As part of its four-year societal program entitled "Celebrating Diversity", the National Rugby League launched the first part of its project on Thursday that relates to the fight against homophobia. “Sport is not outside of society and all subjects concern us, insists Paul Goze, president of the LNR. Rugby is the second French collective sport and it cannot remain outside these themes. We have to make sure that diversity is seen in a positive light. ” Launched in partnership with Têtu magazine and with the support of Société Générale, this initiative entitled "Plaquons l'homophobie" is also supported by two rugby players: the former third line Yannick Nyanga, who became Sports Director of Racing 92, and Yoann Maestri , second row and captain of the Stade Français. The latter explains the reasons for his commitment.
What prompted you to get involved with the League to fight homophobia in rugby?
Yoann Maestri: It is not really to fight against homophobia but rather to remind that sport, and in particular rugby, includes everyone. We must remember that we will not compromise on these values. It's about accepting the difference, if there is one, and everyone.
Have you ever witnessed exclusion scenes in a locker room?
No. There are few players who have come out, few players who have talked about this. We especially remember the escapades of the Australian player (Israel Folau, excluded from the Australian Federation for repeated homophobic remarks and now player of the Catalan Dragons at XIII, Editor's note) but there is a lot of positive in our sport. We must continue to instill it and play on it. Especially compared to the youngest, it is important to have a duty of exemplarity and to remember that young girls or young boys who play rugby, whatever their sexuality, their origin, their religion, must be accepted in a locker room.
"Manliness, fighting spirit, harshness have nothing to do, in my eyes, with sexuality"
As a captain, have you ever used inappropriate words to motivate your troops?
There is no need to modify captain's speeches because we are not playing on this thing. Manliness, combativeness, harshness have nothing to do with, in my eyes, sexuality. We can be tough, we can go for something deep in the fight on the field, in mental preparation but there is a huge difference between that and the exclusion that could live a player who would feel in brutal minority compared to sexuality.
Among young people or in small clubs, however, we hear homophobic words ...
These are words that come under education. They are used between boys. Not just rugby. Between boys who challenge each other. Often, there is this relationship between weak of the "bulb" which means that one must always find one weaker than another, less virile, which seems weaker. We often bring that back to the feminine side. It is unfortunate but I find that it is done less and less. It is also linked to fear, to the stupidity of a young man.
Could a locker room change if a player comes out?
I do not think and I do not hope so. God knows if we are discussing trivial or important things in a locker room. We spend almost all of our time, training but also traveling together. We have a lot of discussions, on a lot of subjects, we talked about it between teammates. There would be discussion and, I think, acceptance. When you are teammates in rugby, it is important to help each other when the team is going badly or to celebrate when something is successful. If a player were to say it and we felt a fear of having hidden it and then revealed it, we would feel discomfort. And we should reassure him that in the locker room the vision of his teammates would not change. On the contrary, there would be no worry about her sexual orientation.
“In rugby, we have an audience that is much more measured than in football. But afterwards, it is also in the image of society ”
The other big problem concerns insults by supporters ...
No ... There is less provocation than in football for example. Who says provocation says strong levers: racism, sexuality, religions. In rugby, we have an audience that is much more measured. But, afterwards, it is also in the image of society. Of course there are people who are quite open, others who are very closed. In any case, in a rugby wardrobe, we have the same jersey, the same shorts, the same socks, the same treatment as we are the youngest, the oldest, the tallest, the smallest, the strongest , the most menu ... It must not change.
Speaking of fiery audiences, you will, with the Stade Français, return Sunday to Toulon, the club where you started ...
(Smile) It's always special! But positively. We (Stade Français), we are in a complex situation, we know that we have to continue and that we have to work harder in the last race that awaits us with a view to the end of the championship.
The other news is the coronavirus. Have you started to receive specific instructions from your club?
But no ! (Smile) I'm not a doctor, either, otherwise we wouldn't both be here. The referents will give us information at the appropriate time. Of course you can be affected in sports, like everyone else. Unfortunately. Like everyone else, we remain vigilant. Even if we are lucky enough to have full-time doctors with us. It is important.
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