Leinster Rugby is supporting those initiatives helping staff and clubs to be better allies.
In March this year Anne Marie Hughes was appointed as the first Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity (ED&I) in the IRFU.
Speaking about the Pride celebrations this year Hughes said, ‘It is important to show support of pride and we will do that across our channels and by flying the flag but it’s more than just symbols and is more than one month a year.
“Rugby prides itself on being sport where everyone is welcome, and we want to foster and grow that culture in the organisation and the wider rugby community. We have heard from players and referees and others within the game and that visibility is hugely important, we want to build on their courage and create a safe and enjoyable environment in rugby for all.”
Moira Flahive, chair of the Leinster Rugby Inclusivity Committee, previously spoke to leinsterrugby.ie about her own experiences and the support that the club provides.
“It’s the little things for me,” explained Flahive, who was recently appointed Leinster Rugby’s Junior Vice-President, meaning she will become Leinster Branch President for the 2025/26 season.
“No step is too small. Every single step, no matter how small makes a difference. For example, Leinster changing their social media avatars and handles to the colours of the rainbow flag, making the flag visible, that helps.
“Leinster Rugby and Bank of Ireland hosting a webinar, “Building Allies with Pride; Leinster Rugby a Home for All”, which was a huge success by the way and has been watched thousands of times since it was first aired in June 2020, that helps.
“The Leinster Rugby referees wearing rainbow laces in solidarity with Evan Somers who was attacked and the two men brutally murdered in Sligo, Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee, that all helps.
“Speaking to players, profiling former players, and discussing openly their struggles but also their growth and their ability to be themselves, that helps.
“Every step helps and when for so long we have been quiet as a community, or prejudiced, or been living in the shadows, having organisations like Leinster Rugby stand up for us and with us, even with little gestures here and there is massive.
“And as I said, every little bit helps to open up that conversation around diversity and inclusion and around people’s sexuality.”
In March of this year, Leinster Rugby players and staff supported the URC’s Unity Round and the Rainbow Laces campaign in their game against the DHL Stormers at the RDS Arena.
Hughes outlined several initiatives to mark Pride including a live interview session with former Wales International Gareth Thomas speaking about his own rugby journey and sexuality.
“Gareth is a powerful speaker, and his story is one worth hearing. Initially we planned this for IRFU staff, but we have opened it up to rugby clubs as well. It’s important for staff and volunteers to know what people have gone through so we can all be better allies.”
The event with Gareth Thomas takes place on June 21st at 11 a.m. and a link has been shared to clubs for their members.
Under the banner of the Spirit of Rugby programme, the IRFU has created a short advice sheet for clubs and their members on how to be an ally and is encouraging clubs to take part in the various Pride parades that are planned.
IRFU – How To Be An Ally In Your Club
It’s important to ensure our clubs are inclusive and welcoming to everyone in the local community all year round, including those from the LGBTQ+ community. Have a look at this factsheet for ideas and tips on being an ally to the LGBTQ+ people in and around your club.
Get Involved In Pride
Why not get involved in your nearest Pride festival, you and your club mates could volunteer at festivals around Ireland and Northern Ireland. You can use the links below to see what’s on and to register your interest in volunteering
Dublin Pride https://form.jotform.com/230783961025356
Limerick Pride on 8th July 2023 https://limerickpride.ie/news/volunteer-2/
Belfast Pride on 29th July 2023 https://belfastpride.com/team-pride/
Galway Pride on 12th August 2023 https://galwaypride.ie/
Cork Pride on 6th August 2023 https://corkpride.com/volunteer/
For Irish Pride Events – https://pinkuk.com/events/gay-pride-2023/europe/ireland
For Northern Ireland pride events – https://www.rainbow-project.org
Finally, Hughes said the IRFU is encouraging clubs to show their support,
“Flying the flag or changing your logo to show the colours is a simple gesture that may help someone feel welcome, it is a statement of support. It needs to be backed up in every organisation by initiatives, training and support, but it is still important to say you are an ally.”
Have you and your club mates completed the IRFU Diversity and Inclusion online module?
You can use the link(s) below to learn about the importance of language, how we can manage our biases and steps to take to make your club more inclusive:
Show Your Support
Fly the flag, change your club logo and show that you support Pride.