For a city that is AFL mad, launching a gay rugby team was always going to be a challenge.
The Adelaide University Sharks are Adelaide’s first LGBTQIA+ inclusive rugby team, and after launching two years ago the club has proven exceedingly popular.
The club provides a safe environment for physical and mental well-being through sport for the LGBTIQ+ community and allies.
President Cam Forster said the inspiration came from an out player who wanted to create a community for queer sportsmen.
“Internationally gay rugby is quite popular, there are about 100 teams around the world,” Cam said
“And nationally there’s quite a few, so we wanted to start one up here.
“We wanted more than just waving a rainbow flag, we wanted something tangible and meaningful for the community.”
However, starting a rugby team in South Australia came with a unique set of challenges.
“Most of us hadn’t played rugby before,” Cam said
After an initial ‘come and try’ event saw 30 men turn out, the team launched its own rugby academy to teach players the ins and outs of the code.
‘We’ve formed a brotherhood’
The Sharks provide a safe space for gay and bisexual men to form friendships and enjoy the sport in an inclusive environment.
Cam said seeing the camaraderie develop between players had been a highlight of his time with the team.
“Seeing that team spirit come alive is amazing,” Cam said.
“Guys who have never picked up a rugby ball are coming to training and playing in the rain and cold every week.
“It’s amazing seeing the connection they make to the sport and community, and the benefits for their health and wellbeing.”
Cam said he stopped playing AFL after feeling like he didn’t fit in with the culture around the sport.
Joining a gay rugby team has provided him and other players with a community outside of the heteronormative culture of many codes.
“We have 25 gay guys on the team, especially in Adelaide, that’s a pretty high concentration of the rainbow community,” he said
“Being able to come together and share common interests and have our own language, we’ve formed a brotherhood.”
The Adelaide University Sharks alway welcome new players.
Training is provided for those that are unfamiliar with rugby union. For more information, get in touch via their Facebook.
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