V'landys open to new NRL inclusion round

·3-min read

The NRL is open to considering an inclusion round in future seasons as the game battles out of the haze of Manly's rainbow jersey fiasco.

On the same day seven Sea Eagles confirmed they would boycott a match because they were unwilling to wear the inclusion jersey, ARLC boss Peter V'landys revealed he was open to a dedicated Pride Round going forward.

The NRL already has several speciality rounds scheduled into their season, including this weekend's Women in League, an Indigenous round and Beanies for Brain Cancer.

The league has an inclusion policy and framework, but no such round to raise awareness of the rights of minority groups such as the LGBTQI in the same way several other sports do.

Manly's rainbow jersey is also the first of its kind in representing the LGBTQI community among other groups, with no other NRL club having made such a significant statement in the past.

The idea of a unified approach in the form of a Pride Round has previously been pitched by the game's first openly gay player in Ian Roberts, and V'landys was clear in his support when asked about it on Tuesday.

"Absolutely. We are the greatest game for all, not just for a select few, for all," V'landys said at the Women in League launch.

"If we recognise those people absolutely, I have no problem for that.

"We are very proud that we are a game for everybody ... It is important that every man and woman can go to a game and they feel as included as everyone else."

The AFLW held a Pride Round earlier this year, prompting GWS player Haneen Zreika to sit out a game rather than wear a specially designed jersey.

Adelaide United hosted a Pride Game in the A-League last summer, while the Sydney Sixers host a similar event in the Big Bash and the English Premier League supports the rainbow laces campaign.

Pride in Sport Australia on Tuesday championed the idea of such rounds and jerseys, while former Manly star Roberts also trumpeted the notion.

"Hopefully the NRL pick the ball up and run with it and we can have a Pride Round," Roberts said.

"We need pride rounds because education is what this is all about."

Any such round would likely raise significant issues across the league, with Manly's boycotters holding concerns over their jersey on cultural, religious and family grounds.

V'landys said he was accepting of players' freedom of choice, pointing out they have the right to sit out matches if they do not agree with the league's inclusion policy.

Significant consultation between the NRL and players' union would likely be key in any move, with the Rugby League Players' Association making clear communication was among the key problems at Manly.

"One of the positives that will come from this, as a game we will get a better understanding of where some players stand on this situation," Manly captain and RLPA general president Daly Cherry-Evans said.

"They have been able to get a bit of the lay of the land, it will be up to the NRL if they want to proceed with something that big."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting