Positives can come out of the Rugby League Club shirt controversy


Manly-Warringah Rugby League captain Daly Cherry-Evans thinks his team can draw a positive balance from what has been a contentious week in which the club decided the team would wear an LGBTQ-inspired uniform during Thursday night’s game without consulting the players first, a decision that led to seven players refusing to play for religious or cultural reasons.

Speaking to the media after the game, in which the Sea Eagles lost 20-10 to the Sydney Roosters, Cherry-Evans said it was important to understand the backgrounds and perspectives of all players.

“I think…for us to play in this jersey, you know, how can we not go there and understand and accept what people have done if we’re trying here to represent inclusivity and diversity,” he said. -he declares. said.

Cherry-Evans added that there was a lot of emotion in this issue, and despite the different views among players, it could “bring the team together like never before”.

“So like I said, I always see the opportunity in things and I think it can be a chance for us to come together and understand each other a little bit more and learn from that and move forward,” he said.

Sea Eagles’ Daly Cherry-Evans (2nd L) defends during the rugby union match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Sydney Roosters in Sydney, Australia on July 28, 2022. (Photo by Glenn Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

It comes after coach Des Hasler apologized to the seven players who refused to play ‘for any confusion, discomfort and pain’ that lack of consultation in the decision to wear the rainbow striped shirt could have caused them.

“We accept your cultural beliefs and hope you can accept our apologies,” he said.

Hasler Hopes Club can learn from experience

Speaking alongside Cherry-Evans after Thursday night’s game, Hasler also viewed the experience as a learning opportunity.

“It’s been very emotional in every aspect, but we’re human, and I think as long as we learn from it and as long as we grow,” he said.

“And I’m just being honest…we have a little work to do, but as long as we’re all sympathetic to each other’s cause, we’ll get there.”

Epoch Times Photo
(L-R) Sea Eagles Daly Cherry-Evans and Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler speak to the media at 4 Pines Park in Sydney, Australia on July 26, 2022. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Despite the understaffed team taking the field against the Roosters, Hasler was overall pleased with their performance.

“Given the introduction, the size change, and four newbies, and people with COVID and people coming back from COVID, it was a pretty brave effort,” he said.

“They could have done some things a little better, but considering the short turnaround and preparation, it wasn’t a bad display.”

A limit to what is pushed on athletes

Cherry-Evans said the sport needs to be careful about the amount of social representation imposed on players in order to further market the game, pointing out that every rugby league team is very diverse and already inclusive.

“So I’m just wondering what we need to do as athletes…because we’re already a lot of things that we’re trying to represent, what the club is trying to make you represent,” he said.

“So I think at some point we have to understand that sport is pretty inclusive; it’s not perfect, there are limits. But I know from my time in the game, that’s a lot of the stuff we’re talking about tonight.

“But, unfortunately, when people are put in a position where they have to do something that they don’t want to do, I think that’s when you see positions like tonight,” said Cherry Evans.

Steve Milne

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Steve is a Sydney-based Australian journalist covering sport, arts and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast and amateur musician. Contact him at [email protected]

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