Rugby league is a sport for everybody regardless of gender, age or sexuality and the NRL had a PR disaster in 2022 when members from the Manly squad refused to wear the pride jersey.
Part of the playing group at Manly Sea Eagles reportedly refused to wear the specifically designed jersey that would have seen the rainbow flag colours across the shirt’s chest.
As a result Manly were at the peak of controversy and their season ended up fizzling out with seven losses and a sacked head coach.
One man who was more than happy to stand proud and support the cause was Cronulla Sharks’ forward Toby Rudolph, who has even campaigned for a pride round.
Rudolph has even since revealed that as a result of his stance he received plenty of messages of support, even mentioning one fan who claimed Rudolph had saved their life.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said: “I was raised by quite a few gay and lesbian community members. My uncle is gay and my godmother is gay, and there’s so much love in that community.
“Sexuality is very fluid. I’ve been out and kissed many gay men, kissed many straight women and kissed many gay women.”
He’s since spoken with Foxsports.com.au. revealing the messages of support he received.
“Without getting too personal with some of them, I do remember there was one kid that was saying that his family had just completely shunned him,” Rudolf said.
“It was my comments that sort of kept him from taking his own life, honestly, that was one of the messages he sent.”
“That was powerful for me, I am one front rower in a team, who doesn’t score too many tries, isn’t too popular.”
“But if you can get an entire sport behind it, it promotes the positivity and it will create it.”