A rugby club in the UK is refuting claims that it is homophobic this week, following an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald that quoted former team member Jay Claydon as being ousted from the club after teammates learned he was openly gay in his private life.
Claydon, now based in Sydney playing for the Sydney Convicts, wrote that he had come out to close family and friends when he was 18-years-old, but remained closeted to his teammates over fear that he wouldn’t be fully accepted.
At training one night, people were looking at me funny. Somehow they’d found out.
On the Friday night, I got a call from my coach saying the players had taken a vote at a meeting behind my back and they weren’t comfortable having me in the team any more. He said, “they don’t want you to come back.”
Claydon declined to name the rugby club accused of ousting him, leading both his former teams in Canterbury to boldly insist that it was not theirs. The paper identified a club in Kaiapoi as the one most likely linked to the allegations.
“It’s such a stereotype, but at most clubs they see a gay guy and think you can’t be sporty or masculine,” Claydon wrote. “They think that you’re weak or you’re not as tough as them. Even when they didn’t know I was gay I’d hear the word ‘faggot’ all the time.” Furthermore, Claydon claimed that “homophobic slurs were an accepted part of sporting culture.”
Claydon is apparently a great player, identified by the SMH as a “promising” up-and-coming star who was recruited to play for Kaiapoi at a young age, winning the 2006 North Canterbury championship while still in high school. His initial allegations were printed in a story that claimed a shocking 13 percent of out athletes fall victim to physical assaults at the hands of their teammates.
Kaiapoi officials refuse to provide an official statement, even though coaches from Claydon’s other former Canterbury team hailed him as a “valued [former] member of our club.”