Inclusiveness and opportunity in sport has been a recurring theme for Adelaide University Sport in 2019 and we love seeing our clubs mirror us in creating opportunities for everyone to get involved. The Adelaide University Rugby Union Football Club (AURUFC) launched their new gay and inclusive team, the Adelaide University Sharks, at their recent Rugby – Have a Go event.
Program coordinator Peter Stephen is excited to have brought the concept to South Australia. “Six gay and inclusive rugby clubs exist in Australasia, the Australian clubs being Melbourne Chargers, Brisbane Hustlers, Perth Rams and Sydney Convicts, and Adelaide was next in line to initiate the project. This means the gay community can also enjoy a physical and dynamic sports community locally and globally. This enables South Australian players to represent their home city in gay and inclusive rugby tournaments. There are over 106 gay and inclusive rugby teams around the world, the AU Sharks are 98th in this group.”
The Rugby – Have a Go event was a successful way to launch the team, with plenty of new faces present on the day. “The event was definitely a success with 13 new rugby players attending and taking part in the day’s activities of basic skills, interacting with current players and the barbeque and networking. Given the weather drizzled with rain continuously shows the genuine desire for these new Sharks, the Shark Pups, to play rugby. Feedback was positive for the development of a gay and inclusive team and participants look forward to the opportunities rugby can bring. Two players, Miguel and Nathan advised they loved it and had never even touched a ball before. Seven returned the next night and we discussed further recruitment to ensure we enter the 2020 season with a full squad. Within just three days, the interest from their friends was growing and has continued to do so.”
Creating diversity in sport continues to be a focal point for the AURUFC. “We recognise the need to reflect a diversified community across the tertiary campus culture. This year, the club re-introduced a women’s team and enjoys the benefits of their input to sport, culture and community throughout all levels of our sport. In addition, the sudden import of women and the creation of the team provided a level of support, experience and development for new players coming in from the university campus. These are the same benefits that will come to AURUFC with the implementation of the Sharks.”
So what’s next for the Sharks? Peter says they’ll begin with the Sharks Academy. “Everyone is welcome to participate in the Sharks Academy. The Academies will teach the skills, language and culture of rugby. In the process, the team will form and create its own cultural identity amongst the players and supporters. The Academy is $20 per person and this is a one off payment until the start of the 2020 season. The Academies will continue to cycle through until February 2020 when the Sharks enter their first preseason training.”
Academy participants will also get an opportunity to compete as early as September. “The players completing the first Academy series will be eligible to compete as a part of the Purchas Barbarians 2019 team this September in Brisbane. The Barbarians is a mixed bag of players from all over Australia and New Zealand who do not belong to a formal gay and inclusive team, but still want to participate.”
Peter is confident that as the program continues to grow association with the Sharks will benefit people seeking similar opportunities internationally. “Being part of the International Gay Rugby community provides AURUFC members with a broader network of rugby relations should members go onto continue studies with other institutions interstate or overseas. The ability to walk into other gay and inclusive clubs and say, ‘I play for the Adelaide University Sharks’ guarantees a warm welcome.”
If you’d like to get involved, support the program or simply learn more, the easiest way is to jump onto their Facebook page, like the page and flick them a message, or head down to Waite Campus on a Monday night at 6.30pm and participate in a session, like it and sign up. Alternatively, you can check out their page on our website here or contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.