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SPIRO: The case of David Pocock and homophobia in rugby

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert


415 Have your say

Popular article! 7,708 reads

    Around the 67th minute of the intense, often nasty Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Brumbies, during a break in play, a stressed David Pocock told the referee Craig Joubert: “There’s some homophobic slurs being made.”

    “I didn’t hear anything but I totally agree with you, it’s unacceptable,” Joubert told Pocock.

    The referee asked the Waratahs captain Michael Hooper to have a word to his forwards: “I’m getting some pretty aggressive comments coming from your guys, that there are homophobic slurs (being made).”

    “We’re not into that,” Hooper told him.

    Pocock clearly did not regard this response as proper and adequate. He turned to Joubert and raised the matter again with him: “You heard that sir … you can’t say that, there could be gay players out there.”

    Then getting a confirmation on this point from Joubert, Pocock continued: “That’s fine, but after that their captain said ‘That’s rugby’. That’s not right.”

    A video clip of Pocock’s first appeal to Joubert shows Stephen Moore, the Brumbies captain and hooker, standing a little distance with a look of slight concern on his face and seemingly nodding his head in agreement.

    The slurs were said to have been made when the scrums packed. Presumably, Moore knew what was said and who said it.

    The point here is that, according to the LGBTI news site The Star Observer, Pocock did not actually hear the offensive word being said.

    Pocock is quoted by the news site as saying: “…there’s no room for homophobic language in our sport and we want to make it inclusive… Where you start is quelling out that sort of language. I didn’t hear it myself, I was just making the referee aware of it so he could act.”

    One of the problems with the quick and decisive action taken by the ARU is that none of the details of the two incidents when the homophobic word (said to be ‘faggot’) was spoken have been laid out.

    We know that Jacques Potgieter made the homophobic comments but we do not know who it was made to. We do not know any of the circumstances around the comments. And we do not know what Michael Hooper heard and why he responsed the way he did.

    The CEO of the Brumbies, Michael Jones, told reporters according to Wayne Smith in The Australian that “my understanding is that was one player he (Potgieter) was directing it at. I make no judgment or care, but he is not a homosexual. The comment was more the tone and the nature of what he was doing.”

    As the conservative political blogger Tim Blair has pointed out, Potgieter has been fined for making a gay slur to a player who is not gay.

    Jones elaborated on where Potgieter had gone wrong: “It was just the fact that he making generally derogatory comments and fairly aggressive comments on a whole range of things and one of them was the specific homophobic one.

    “There has been a long tradition in rugby that what happens on the field stays on the field. Some people have said he (Potgieter) went outside that. The fact was that he (Pocock) was on the field and raised it with the referee.”

    This is hardly a ringing endorsement of Pocock’s decision to alert Joubert to Potgieter’s homophobic comment and, as a consequence, make the incident a public matter.

    Wayne Smith’s take on this is interesting. On Tuesday in The Australian, in an article where he argued that Pocock may have cost himself the Wallabies captaincy, he wrote this:

    “Yet the fact that Brumbies backed out of lodging the formal complaint that coach Stephen Larkham foreshadowed at the post-match press conference suggests Pocock’s club felt the matter had gone far enough.

    “Certainly the prevailing opinion in Australian rugby circles yesterday was that Pocock should have handled the matter differently, perhaps by confronting the offender in the ‘Tahs dressing after the match.”

    If Pocock had done this and waited for the sanctuary of the dressing rooms, Smith pointed out, the incident would have been “quietly buried.” As it happened, “it is only because he acted so forthrightly… that we are even having this discussion today.”

    So this raises the question – should Pocock have been so forthright?

    On Monday 23 March at 7.00 pm, a media release from the ARU appeared in my hotmail basket: JACQUES POTGIETER ISSUED $20,000 FINE FOR HOMOPHOBIC COMMENTS

    The media release noted that $10,000 of the $20,000 fine was suspended. Potgieter had admitted to “making comments contrary to the ARU’s Inclusion Policy.” He was also required to undergo additional educational and awareness training.

    “Our Inclusion Policy,” the ARU CEO Bill Pulver noted, “reinforces Australian Rugby’s commitment to ensure every individual, whether they are players, supporters, coaches or administrators, feel safe, welcome and included regardless of race, gender or sexuality.

    ?I’d like to stress again that there is absolutely no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words on and off the field must reflect that.”

    Having made this strong statement about the how unacceptable homophobic comments are in rugby, the media release ended somewhat with a whimper:

    “The ARU, Waratahs, the rugby union Players’ Association (RUPA) and the player himself (Potgieter) have determined that the matter does not need to be heard by a Tribunal and accepted this penalty.”

    Some hours before the ARU statement was released, Jon Tuxworth at The Canberra Times published a story headed: Sydney Convicts gay player praises David Pocock.

    The gay player is Brennan Bastyovanszky. The Sydney Convicts is a gay rugby team.

    Bastyovanszky praised the work of the Waratahs franchise in devoting time and resources towards coaching the Sydney Convicts, and other gay rugby clubs:

    “Rugby in Australia, the Waratahs especially, have been wonderful in raising awareness around homophobia so it might simply be an isolated incident with a player who needs re-education.”

    On Tuesday, too, Rupert Guiness in the SMH wrote a comment article with the heading: Remorseful Potgieter hit with huge fine over gay slurs.

    The article confirmed that Potgieger had completed the ARU’s integrity training, “which includes the member protection policy around inclusion and racism.”

    Guiness also reported that Andrew Purchas, Australia’s gay rugby union and anti-homophobia sports campaigner, the president of the 2014 Bingham Cup international gay rugby tournament in Sydney (with David Pocock as an ambassador), had contacted Pocock on the Monday morning, before the ARU meeting, to offer support.

    “It is great that he is walking the talk,” Purchas said.

    Purchas also stated that he is confident homophobia is not rife in rugby: “Generally it is not a systemic issue. We’ve been happy with the support.”

    The gist of most of this commentary is that rugby has an excellent record in dealing with homophobic behaviour.

    Did David Pocock over-react, then?

    Israel Folau, out in the backs at fullback and well away from where the homophobic comments were made, told reporters that the Waratahs were not a homophobic team:

    “Certainly not. I don’t see that anywhere within our team and also in rugby in general.”

    But while Potgieter has apologised for his comments, I haven’t read any comment or apology from Michael Hooper for dismissing Pocock’s allegation of homophobic slurs as something that could not have happened.

    The case for supporting Pocock was made eloquently in the SMH by the newspaper’s Chief Sport Writer, Andrew Webster, a proud gay man, under the self-explanatory heading: David Pocock should be applauded, not criticised, for standing up against homophobia.

    I regard Webster as one of Australia’s most brilliant sports writers. The gist of his argument in defence of Pocock, was that it is easier to say nothing than to take a stand. Pocock has used his public profile on a number of issues, but he’s been mostly outspoken about homophobia, and a champion of same-sex marriage.

    Webster pointed out that earlier in March, “Wallabies and Brumbies star Matt Toomua was front and centre of the lead float at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The float celebrated both Sydney’s hosting of the Bingham Cup, and the signing of the Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework by Australia’s top five sporting codes.

    “The argument that ‘what stays on the field’ no longer applies, it hasn’t applied for years. It stopped the moment the sport became professional, with saturated television coverage bringing thousands of eyes and ears right into the middle of the field…

    “The word ‘faggot’ is a homophobic slur. It’s not being over-sensitive or politically correct to suggest as much. It mightn’t hurt you, but try being on the end of it.”

    This comment about the hurt inflicted by homophobic comments on gays is heart-felt and needs to be acknowledged. And it resonates with me.

    All my public life, during my very short sporting career and a long career as a journalist, I have experienced of racist comments, some more hurtful than others.

    I have written about the most obnoxious of these comments, as some readers of The Roar will know.

    Despite this background and a sympathy for anyone who is subjected to racist or homophobic comments, I am ambivalent about totally supporting David Pocock’s determination to make a public issue over Potgieter’s comments.

    There is a certain selectivity involved in the Potgieter matter that concerns me.

    I ask myself, is any homophobic comment so outrageous that it must be publicly exposed and re-education imposed on the person making it?

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (415)

    • March 25th 2015 @ 4:10am
      Jarijari said | March 25th 2015 @ 4:10am | ! Report

      I was a Dapto dog as a kid in the 60s and 70s Spiro and still am. Just not PC to call me that anymore. Not often I agree with you 100% but, yep, on the money this time.

      • March 25th 2015 @ 2:04pm
        ben said | March 25th 2015 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

        Did i read that correctly……David Pocock did NOT actually hear the slur. a $20k fine!!!!! give me just a small break please. Honestly, no one condones the comment but please some perspective…..and if Pocock did not actually hear the slur then he owes an apology for not taking this topic on appropriately.

        I think Pocock could have done more harm than good. Talk about a soap box. This is 2015……..all topics or race and bigotry need to be treated with a mature view. Pocock could have the same in fact more effective response by saying “I heard this on the field, i am going to take it up with the individual privately, there is no room for this in the game etc……” I expect thats what the general public wanted to hear….not this cry baby nonsense.

        • March 25th 2015 @ 2:58pm
          Birdy said | March 25th 2015 @ 2:58pm | ! Report


        • March 25th 2015 @ 6:21pm
          Jokerman said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

          That’s funny..”there could be gay players out there sir” I said the exact same comment on the roar last year about the Australian front row and I was moderated! I was even highly diplomatic and had in brackets – ‘not that there’s anything wrong with it’. I did steal those words off a seinfield episode where they use those words every time they mention a gay friend or something. It was in reference to having to be so careful not to offend when clearly they were all open types.

    • March 25th 2015 @ 5:00am
      AndyS said | March 25th 2015 @ 5:00am | ! Report

      The line would seem to be drawn. If Potgeiter was fined that much for making a derogatory statement of this kind to a player who was not in fact gay, then I assume we will get no less a penalty, outrage and publicity the next time the players are called anything that a woman might strongly object to being called. After all, if it was all about who might have seen or heard something on TV, women watch the game and could be just as upset at being referenced as a pejorative. I expect to see no less a principled stance, otherwise call ‘hypocrite’ on the lot of them.

      • March 25th 2015 @ 7:51am
        RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        If Potgeiter’s comment (even though not directed at an oppressed minority) is punishable by a $20k fine then surely it must be a send off offence as well. How can you get fined $20k on a footy field for something and not be sent off? If that sanction is now available I trust any infringement of this type in the future will result in send offs and fines. We should also review all past game tapes to identify culprits. Put David Pocock in charge of it, the ARU’s coffers will soon be overflowing.

      • March 25th 2015 @ 7:56am
        grapeseed said | March 25th 2015 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        Um, no. It’s about the spate of gay teenagers committing suicide (some as young as 11 and 12) and using role models in male dominated sports to help change culture and attitudes. I am unsure whether you really believe your reductionist argument, I hope not.

        • March 25th 2015 @ 8:37am
          RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 8:37am | ! Report

          11 & 12 year olds are not teenagers. In any event have you got a stat to support you comment let alone a causal connection.

          • Roar Guru

            March 25th 2015 @ 9:11am
            Handles said | March 25th 2015 @ 9:11am | ! Report

            Way to go RT! You really nailed him there! What a zinger! Woohoo!

            • March 25th 2015 @ 10:00am
              RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:00am | ! Report

              I was trying to work out whether sarcasm or not sarcasm was the lowest form of wit. Thanks for clearing it up for me.

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 11:07am
                Handles said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:07am | ! Report

                I tend to think that wit is the highest form of sarcasm.

          • March 25th 2015 @ 9:14am
            grapeseed said | March 25th 2015 @ 9:14am | ! Report

            Yep, I provided a whole bunch of links the other day, but the post was moderated into the ether. It’s all related to the “It gets better” campaign.

            Nice pedantry on the tween vs teen thing though. I was actually wondering if I would get picked up on that!

          • Roar Guru

            March 25th 2015 @ 12:18pm
            Rob na Champassak said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

            11 & 12 year olds are not teenagers

            Christ almighty, do all your arguments hinge on nitpicking stuff like that? It’s like having an argument with the Rain Man.

            Maybe you have missed the obvious, but it’s not any better if they’re killing themselves before they become teenagers either.

            • March 25th 2015 @ 8:40pm
              Bigjohn said | March 25th 2015 @ 8:40pm | ! Report

              Why is stating a fact regarded as nitpicking ? And i know that it does not support your argument, however i think that quite a few hetrosexual people commit suicide as well. You may like to spare a moment to remember that the world does not always revolve around what homosexuals are doing, or not doing.

          • March 27th 2015 @ 9:00am
            Rollaway7 said | March 27th 2015 @ 9:00am | ! Report

            I wasn’t interested in girls either at 11, does not make me gay. 11-12 is not an age where kids adopt sexuality.

            This is whats wrong with the whole “over PC” thing, people are trying to out PC each other and we end up defending 11 year old gay kids??

            G*d help humanity.

        • Roar Guru

          March 25th 2015 @ 10:06am
          PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          but what about all the young women struggling with body image, male dominated society where women are objectified.
          They feel like second class citizens.

          Surely any use of derogatory terms in relation to women ie saying they play like girsl or use of c..t whilst swearing deserves a 20k fine and sensitivity classes now. A precedent has been set.

          After all we have to be totally inclusive don’t we?

          • Roar Guru

            March 25th 2015 @ 12:32pm
            Rob na Champassak said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

            Surely any use of derogatory terms in relation to women ie saying they play like girsl or use of c..t whilst swearing deserves a 20k fine and sensitivity classes now. A precedent has been set.

            In mixed sports, absolutely.

            • Roar Guru

              March 25th 2015 @ 12:39pm
              PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

              no in all guy teams as well, that is the precedent, it is derogatory to female viewers, fans and in general.

              after all it does not matter if there is no gay player involved in this situation

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 1:18pm
                Rob na Champassak said | March 25th 2015 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

                Hmmm. Actually, it does appear that that is the case. You’ve got me there.


                ARU’s policy on inclusion is simple: Rugby has and must continue to be a sport where players, officials, volunteers, supporters and administrators have the right and freedom to participate regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion and without fear of exclusion. There is no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words both on and off the field must reflect this…


                While this Policy has a focus on homophobia and makes specific reference to gay, lesbian and bisexual people, the overarching principles and intention of the policy is to make a positive statement on the importance of inclusion for all, and the importance of eliminating all forms of discrimination in our game.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 5:30pm
                Quading in... said | March 25th 2015 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

                I get your point of the PC police peterk but come on, let’s not make irrelevant assumptions about applying this as a ‘precedent’ to every possible thing. Using that same logic, you are sarcastically suggesting that ANY word should be ok. If Pocock didn’t stand up for something he is supposed to be an ambassador for, he would be a hypocrite. Bit of perspective please…

            • March 25th 2015 @ 3:00pm
              Birdy said | March 25th 2015 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

              That’s exactly what it’s done

              • March 25th 2015 @ 3:03pm
                Birdy said | March 25th 2015 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

                Funny the policy mentions religion. Does that mean saying Jes.. chr… Gets a $20k fine as well?

              • March 25th 2015 @ 3:12pm
                Yogi said | March 25th 2015 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                What’s your point Birdy?
                By the way if you see any English cricketers over there say hello to them from us over here. hope they had an enjoyable flight home and are enjoying the sky coverage of the CWC.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 4:00pm
                Birdy said | March 25th 2015 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

                Sorry Yogi I’m not the cricket Birdy . I follow both rugby codes but try not to get on the RU site due to the confusion.
                I was very interested in this story .
                My point hopefully will be explained if my last reply gets through.
                I’m really just sitting on the fence leaning slightly in favour of what is said and done in the heat of the battle.

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 3:13pm
                PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

                of course not
                just like words like whitey, skippy, ghost, casper will all be ok since they are aimed at whites
                or ones against men
                or other anti christian ones

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 4:52pm
                Rob na Champassak said | March 25th 2015 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

                Discrimination is bad when it happens to anyone, but if you think that, say, racism affects whites as much as it affects blacks or asians in this country you are kidding yourself.

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 5:08pm
                PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

                Rob – Where in the inclusion policy does it mention that is depends on the the historical effect?

                It states that you cannot discriminate on race and you must be inclusive.

                So if white players are sledged racially the same punishment must be meted out.

                It is not ok at all to anyone.

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 10:19pm
                Rob na Champassak said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

                So if white players are sledged racially the same punishment must be meted out.

                Right. That is not in dispute. I don’t know why you would think that it was.

            • March 27th 2015 @ 10:17am
              Rollaway7 said | March 27th 2015 @ 10:17am | ! Report

              What if the a male player is a cross dressed after hours and actually thinks they are a girl, they would find it offensive?

              See where this is leading us?

      • March 25th 2015 @ 10:56am
        Markus said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        Entirely possible. Do you see that as a bad thing? The way you’ve worded the question it reads almost as if you think this is some sort of slippery slope where the ARU making attempts to minimise unnecessary derision/alienation of an entire gender from professional rugby would be akin to turning rugby into one big expensive session of tiddlywinks.

        Is sexist abuse that vital to your ongoing enjoyment of the game?

        • Roar Guru

          March 25th 2015 @ 11:05am
          PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          agree but it won’t happen.

          Otherwise the next game there should be a fine because I am sure that in every game the c word is used and heard.

          Also what about if the player using it is from NZ or SA playing against an oz team in australia?

        • March 25th 2015 @ 6:37pm
          AndyS said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

          I wouldn’t see it as a bad thing at all, but I am deeply sceptical as to whether it will happen. They’ve laid down a pretty demanding marker now – anything that may cause offence shall be publically identified and punished, even if it might only have offended someone watching the game. That’s a lofty ideal; let’s see whether they’ve actually got the stones to back it up, players and administration.

          My money is on blind eyes all ’round. I think it will be another typical instance of halfarsed lip service, then they all trot off patting themselves on the back like the job is done. When you read this (or pretty much any) rugby blog, many/most of the complaints around the sport are about consistency and fairness. Obviously refereeing, but actually almost everything – what players get cited for, what penalties they get, how franchises and states are treated by the administrations, how the money is shared around, how the competitions are structured, who controls the game as a whole, how the smaller countries are treated…the list is endless. So this is another instance – let’s see if they can be consistent this time, or whether it will all be forgotten about next week.

    • March 25th 2015 @ 5:03am
      riddler said | March 25th 2015 @ 5:03am | ! Report

      I don’t agree with spiro and am 100% with pocock on this..

      Australia needs more like him not less..

      The world is bigger than our backyard and bigger than a rugby field..

      • March 25th 2015 @ 9:13am
        Pinstripe819 said | March 25th 2015 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Absolutely agree. A while ago I was pulled up by a straight friend for referring, jokingly, to someone as a f…t and I was completely taken aback.

        At first I was shocked and defensive, but my friend made the point that everytime someone uses these words in jest, it legitimises its use by someone who doesn’t mean it as a joke. Certain words have a hateful past and the truth is that this word still has a hateful present – it needs to be stamped out at the top and the actions by all involved, including Potgieter in coming forward and apologising, are to be commended.

        The only disappointment has been the rabble created in the press – not just Zavos – as it clutches at the straws of a casually hateful past..

        • Roar Guru

          March 25th 2015 @ 11:34am
          PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:34am | ! Report

          of course lets ignore the hateful present against those who are not on board with everything PC

          • March 25th 2015 @ 12:20pm
            Pinstripe819 said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

            Yo’u’re right Peter, sorry for infringing upon your right to offend without reproach

            • Roar Guru

              March 25th 2015 @ 12:42pm
              PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

              it is not reproach that is used but hate speech against those not on board

              Note I think what Pocock did was ok, not the punishment. I have issue with how anyone not on board with everything is pilloried instead of balanced adult discussion.

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 1:27pm
                Rob na Champassak said | March 25th 2015 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

                hate speech
                Bigoted speech attacking or disparaging a social group or a member of such a group.

                It’s not hate speech. At worst it’s vitriol, but in any case it’s hard to win sympathy for being abused when you’re trying to defend your right to abuse certain others.

              • Roar Guru

                March 25th 2015 @ 2:16pm
                PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                Rob – They are not defending their right to abuse others, they are defending their right to have an alternate view but since they do not agree in all aspects with the PC brigade they come under attack.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 6:11pm
                RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

                Rob fro Brumby Country, Christ almighty do all your arguments hinge on nitpicking stuff like that? It’s like have an argument with rain man.

                I believe the word you’re looking for is touché.

              • Roar Guru

                March 26th 2015 @ 1:08am
                Rob na Champassak said | March 26th 2015 @ 1:08am | ! Report

                PeterK, nobody posting on this site is trying to force them to replace AD with CE, or start calling Easter Eggs ‘Spring Spheres’ or any of the other extreme examples you posted below.

                What’s happened is that the ARU have asked its members to show some consideration for gay players and stop using gay slurs on the field or in their workplace. Pretty much every employer in the country would have similar rules of some sort.

            • March 25th 2015 @ 1:22pm
              Rugby stu said | March 25th 2015 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

              Captain PC Pinstripe “attention!”

              “Now my PC Army fall in, fall in lads. Alright we will launching a campaign and engaging the enemy and twisting all his comments that could be interpreted innaproprately by anyone, in anyway, at anytime. We must eliminate any criticism, questioning, challenging and independent thought in case somebody somewhere is taking offense, nobody has the right to offend, the offended are judge, jury and executioner. Anyone doing the following behaviour shall be labelled a bigot regardless of intention, context or meaning. Alright lads let’s get outraged and make the world a blander, safer place. Mission accomplished”

              • March 25th 2015 @ 1:25pm
                pjm said | March 25th 2015 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                We get it Stu, you’re a facetious git. Now let the grown ups converse.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 4:34pm
                Rugby stu said | March 25th 2015 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

                Oh no you have offended me sir but that’s ok I respect your right to do so perhaps you should do the same. But feel free to get in your little close-minded, thought prison with your five brain cells and police everyone else’s behaviour that offends you.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 6:13pm
                RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

                I believe pjm just made your point for you.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 8:19pm
                pjm said | March 25th 2015 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

                It’s called society, if we all didn’t restrain there would be none.

        • March 25th 2015 @ 8:43pm
          Bigjohn said | March 25th 2015 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

          You raise an interesting point regarding words, yet you refer to your friend as ‘ straight ‘ . How about everyone sticks to words which are correct , homosexual and hetrosexual.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 25th 2015 @ 5:25am
      cashead said | March 25th 2015 @ 5:25am | ! Report

      Would there be questions about Pocock’s potential return to the Wallabies captaincy if he’d called out a player using racial slurs?

      • March 25th 2015 @ 12:28pm
        AliasAlias said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:28pm | ! Report


      • March 25th 2015 @ 6:52pm
        AndyS said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

        Possibly not, but the equivalent would be that he called out the player for using a phrase like “wetback” on the grounds that someone on the field might have Mexican heritage.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 26th 2015 @ 4:42am
          cashead said | March 26th 2015 @ 4:42am | ! Report

          Guess what? You shouldn’t be using that word either!

          • March 26th 2015 @ 6:21am
            AndyS said | March 26th 2015 @ 6:21am | ! Report

            Agreed, but it would be interesting to see if it stopped play and cost someone $20k.

    • March 25th 2015 @ 5:58am
      Bunyip said | March 25th 2015 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      I don,t understand why you appear to want to undermine Pocock. He is a man of values and of character and has had the courage to do the right thing. As his reputation increases, yours is diminished Spiro.

      • Roar Guru

        March 25th 2015 @ 6:47am
        eagleJack said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:47am | ! Report

        I don’t think Spiro is trying to undermine Pocock at all. It’s a fair and balanced article voicing the opinions of others from multiple sources.

        Homophobic language has no place in modern society. However I think we can all agree that the matter has been dealt with adequately and the story itself has reached it’s used by date. Let’s move on and talk about the rugby again!

        Some cracking games coming up this w/end!

        • March 25th 2015 @ 7:22am
          Bunyip said | March 25th 2015 @ 7:22am | ! Report

          “There is a certain selectivity involved in the Potgieter matter that concerns me.”

          What do you think this means? Some ulterior motive that is less than pure, I suspect.

          I am probably older than SZ, but I get it!

        • March 25th 2015 @ 7:30am
          soapit said | March 25th 2015 @ 7:30am | ! Report

          spiro has definitely softened his talk from yesterday but there is a tone of doubting pococks actions. there really shouldnt be any doubt.

          i think that it was a mistake that was reported, punished and accepted very appropriately and also dont feel theres anything more to really discuss. i tend to think spiro did want his only word on the matter to be what he wrote yesterday.

          still manages to find room to praise hooper while glossing over the fact one of the captains said “thats rugby” (not sure who)

        • March 25th 2015 @ 7:38am
          soapit said | March 25th 2015 @ 7:38am | ! Report

          actually apologies on that last point, on recheck i dont think he was praising hooper in fact

      • March 25th 2015 @ 9:14am
        wardad said | March 25th 2015 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Hear hear !
        I heard Marto on the radio [ supporting Pocock] saying how the ARU while presenting a united front supposedly supporting Pocock was being directed by the old guard to deny him the Wallabies Captaincy .
        Sounds about right .
        And we cant uphold rugby as an inclusive sport and champion of decent social mores without demonstrating a strong moral centre .
        Good on David Pocock ,great player excellent role model ,kind of bloke I would like as a son-in-law .

        • Roar Guru

          March 25th 2015 @ 9:35am
          eagleJack said | March 25th 2015 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          I don’t think anybody should give weight to anything Marto says… ever!

          Perhaps listen to Cheika’s response to Marto’s insinuation to get a true grasp of reality

        • March 25th 2015 @ 10:03am
          Markus said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          What old guard, exactly? Assuming he retains form and fitness, Pocock would now be one of the oldest players in the current Wallabies squad. Moore would probably be the oldest and is fully supportive of the stance.

          Another article this morning shows Cheika, the current Wallabies coach, supports Pocock’s stance too, so the only ‘old guard’ it could be would be Martin himself and maybe some of his mates, who have no further relevance to Australian rugby.

          • March 25th 2015 @ 10:13am
            jutsie said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:13am | ! Report

            I posted a similar comment in the article about marto. THe “old guard” in the wallabies team would all be under the age of 30 bar one or two and they would all have more progressive views than people like marto, spiro and other actual “old guard” types. I doubt any of the players would be offended by the stances pocock takes.

            The only issue would be that he has offended the conservative-dinosaur attitudes of the private school old boys that run the game, that is more an indictment of them than him though.

            I havent waded into this debate too much as I dont think it is a big issue, potgeiter messed up in the heat of the battle. We have all been guilty of that and pocock was within his rights to address this situation. that should have been the end of the story.
            Good on pocock for taking a stance and hopefully potgeiter has learnt from the experience.

            the rest of the debate is a load of white noise.

            • March 25th 2015 @ 11:04am
              Markus said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:04am | ! Report

              Seriously. Potgieter did something against ARU policy during a match, Pocock raised this with the official, Potgieter has since admitted it was a stupid thing to say, apologised and will avoid doing it in future.

              The people who seem to be making the biggest deal out of this are those who think their god-given right to insult women, gay people and other races during the course of their employment is under threat.

    • March 25th 2015 @ 6:44am
      MH01 said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      Spiro, are you aware of a referee called Nigel Owens ? Back in the day you could call a ref whatever you wanted, times have changed , have a Google how the North, which you always have a go at have handled homophobic slurs .

      So are you saying that pocock over reacted cause there were no gay players on the field? And what happens when the refs mic picks up one of these outbursts ? Do we assume the gay community does not watch rugby ?

      The game has been changed through technology , modern professional players can no longer approach the game like the good old days, the world is watching and listening now. As these players get paid big bucks and sponsors expect professional behaviour , rugby at this level is no longer the good old days.

      I’m sure you can still find some old school games in the lower leagues somewhere.

      Pocock’s reaction was spot on. Linking one article that suggests he did not hear it, is not journalist research, it’s cherry picking to make your point.

      I work for a huge media company, we have editorial guidelines , and I can tell you that it’s been drilled into me on what is acceptable and what is not, and boy have those guidelines changed. Somethings are no longer acceptable , even if you still work with mates from a previous generation. Embrace change.

      • March 25th 2015 @ 7:46am
        RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        Embrace change? Embrace thought control and minority group think. So now we are not allowed to say certain things on a sporting field because members of the gay community (which characterisation is in and of itself exclusionary) may hear it on the refs mike (which means the TV producer has decided to broadcast it). So what happens if these same members of the gay community are passing a school ground and hear a student call another student a “fag” or “gay”. These are terms used every day. Everywhere. They are not restricted to forty year old white men in private clubs.

        What I find most disturbing is that the comment was not made in the spirit of homophobia. The player to whom it was apparently directed was not gay yet the words themselves constitute a homophobic slur? So thanks to the protector of all things virtuous and politically correct, David Pocock, all players all over the world better watch what the say on the pitch. All derogatory words may be sexist, homophobic, racist or just plain nasty and therefore the subject of fines and bans particularly since they might reach the delicate ears of the viewers who have paid good money to watch their team try to beat the living hell out of another group of 15 grown men wearing shorts being paid to chase a ball around a grass paddock.

        My comments will probably get moderated. It’s just not fashionable to disagree with the PC brigade. Anyone who does is a monster, an anachronism, a mysogynist homophobic philistine pig. I’ve been roundly lambasted by the likes of MH01 for daring to have an opinion different to theirs. Fancy daring to have an opposing view on an opinion website. Just plain insulting! Moderator do your job and remove this alternate view that I find so insensitive, so 20th century. It must be done for the good of our secular pluralist society.

        If Pocock plays exceptional football and displays his2011 form then by all means make him wallaby captain. In the meantime the future greens leader might want to turn his attention, if he feels so strongly on the subject, to campaigning for gay rights in countries where homosexuality remains a criminal offence…..cue sound of tumbleweeds blowing down the street.

        Now I finish with a question, if a black guy walks up to another black guy on the field and call him a “black c**t” is that still racist? If a white guy walks up to a black guy on the field and call him a “lazy white bastard”, is he racist even if the player is not of that skin colouror is he just confused. If a black guy calls a white guy a “lazy white bugger” is he racist or do you have to be a member of a minority to be oppressed. Please someone explain how the system works.

        • March 25th 2015 @ 9:20am
          wardad said | March 25th 2015 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          “Lazy white bugger ‘ would imply a pale gay person with an indifferent attitde to work ……hope I cleared that up for ya !

        • March 25th 2015 @ 9:22am
          Rugby stu said | March 25th 2015 @ 9:22am | ! Report

          but, but, but RT think of the children, won’t somebody pleeease think of the children!

          • March 25th 2015 @ 10:05am
            RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:05am | ! Report

            Damn, I love a good Simpsons reference early in the morning!

          • March 25th 2015 @ 10:12am
            wardad said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:12am | ! Report

            Re-Neducation will sort it all out .

        • March 25th 2015 @ 10:02am
          grapeseed said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:02am | ! Report

          RT, I have a lot of empathy with your rant, and think the mealy-mouthed political correctness thing is full of overreach and disingenuous sanctimony and hypocrisy – often driven by ulterior motives and political point scoring.

          I also think that the word “fa..ot” and it’s derivatives have evolved to take on a different meaning (for many), now no longer including a direct imputation of someone’s sexual orientation or identity. Instead it simply retains some of the other pejorative associations like lack of strength and masculinity.

          I think that no one in this matter should be vilified – not Potgeiter, not Pocock, not the Waratahs. I think the term “homophobic” is a misnomer, the term people are looking for should be suffixed with an “ist” not a “phobe”. I think that, on the face of it, the fine is manifestly excessive.

          But I also think that there are a handful of words, just a few, which have such historical baggage and have been used so insidiously (not amongst my friends or your friends, no doubt) as to make them categorically unacceptable. Words associated with generations of abuse, deaths, suicides, whatever. This word is one of them, and the “It get’s better” campaign is about addressing this first world problem. Potgeiter gets it now (most likely) as do thousands of others because of the way this issue has been ventilated for public debate. This is not thought control, it is normal cultural evolution.

          • March 25th 2015 @ 10:17am
            RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            Grapeseed, I think your response is both intelligent and measured. I take your point and note the thematic behind it.

            What bothers me is that I agree Pocock is a man of principals. He is one of many. I believe I to am a man who stands up for what he believes in. Unfortunately the PC brigade takes the view that if I don’t agree with them, or in fact do agree with their sentiment but not their manner of dealing with a problem, then I am a villainous rogue and my opinion ought to be ridiculed as anachronistic.

            It is typical of the closed minded to espouse certain values and then criticise others in a personal manner when they disagree. Orwellian in the extreme.

            • March 25th 2015 @ 10:27am
              jutsie said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:27am | ! Report

              If you just stated that you dont agree that those words are offensive then fair enough, like grapeseed I too am not sure about it but at the same time I am not a gay man so I really am not in a position to decide whether it is or isnt an offensive term.

              However you havent just stopped there, you have continously mocked and ridiculed pocock over the last few days and questioned the authenticity of his actions. It seems like you are also behaving in a similar manner to which you describe in your last sentence.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 10:38am
                RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:38am | ! Report

                I may have mocked him but I have not questioned his authenticity. For the record I believe his concerns were genuine but well I don’t need to repeat ad nauseum my position, you get the picture.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 11:24am
                jutsie said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                maybe you werent one of the many accusing pockock of only doing this to push his causes and not because he and his teammates found the comments genuinely offensive however the point still remains that even the comment above you were mocking him for daring to voice an opinion that differs from yours.
                you may dress it up as a sarcastic throwaway comment but to me it looks very much like you are criticising someone in a personal and arrogant manner purely because they have opinions and stances that dont fit with your conservative ideologies.

            • Roar Guru

              March 25th 2015 @ 10:42am
              PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:42am | ! Report

              RT – Totally agree.

              The PC brigade who espouse openness, diversity , inclusiveness and so on are very hypocritical to those who are not in exact lock step as them.

              • March 25th 2015 @ 11:03am
                grapeseed said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:03am | ! Report

                I usually try to avoid the conceit of quoting myself, but I posted this explanation of how this issue was going to be corrupted by a rush to binary opposition the other day, nor ideological position taking whether progressive, libertarian, conservative or radical.

                “This is a complex issue that cannot be devolved to the hemispheres of binary opposition, nor can it be justly ventilated through exaggerated vilifications of Pocock, the yet unnamed perpetrator, or each other. In a complex matter such as this, it is possible for all of the following superficially contradictory elements to coexist:

                1. The word f…t has evolved (for many) to now not include a connotation of sexual preference/identity, while retaining many of the other pejorative elements such as weakness, or a lack of masculinity and strength. A good example is when Stephanie Rice tweeted after the Wallabies beat SA in 2010, “Sucked in f…ts!” She was not asserting that the Springboks were literally homosexuals, rather the other pejorative elements of the term.

                2. Irrespective of the context, the word still has a powerful ability to wound those who have been on the receiving end of this insult at its most vehement. This was Pocock’s concern when he said to the ref “you heard that sir…you can’t say that, there could be gay players out there”. He knows that for people who have been taunted relentlessly with this word, it is a powerful (even if unintended) weapon.

                3. There is a great tide of faux outrage filling our media of late, where ideologically opposing groups contrive offence and assume moral indignation while really just trying to score political points. Think of how “outraged” the Irish would really have been over the PM saying he was going to drink three Guinness in their honour on St Paddy’s day.

                4. There are also real moments of moral courage where people stand up for other people, or for a principle, which is undermined by the disingenuous purveyors of outrage described above.

                In my opinion, there is so much baggage attached to this word as it is used relentlessly to this day to taunt and bully young people, sometimes to the point of suicide, that it should only really be employed in private settings where there is a common appreciation of context. So not on a football field in front of 25 000 people, not on TV, and not in front of an empathetic gay rights activist playing for the other team. So to speak.”


              • March 26th 2015 @ 2:30am
                Carlos the Argie in the USA said | March 26th 2015 @ 2:30am | ! Report

                When I referee, I also object to be called “you mother f%%$er!”. My mom has objected to that term. So I give them a yellow or red card. Next time, I will also fine them.

            • Roar Guru

              March 25th 2015 @ 11:20pm
              Handles said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:20pm | ! Report

              Actually RT, I don’t think Pocock has ever been a headmaster. He is a man of principles though.

              (See, we can all be pedantic if we try hard enough…)

          • March 25th 2015 @ 7:07pm
            AndyS said | March 25th 2015 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

            Good stuff Grapeseed, a couple of the best balanced posts made on the subject.

        • March 25th 2015 @ 11:13am
          Nigel Imrie said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:13am | ! Report

          Thanks mate for some sanity, there is context for everything. Are we not allowed a different point of view or is it all conform or be unpopular or old school or draconian or out of touch or …..

          • Roar Guru

            March 25th 2015 @ 11:35am
            PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:35am | ! Report

            of course not, You must be the point of ridicule and hate speech but that’s ok

        • Roar Pro

          March 25th 2015 @ 11:46am
          Gavin Barker said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:46am | ! Report

          RT it is completely irrelevant whether or not the player he said it to is gay. That word refers to gay men and is intended as an insult – the very nature of the word insinuates that being gay is bad. That is why it’s considered a homophobic slur, regardless of whether it was said “in the spirit of homophobia.”

          • March 25th 2015 @ 12:31pm
            Rugby stu said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

            It might shock the captains of the PC brigade that not all game men are these hypersensitive, dandelions who fall to bits over the f word. In fact there are plenty of politically incorrect gay men who if you were to bag them out and use “slurs,” it would havbe no effect and they would tear you a new one give it back with interest because they are strong individuals who are confident in who they are. My best mate is gay and is merciless and loves banter and can’t stand the political correct sjws who claim to talk for him. This doesn’t excuse real homophobia I’ve seen it when I went to a religious school and it is genuinely despicable.

        • March 25th 2015 @ 12:45pm
          PiratesRugby said | March 25th 2015 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

          RT, you’re not a monster or a pig. You’re just a bigot. I’m not trying to insult you. I am just telling you that is how you are portraying yourself. I don’t know if you’re a coward or not. I don’t know whether you would dare repeat the things you are saying on the rugby field or to a gay person’s face. This site affords us that anonymity. We can say things without really being held to account for them. You often express fairly outrageous opinions. You can do that without any consequences for you. But you’re just being a bigot and that has never been something that other people hold in much regard. Its not thought control or groupthink to act decently. Hopefully, every member of society wants to act decently. Even you.

          • March 25th 2015 @ 6:36pm
            RT said | March 25th 2015 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

            Wow what’s the view like from that high horse you’re on.

            I don’t think my opinions are outrageous but if they affect you perhaps you shouldn’t read them. I will say this though, my opinions are shared by a great many people from varied walks of life.

            Given that you don’t know if I’m a coward why do you infer it. Did I miss something? Did I miss the vote to make you the arbiter of all things ?

            Do you see the great irony of a person writing under the anonymous name “Pirates Rugby” castigating me and casting generalised unfounded allegations (clearly based on your observation bias) apparently because I write under the veil of anonymity (as do 99% of the other posters on this site).

            You should get to the room of mirrors my friend. I do not resort to ad hominem non sequiturs because I can’t answer a valid cogent argument.

            Yesterday I was told I “probably approve of domestic violence”. You have stated unequivocally that I am a bigot and inferred I am coward. I have, as you may be aware, a better than passing knowledge of the law. There is no doubt that defamatory inferences have been made by you and others. Let me assure you I am a very litigious person. Notwithstanding that I enjoy the banter on this site and given I write on this site anonymously I don’t need to protect my reputation. Nonetheless I do hope you are more circumspect in your language in your day to day dealings with people who are actually aware of your identity.

            • March 25th 2015 @ 11:09pm
              PiratesRugby said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:09pm | ! Report

              I’m no expert but I don’t think I can defame an anonymous person.
              You’re inferring that you’re a coward. I think you mean I was was implying it, which I was not. I explicitly said that we are all afforded the same anonymity. I urged you to consider whether you might say the same things to a person’s face. Would it not be cowardly?
              I just want you to consider whether you are behaving decently and whether behaving decently is something all of us should do. I assumed that you would.

              • March 26th 2015 @ 8:01am
                RT said | March 26th 2015 @ 8:01am | ! Report

                You know what, I can’t be bothered to teach you the law but I will agree you are no expert. I don’t write anything here that I wouldn’t or indeed haven’t said in public. Have a nice day.

      • March 25th 2015 @ 10:49am
        BargeArse said | March 25th 2015 @ 10:49am | ! Report


        Slippery slope and all that.

      • March 25th 2015 @ 11:03am
        Carlos the Argie in the USA said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Didn’t Nigel Owens say in a game after a crooked line out throw “I am straighter than that throw”? Is that politically correct nowadays?

        • Roar Guru

          March 25th 2015 @ 11:07am
          PeterK said | March 25th 2015 @ 11:07am | ! Report

          MH01 – it has NEVER been ok to verbally abuse the ref, never back in the day that is how rugby was different to other sports.