First English pro rugby union player comes out as gay

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The first English professional rugby union player has come out as gay.

Sam Stanley, publicly came out as gay today.

The 23-year-old English Sevens international is also the nephew of New Zealand’s 1987 World-Cup winning centre Joe Stanley.

The former Saracens back, who is playing for the Ealing Trailfinders, told the Sunday Times he knew he was gay from a young age.

He said: “I was 10 or 11 when I realised I was different to my friends.

“I didn’t want to accept it, I felt that being different wasn’t right. I had a girlfriend and I was thinking that, like some people say, maybe it is a phase.”

Stanley continued: “Millions of people are in the situation, even people who have been in [his partner] Laurence’s situation and they are still married but are gay. They cannot accept it themselves.

“It is going to be an issue until more people and athletes come out, until it is not an issue at all. It might take years but hopefully lots of people will find the courage.”

As well as playing rugby, Stanley likes to post naked photos of himself singing and playing a guitar.

The announcement comes just weeks after Batley Bulldogs prop Keegan Hirst publicly came out as gay.

Hirst, who celebrated on top of a Manchester Pride parade float yesterday, became the first openly gay rugby league player to take part in a game earlier in August.

Hirst, 27, became one of the first players in his sport to open up about his sexuality – and his battle with the “macho” image of Rugby League – in a revealing interview with the the Sunday Mirror.

As he took to the pitch for the first time since coming out yesterday, he became the first British Rugby League player to do so as an out gay man – with an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the crowd and fellow players alike.

Much to the delight of fans, he has since taken part in a naked photoshoot.

Cross-code international Gareth Thomas previously was the only out gay player as he came out whilst playing for rugby union side Cardiff Blues.