France rugby captain Antoine Dupont says he would ‘stop a match’ over homophobia

Antoine Dupont, pictured in a portrait style photo.

French rugby union star Antoine Dupont has drawn a line in the sand over homophobic rhetoric in the sport.

The Toulouse scrum-half made his feelings clear, saying: “From now on, if a player makes homophobic remarks on the pitch, I would stop the match because things have to change.”

Dupont, who captained France to Six Nations glory in 2022, told LGBTQ+ magazine Têtu that he believes rugby is an accepting place, but that players need to speak out more in support of queer people.

Only one professional rugby star in France, Jeremy Clamy-Edroux, is out publicly as gay.

Dupont said that he didn’t believe there “is only one gay [player] on the pitch,” but that teams must show their support to give others the strength to come out.

Antoine Dupont with his thumb up to the crowd in a rugby game.
Antoine Dupont said that rugby is accepting but players need to do more. (Getty)

“The goal is for all players to feel good about their sexuality and to be accepted by others. Even if rugby can be seen as macho, we are very open-minded, and today I think we are all capable of accepting others’ sexual orientations.”

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While rugby is widely considered to be more accepting than sports such as football, it still has a long way to go.

A study in 2020 found that almost half of male rugby union players in the UK admitted using homophobic slurs, while two-thirds had heard teammates use similar language.

While much of the language use was not motivated by explicit homophobic malice, 69 per cent of rugby players still used phrases like “f*g” or “dyke”, the research showed.

“It is surprising to see a near-total disconnect between the homophobic language being used by rugby players and their attitudes to gay people,” Erik Denison, one of the researchers, said.

“Most rugby players say they use the homophobic language to get a laugh out of others, or fit in on their team, and it seems they don’t realise how harmful this is to gay people or to team culture generally.”

Dupont said: “Little jokes, if there is a gay person in our team and they hear them, it won’t help them to speak and come out. We still assimilate rugby, which is a sport of strength, of combat, to this slightly macho side where you have to be a man, a real one. But today, I think we have overcome these constraints.”

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