The NRL is unlikely to implement a Pride Round this season, admitting there are no plans to add additional themed rounds.
Last season, the league celebrated Multicultural Round, Anzac Round, and Women in League Round, but the issue of a pride-celebrating jersey proved to be one of the most divisive issues.
While the league didn’t officially set up a round dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, Manly decided to release and wear a pride-themed kit.
The issue proved to cause controversy in the Sea Eagles' ranks with seven players choosing to boycott the jersey due to religious and cultural beliefs.
Uproar followed the players and the club with the outrage causing great harm to members of the LGBTQI+ community.
The aftermath has seen a huge majority of NRL club executives anonymously oppose the launch of a pride round for the 2023 season.
Australian rugby chief Peter V’landys floated the possibility of a ‘Respect Round’ when asked about a Pride Round being launched in 2023.
However, NRL boss Andrew Abdo essentially hinted at the fact that neither a ‘Respect’ or ‘Pride’ round would be launched in 2023.
Abdo told reporters at the launch of NRL’s Multicultural Round: “We are dealing with the themed rounds as we go through the season. We’re not expecting to make any changes.
“Our focus now is on Multicultural Round, and you will see the other rounds unfold as we move through the season.”
The NRL launched their Multicultural Round on Tuesday (March 14), recognising the 63 national heritages within the league.
There were hundreds of students at Belmore Stadium, along with former and current stars of the game Sonny Bill Williams, Tiana Penitani, and Hazem El Masri - on hand to promote inclusivity.
Abdo, himself, is of South African and Lebanese descent, and so the round holds a special place to him.
He said: “The young people from different cultures and backgrounds and making them feel really included and giving them the tools to assimilate into society – it’s something I relate to as a kid who grew up from a mixed background, often feeling like an outsider.
“Sport was a way in which I felt more included. To have this program running is another extra element to Multicultural Round.
“Often in society, we congregate with people very similar to us with similar backgrounds, similar genders or whatever the case may be. Sport forces us in a way to be able to see the benefits and strength from diversity.”
Featured Image Credit: NRL/Supplied.
Topics: Australia, NRL, Rugby League