3 Aug 2016

Chiefs should attend LGBT meeting - gay rugby team captain

11:15 am on 3 August 2016

The captain of the country's only gay rugby team, the New Zealand Falcons, wants the Chiefs to attend a LGBT community meeting after one of its players admitted making homophobic comments in public.

Michael Allardice

Chiefs player Michael Allardice has phoned Brendan Barraclough to apologise for his comments. Photo: PhotoSport

Chiefs player Michael Allardice has apologised for shouting "here come the gays" and making sexually explicit comments while Chiefs players were having drinks at the Okoroire hot springs on Monday night.

New Zealand Falcons captain Jeremy Brankin

New Zealand Falcons captain Jeremy Brankin Photo: Supplied

He said the jibes were aimed at teammates but Brendan Barraclough, who was also at the hot springs, believed they were intended for him and his partner.

The Chiefs' main sponsor, Gallagher Group, said it was hugely disappointed by the behaviour, and wanted Allardice to have counselling.

Mr Barraclough said it was a wider problem and he wanted to see something that would change attitudes within the entire Chiefs team.

"Get somebody in and talk about all the discrimination that's going on, and what the Chiefs are going have to be careful with around homosexuality, race, age, all of that. They need to understand that it's not OK to talk like that," he said.

New Zealand Falcons captain Jeremy Brankin agreed more needed to be done to curb anti-gay attitudes within the team, and the rugby world.

Brankin said Allardice and his fellow Chiefs players should attend a LGBT community meeting, as actions would speak louder than a mere apology.

"It seems that every few months we're having instances where there's these homophobic comments in an interview, or from players or on the field, or on the sideline, and there just seems to be these apologies and they feel very empty, very token, maybe the players' management sort of say 'maybe you just need to put out an apology'," Brankin said.

He said the New Zealand Rugby Union also needed to prove it was serious about its involvement in the 'Sport For Everyone' initiative, which aimed to make the sport more diverse and tolerant.

Comments like Allardice's set a bad example, Mr Brankin said.

"Some young person out there could hear these comments, or see this person, and this is their role model, and they think 'he's not accepting of who I am'. Or another person thinks, 'He can say those comments, I can say them on the rugby field as well, because if he's doing it why can't I?'".

Chiefs head Andrew Flexman said Allardice's comments weren't aimed at Mr Barraclough and his partner but teammates walking behind the pair.

"The comment was directed at two of his teammates who had just entered the venue who were dressed in costume, so Michael accepts that the comments that were made were offensive, they were inappropriate.

"Michael's hugely regretful about having made them but it's our position that they were not directed at Brendan," Mr Flexman added.

But Mr Barraclough wasn't convinced.

"I didn't believe his story, and I've spoken to the two other people that were there and there was nobody coming up the track behind us but, regardless of that, it's a big thing for him to ring up and apologise," Mr Barraclough said.

"He'll be embarrassed and the fact that he's chosen to be named himself, because I've refused to name who it was all along, that's a big thing and I've accepted his apology."

Mr Flexman said the Chiefs were considering what, if any, action would be taken against Allardice.

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