The Jozi Cats, South Africa’s first gay and inclusive competitive rugby club say they intend to tackle homophobia in rugby on Human Right’s Day with an inclusive tag rugby tournament.
Teaming up with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) the Jozi Cats tournament, titled the #PrideInRugby tournament, will have a total prize money of R10,000($1,157NZD), and will be hosted at Digger’s Rugby Club (DRC) in Randburg, the home of inclusive rugby in South Africa and the Jozi Cats.
The Digger’s who are one of the oldest rugby clubs in South Africa, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Jozi Cats in 2017, with the aim of taking a stand against homophobia in rugby.
A spokesperson for the South African Human Rights Commission, Gail Smith, said the commission is very excited to collaborate with the Jozi Cats.
“Equality is a foundational value of our constitutional democracy. Homophobia violates this fundamental tenet of our Constitution and is an affront on the dignity of LGBT individuals,” she explained.
“This initiative by Jozi Cats is welcomed as an important sign that homophobia should not be tolerated, either on or off the sports field. Sport matters, both as a vehicle for social cohesion and because it has an undeniable impact on the mental and physical well-being of those who participate.”
Smith added: “More sports clubs should be encouraged to actively challenge homophobia and inequality and to create safe spaces for members of the LBGT community, particularly the youth, to participate.”
Jozi Cats Chairman, Chris Verrijdt, explained that at its core, the club is about connecting communities in a safe space to enjoy rugby. “We felt this was the perfect opportunity to bring our diverse communities together to understand where and how we can all work together to promote inclusivity, diversity and equality.”
Verrijdt added, “Having an organisation like the South African Human Rights Commission as a partner for this day will set an example of how sport can be used both as a lexicon of engagement and understanding to promote tolerance both on and off the field.”
The inclusive tournament will form part of the Digger’s 125-year celebration and will be held on Wednesday the 21st of March 2018, with all proceeds from the #PrideInRugby tournament going to the Jozi Cats, the Digger’s 125-year Trust and the Khayelitsha Cats – a group of lesbian women in Khayelitsha who love slam poetry and rugby.