One of the most decorated pro rugby players in the world has come out as a fierce LGBTQ+ ally.

Antoine Dupont, the captain of the France national team and the reigning European Club Player of the Year, affirmed his support for queer players in a recent interview with France’s most popular gay magazine, Tetu. The headline for the piece is appropriately titled, “No more taboo or shame.”

“Homophobia is not an opinion, but an offense,” he says, before going one step further. “And from now on, if a player makes homophobic remarks on the pitch, I think I would stop the match. Because things have to change.”

While rugby is considered more queer-friendly than the word’s most popular sport, soccer, there is still work to be done. A 2020 study found that nearly half of male rugby union players in the U.K. admitted to using homophobic slurs on the field, while two-thirds said they’ve heard teammates use antigay language.

One of the study’s authors, Erik Denison, commented to Sky Sports that he found the revelations surprising, considering many of the players surveyed professed accepting attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people.

But casual homophobia is a pervasive part of sports culture. Homophobic language is so engrained, players often don’t think about the harm their words can cause.

Dupont wants to change that mindset.

“Little jokes, if there is a gay person on our team and they hear them, it won’t help them to speak or come out,” he added. “We still assimilate rugby, which is a sport of strength, of combat, to this slightly macho side where you have to be a man, a real one. But today, I think we have overcome these constraints.”

The 2021 World Rugby Player of the Year, Dupont enjoys well over 1 million followers across social media. When star players assert themselves as allies, it makes a big difference.

Related: ‘World’s best’ rugby player would ‘stop the match’ if someone was homophobic

Former Welsh national rugby player Gareth Thomas became the first publicly out gay rugby union player in 2009, and turned himself into a media sensation. An all-time great, Thomas was the first Wales rugby union player to play in 100 test matches, and is the third-highest Wales try scorer ever.

Ten years after coming out, Thomas announced he was HIV-positive undetectable, and has emerged as a fstrong advocate for those living with HIV.

There’s currently one out active pro rugby player in France, Jeremy Clamy-Edroux. He publicly came out along with five other French athletes in a 2021 documentary.

Retired New Zealand rugby star Campbell Johnston publicly came out as gay in 2023, and is already planning a perfect wedding with his boyfriend. Like many out athletes, Johnston said he wants to help other closeted athletes live their truth.

“If I open up that door and kind of magically make that closet disappear, then we’re going to help a lot of people,” he said. “If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and stigma surrounding the issue, it can actually help other people.”

Speaking of rugby couples, Devin Ibañez, the first Major League Rugby player to publicly come out as gay, is never shy about posting with his devoted bf.

Dupont, for his part, knows there are plenty of gay rugby union players. He says it’s up to straight allies to help them feel comfortable.

“I doubt there’s [only] a single gay player on the pitch,” he said. “Even though rugby can be seen as macho, we’re very open-minded and I think today we’re all able to accept each other’s sexuality.”

He continued, “Those who hide it must be having a hard time. You have to tell them there’s nothing to worry about. I think the attitudes are there, so we have to say it loud and clear.”

We’ve also seen our share of homoerotic rugby stories through the years. Last June, a French rugby union team celebrated their trophy win with some post-game bath time funnn.

Former rugby player Tom Garratt was also caught on video pleasuring another man, to which he said, “who cares!”

Garratt, who played for the Hull Kingston Rovers and Dewsbury Rams, addressed the leaked video earlier this year on TikTok, where he has nearly 96,000 followers. 

“It’s from seven years ago, which obviously doesn’t change the fact that what happened, happened,” said the 29-year-old. “We we were on holiday and it got a bit messy and we thought it would be funny to… yeah.”

With a similar story to share, pro rugby coach Anthony Seibold also recalled when he and five of his teammates partook in a semi-nude spread for Attitude, a longstanding gay magazine in the U.K.

As those examples indicate, a sizable number of rugby stars are staunch allies, and comfortable with their masculinity. Dupont’s supportive message is another step forward.

In the meantime, we wouldn’t mind seeing him in a semi-nude photo shoot. Just sayin’…

Don't forget to share:

Help make sure LGBTQ+ stories are being told...

We can't rely on mainstream media to tell our stories. That's why we don't lock Queerty articles behind a paywall. Will you support our mission with a contribution today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated