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‘I was always admitted because of my abilities and not because of my gender or sexuality’

As we look ahead to the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup, we will highlight intersectional representation in rugby and highlight what makes women’s rugby unique.

As part of our Pride Month celebrations, England 15s and British sevens star Meg Jones spoke to RugbyPass about the role rugby plays in supporting the LGBTQ+ community and shared some of her own experiences of doing so.

“From the beginning, regardless of my sexuality, I was always accepted into the sport as the only girl who played with the boys. “I was always included because of my abilities and not because of my gender or sexuality,” she said.

“At a young age, sexuality is not something that is ever discussed. When I was 15 or 16 years old it was something that was more accepted in the game. From the point of view of women and girls, it is something that is accepted and normalized; It’s being talked about a lot more and people are opening up to it.

“There’s some banter about it, especially in the beginning when you come out, but it’s all very acceptable. Of course I had question marks hanging over my head, but that was more focused on my family because I came to the team first because it was a lot easier.

“It normalized it for me and that was really important because I probably wouldn’t have had such an easy way to tell my family without the support of my rugby club and community. It allowed me to accept myself too,” Jones added.

What can rugby do to show support this Pride Month (and throughout the year)?

“I think rugby is one of the biggest supporters and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. The most important thing is representation and visibility – that matters. I know Harlequins are making a huge change in their pride games, waving the rainbow flag, which I think is really important because there’s so much history and everything behind it.

“Sharing historical moments of lesbian, gay, transgender and queer individuals and sharing stories is very important. I know the rugby community has been very supportive of mine and Celia’s story and we have had nothing but positive feedback. That’s what the rugby community stands for.

“The rugby community is very open-minded and I think there has been quite a bit of visibility over the years with individuals who have been open enough to talk about it.

“One of the main reasons I talk about it is because I want people to feel comfortable talking about it. It’s not ‘you have to come out because I’m coming out’, it’s just a matter of saying, ‘This is me and my girlfriend, we’re very normal and it’s no different than a heterosexual couple.’

“It’s about normalizing that behavior as much as possible and visibility is paramount.

What makes a good ally?

“Ask questions and don’t be shy. We’re going to do things wrong; Even I, from my point of view, I misunderstand things. It’s about being curious and not rude, that’s all people ask for.

“When people are curious, you want to help and inform them if they really want to help you. Just support individuals who may be a little different than your ‘normal’ person, but then again, what is normal?

“A good ally will wave the flag when necessary and if there are comments that are derogatory or offensive towards any individual in the LGBTQ+ community, shut them down.

‘You might say, ‘I know you’re joking, but have you thought about how that makes them feel?’ Don’t get me wrong, I love a joke as much as the next person, but when it comes from a bad place it’s “wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like you care about me.” You certainly have to take enough care of it, but those are really just human interactions.”