WORLD RUGBY [FORMERLY known as the IRB] has signed an agreement to collaborate with International Gay Rugby [IGR] on the promotion of equality in the sport.

World Rugby says the agreement with IGR “outlines a commitment between the two organisations to work together to educate and eliminate homophobia in rugby.”

Both parties signed the agreement at World Rugby House on Dublin’s Pembroke Street this week.

IGR chairman Jeff Wilson called this a “momentous occasion” for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT] athletes, pointing to World Rugby as a “trail-blazer” in committing to eliminating homophobia in rugby.

The agreement was termed “historic” by World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset, who underlined that rugby is an inclusive sport.

In a World Rugby statement on the new agreement, IGR and rugby’s governing body agreed that it is “the right of any player, official and spectator to be involved with rugby without discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or identification.”

There is also an agreed common goal of “inclusion and the elimination of homophobia in rugby.”

2014 saw a gay rugby team play on the same bill as a professional match for the first time in world rugby, when the Sydney Convicts faced Macquarie University in the curtain-raiser to a Super Rugby game between the Waratahs and Highlanders in Sydney.

This agreement marks another forward step for equality in rugby.

“World Rugby is a trail-blazer as a global governing body in committing to actively eliminate homophobia from any sport. We are committed to partnering with World Rugby to continue our work of making rugby the most inclusive and tolerant sport in the world.

“The bold step by World Rugby to commit to these shared purposes with IGR reflects the character-building values that are important to us all in the sport. Hopefully, other sporting governing bodies can look to World Rugby as a role model and follow suit.”

– First published 09.36, then updated 16.00.

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