‘Homophobic slurs’ blemish Aussie derby

Date published: March 22 2015

Sunday's fine contest between the Waratahs and Brumbies was overshadowed post-match by accusations of homophobic slurs.

Brumbies replacement David Pocock, heard over the referee's microphone, told referee Craig Joubert twice that the comments from the opposition were of a homophobic nature.

"You heard that sir … you can't say that, there could be gay players out there. Their captain said: that's rugby. That's not right."

Pocock's two complaints, in the 67th and 72nd minute, were addressed by Joubert when he spoke to Waratahs captain Michael Hooper.

"I'm getting some pretty aggressive comments coming from your guys – that there are homophobic slurs [being made]," said the referee, with Hooper denying the claim by saying "we're not into that." 

A reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald later reported that the Brumbies have lodged a formal complaint over the comments, with a citation to come.

Pocock spoke about the incident afterwards to the Canberra Times.

"As players, we've said the Brumbies aren't going to tolerate any homophobic slurs, I just made that clear to the referee that it's unacceptable. You can be the toughest man in the world, but it's got nothing to do with using that sort of language.

"I certainly haven't heard much in the last few years. I guess in the last year or two Australian rugby has started to address, and rightly so from Bill Pulver right down, that there's no use for homophobic language in our sport and we want to make it inclusive.

"Where you start is quelling out that sort of language. I didn't hear it myself, I was just making the referee aware of it so he could act. 

"Our job as players is to quell it out. That's what we did, I don't think it should be a witch hunt. It's about educating the players and ensuring that rugby does become more inclusive."