Joe Marler: Rugby Union needs to do more to make it easier for players to “get out”

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Exclusively: “There’s no way everyone in professional rugby elite is heterosexual. You can’t tell me that. The thing 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, another to live up to those values"
“We have said all the right things about equality and sexuality in sport. It’s one thing to say them, it’s another to live up to those values. “

Joe Marler called for rugby to work harder to create an environment that makes it easier for players to “get out”.

The English backer says gay footballer Jake Daniels revealing his sexuality has led him to wonder why no active professional in English rugby has done the same.

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

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

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

“But it’s one thing to say them out loud and in the press, it’s another thing to actually live up to those values ​​in the hallways, in the locker rooms, with your teammates so that people feel comfortable.






Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels

“It simply came to our notice then. So it’s not just words, it’s not just fluff.

“It’s about empowering your teammates or people in rugby who do feel like they want to go out but don’t feel like they can because they’re worried about the stick they’re going to get or it’s being used against them.

“It’s about going day in and day out.







Marler on a visit back to his elementary school (above) and (below) with England head coach Eddie Jones
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Sports Direct and Joe Magowan)






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Getty Images Europe)

“I hope we’re going in the right direction and I hope to see someone who is currently playing set that example.”

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

The 6’7 forward says he wants to normalize the conversation and hopes rugby can get to the point “where it’s not a matter of someone going out in public”.







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

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

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

Formed from his own experiences with mental health, twice retiring from England tax, he continued to campaign for greater awareness in that area.







Marler back in his elementary school (above and below) as an ambassador for Sports Slam
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Sports Direct and Joe Magowan)






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Image:

Sports Direct and Joe Magowan)

“There’s a lot more support network around me and other players right now,” Marler said, speaking during an appearance for Sports Slam, a massive participatory initiative by Sports Direct to create a more active future for the nation’s kids.

“But what works for me right now doesn’t mean I’m sure I’ll get to the World Cup, for example. I’d rather stay in the here and now, enjoying it as it is. Hopefully then the future will take care of itself.”

Sports Slam is a new nationwide Sports Direct initiative aimed at helping children discover their new favorite sport. Visit sportstartshere.com/events/sports-slam

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