Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

ABs back fan over 'morons'

Ex-rugby stars say people shouldn't have to put up with anti-gay slurs at matches.

Dion Hosking says he is grateful for Hannah Spyksma's bravery in speaking up. Photo / Natalie Slade
Dion Hosking says he is grateful for Hannah Spyksma's bravery in speaking up. Photo / Natalie Slade

Two former All Blacks have condemned three fans who yelled homophobic slurs at Saturday night's test match, while a gay-friendly rugby team has thanked the woman who confronted them.

It comes as politicians urge the Rugby Union and the All Blacks to "start tackling homophobia" in rugby and other sports.

Former All Blacks flanker Josh Kronfeld denounced the behaviour of the three young men, who yelled "homos" and "faggots" at players during Saturday's test against France at Eden Park before turning their taunts towards spectator Hannah Spyksma, who had told them their language was unacceptable.

"It shouldn't be condoned and she shouldn't have to put up with it," Kronfeld said. "There's always at events some moron that spoils it for everyone else."

Kronfeld said ugly behaviour such as that endured by Ms Spyksma, who is lesbian, had not changed since his days as an All Black in the 1990s and it wasn't isolated to rugby.

Former All Black captain Graham Mourie said the behaviour was a "commentary on the people doing it".

"They've got no class really. That sort of stuff should be unacceptable."

Green Party Rainbow spokesman Kevin Hague wants the NZRU and the All Blacks to front campaigns to wipe out homophobia in rugby.

"Ex-captain of the Wallabies David Pocock is an active supporter of marriage equality in Australia, and [former international] Ben Cohen has done the same thing in English rugby.

"As community leaders, our top sportspeople should step up and speak out on the importance of inclusiveness."

NZRU spokesman Nick Brown said: "We do not condone or tolerate this sort of offensive behaviour. If anyone ever has concerns about the behaviour of other patrons at a test match, they should alert security."

Last week, the union launched the Applaud campaign to promote positive sideline behaviour.

Lesbian MP Louisa Wall, a member of the 1998 World-Cup winning Black Ferns women's rugby team, said a cultural change was needed to eradicate discrimination from sport and she had already met Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy about stamping out racism.

Society had changed and no longer tolerated offensive comments, said Ms Wall, the Labour MP for Manurewa.

Ms Spyksma's story yesterday attracted a huge following on Twitter and other social networking sites.

The 24-year-old said she had been "overwhelmed and humbled" with positive feedback.

Woman praised by gay friendly rugby team

A gay-friendly rugby team has commended the actions of Hannah Spyksma, who asked three All Blacks fans to stop using homophobic slurs during Saturday's test against France.

Dion Hosking, a member of the NZ Falcons gay and gay-friendly men's rugby team, said he was grateful for Ms Spyksma's bravery. "What we mean by grateful is that she actually had the courage to stand up and say something. A lot of people within our community do take it to heart and things like that affect people.

"We're looking at getting her along to something just to say thank you."

The team, which includes gay and straight members and many who have never played rugby before, was set up a few months ago.

Based at Western Springs, the group are aiming to raise $60,000 to compete in the 2014 Bingham Cup in Sydney, the equivalent of the Rugby World Cup for gay teams.

- NZ Herald

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