Whether it’s the Springboks, the Blue Bulls, the Sharks or even the Lions, virtually no South African can resist watching their favourite teams battling it out on the rugby field. After all, this is a sport which is at the heart of pretty much every South African.
But with an array of popular rugby teams gracing national television stations and taking to international fields, did you know there is a rugby club in South Africa which is our country’s first gay and inclusive rugby team?
The Jozi Cats was founded in 2015 and during 2016, the rugby club launched a recruitment campaign challenging homophobic slurs and stereotypes. In fact, the campaign attracted international attention with posters of team members accompanied by words such as queen, pansy and fairy.
Since being founded, the Jozi Cats has toured towns and cities across South Africa, spreading a message of tolerance and inclusiveness in sports.
In April 2017, the Jozi Cats became the first non-European club invited to participate in the biennial Union Cup, which was held in Madrid. This is after the club secured sponsorship from Exclusive Books.
In 2018, the Jozi Cats signed a partnership agreement with Microsoft South Africa. The partnership will see Microsoft South Africa providing cloud-based services to the club, as well as supporting the club and its growth.
What makes the Jozi Cats so special?
Based in Johannesburg, Jozi Cats is Africa’s first inclusive, competitive rugby club. The club stands for being a people’s association first, a sporting organisation second, and thirdly it is a community change-maker.
The club always strives to live by its values, both on and off the field, as it hopes to inspire local and global sporting plus LGBTQI+ to follow their example.
As a registered NPO, the club’s mission is to provide a safe space for our communities to enjoy the game of Rugby by promoting inclusivity and diversity in sport and equality for all.
The Jozi Cats are not the only gay rugby club in the world, with scores of teams based around the world. Such is the mission to eliminate homophobia, that International Gay Rugby (IGR) exists.
Formerly known as the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB), IGR is the umbrella organisation for the world’s gay and inclusive rugby clubs.
Based in London, IGR is recognised by World Rugby as the representative organisation of the LGBT and inclusive rugby community, up to the point they both have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, outlining a commitment between the two organisations to work together to educate and eliminate homophobia in rugby.
With the Jozi Cats paving the way for the LGBTQI+ community in Africa, it is only a matter of time before more teams tackle homophobia for the love of the sport.