In 2003 Cyril Leroy set up France’s first LGBTQ+ rugby team: Les Gaillards. ‘Although I loved watching rugby on TV, I never thought I could ever play it’. As a gay man, Cyril didn’t feel comfortable to join an existing ‘straight’ rugby club, so he decided to create his own inclusive club set up for LGBTQ+ members. 20 years later the club is still going strong, providing people from the LGBTQ+ community the opportunity to play in a team they feel represents them.
It has a been a transformative experience for Cyril, ‘Rugby changed my life. Made me flourish. Made me travel and meet people I would never have been able to know and meet otherwise.’ And although the team was welcomed by the league when founded, this was not something he could have predicted. Setting up the club was very much a leap in the dark, ‘We didn’t know how people would react to a gay rugby team. Would anyone want to play us? Would they take us seriously? We wanted to prove we were a serious team.’ It proved a success both on and off the field. Cyril even met his husband through rugby and together they ‘have committed, at our small level, to fighting discrimination in sport, through rugby’.
The club itself now has over 90 registered players, two men’s teams and a women’s team and is celebrated as the first of its kind in the country.
"Rugby gave me an identity away from motherhood.”
DEFENDERS OF TOMORROW
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