Toby Rudolf. (Matt King/Getty Images)
Australian rugby player Toby Rudolf opened up about his sexuality during an interview on the recent controversy around a Pride NRL jersey.
In an article from Sydney Morning Herald on Friday (29 July), Rudolf said that he identified as heterosexual but “love is love, and I love to share it with everyone”.
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks player admitted that he had kissed many men in the past and was comfortable enough in his own sexuality to do so.
“Sexuality is very fluid,” he said. “I’ve been out and kissed many gay men, kiss many straight women and kissed many gay women. I’m not a one-stop shop.”
One of his favourite locations to party in Sydney after a match is “all the gay bars” across the city, saying: “I love dancing with my shirt off and getting down Universal on Oxford St until 2am.
“You could say I’m open to both genders but only attracted to one of them,” he said.
During a time when the sport is incredibly divided over the controversy surrounding seven Manly players who boycotted a Thursday (28 July) match over a rainbow Pride jersey, Toby Rudolf’s comments have been a breath of fresh air.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles players Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Hamumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofa Sipley boycotted Thursday’s match against the Sydney Roosters over “religious concerns” due to the jersey. The game went ahead without them.
Head coach Des Hasler confirmed that the seven players and the rest of the team were not aware of the jersey prior to their announcement and apologised for the club’s “mishandling” of the situation. He confirmed that the club would still continue to wear the jersey.
Although he hasn’t “got caught up” in the situation, Rudolf said it was “raised by quite a few gay and lesbian community members”, noting that his uncle and his godmother are both gay.”
He also supported Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys’ consideration of a Pride round as soon as 2023, adding that he thinks the move would be a popular one.
V’landys announced that the organisation was considering the move on Tuesday (26 July), saying: “We are very proud that we are a game for everybody.”
“That’s why I’m in this game, because I had a difficulty being accepted as a migrant and rugby league accepted me,” he continued. “It was inclusive back then and it is inclusive now. It’s important that every boy and girl and man and woman can go to the game and feel they can be treated the same as everyone else.”
Openly gay former rugby league player Keegan Hirst called out the group in a tweet on Wednesday (27 July), saying he had seen “gayer” things in the changing rooms and saying “shame on the ones” who are refusing to wear the jersey.
After some fans claimed that the team was “forcing” the players to wear the jersey, saying it was akin to “non-religious people in the workplace” wearing “veils and kippahs” – Hirst said: “This has nothing to do with the shirt and everything to do with homophobia.