Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Dagg apologetic after being tackled over his 'fag' tweet

Israel Dagg during the All Blacks first test against France. Photo / Greg Bowker
Israel Dagg during the All Blacks first test against France. Photo / Greg Bowker

A woman who stood up against fellow rugby spectators using derogatory language says an All Black using the word "fag" reinforces the acceptance of casual homophobia in our sporting culture.

All Black Israel Dagg yesterday quickly withdrew a joke comment calling Auckland Blues player Brendon O'Connor a "fag" on Twitter. The comment caused a large amount of feedback, with Dagg eventually deleting the tweet , saying: "Wrong choice of word people don't let it ruin ya Sunday, keep smiling."

The tweet comes after a spectator at last Saturday's first test between the All Blacks and France was told homophobic language was "just part of the game".

Three men in the row behind Hannah Spyksma, 24, began yelling at players, calling them "homos and faggots". When she complained they told her it was "just part of the game".

Eden Park management later told the Herald they did not condone the men's behaviour, but it was not their job to be the "PC police".

Yesterday Ms Spyksma, a Rainbow Youth board member, said Dagg's comment was disappointing. "It reinforces the accepted use of casual homophobia within New Zealand sporting culture. These seemingly light-hearted comments can have a big impact on young people."

All Blacks manager Darren Shand said while Dagg did not intend to cause offence, and had apologised for the use of the word, the team did not condone the use of any offensive language. "Twitter and other social media sites are a fantastic way for players to talk directly with their fans and friends but this serves as a reminder that they have to show thoughtfulness, respect and professionalism at all times when posting comments."

Aych McArdle, Rainbow Youth's WTFNZ campaign spokesperson, said the tweet was damaging, even if Dagg had not meant to be offensive.

The All Blacks were incredibly influential, she said.

- NZ Herald

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