Whatever else Brad Weber achieves in his career he can rest assured he's already destined to retire a hero.

Weber, the one cap All Black halfback, has been brave enough to break rugby's infamous code of omerta.

Any whiff of scandal and rugby players give the impression that not even the Gestapo or Spanish Inquisition would get much out of them.

Read more: Brad Weber - Israel Folau's views disgust me

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The time-honoured rugby way is to tolerate intolerance in belligerent, willful silence.
Players, no matter what they really think about the conduct of one of their peers, have been wed to this belief they must not judge.

They must not speak out and instead, do their level best to display the most stunning indifference as if such things are happening in a galaxy far, far away.

Deep thinking, articulate young men suddenly play the dumb jock card. We hear how they are, "just here to play rugby, mate" and it so often brings to mind Edmund Burke's truth that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Weber has broken convention by refusing to do nothing. He has a number of gay family members and he's decided that he's not okay with the homophobic views expressed by Israel Folau.

And so, in time, maybe Weber will be the man who is credited with making professional rugby a little less reminiscent of the Mob.

The dumb jock card may now be consigned to history, no longer valid or appropriate for players to use.

They are professional athletes some of the time, but human all of the time and because of that, players have the same responsibility as everyone else to speak out against wrongdoing.

They may now have to accept they are functioning members of wider society and not in a secret club, subject to different social norms where they can pretend that they walk among us but not be one of us.

Weber's three tweets that expressed disgust with Folau could drive a new culture where there is peer admonishment and a stronger desire among teams to not stay silent in matters that damage the sport's efforts to be inclusive.

Wallaby superstar Israel Folau's homophobic comments have caused outrage. Photo / Photosport
Wallaby superstar Israel Folau's homophobic comments have caused outrage. Photo / Photosport

Some people may of course not feel so inclined to celebrate Weber and his decision to speak out and instead question why he's doing it now when two years ago, when the Chiefs' infamous Strippergate incident came to light, he and his peers maintained the
most deafening radio silence.

Weber's Chiefs teammate Michael Allardice made homophobic comments about a member of the public as part of that fateful end of season celebration and not one player in New Zealand broke rank.

Silence only heightened the growing sense that rugby in this country had a major problem around respect and responsibility.

But it shouldn't be seen as either ironic or frustrating that Weber has found his voice now.

The fact that the only player in New Zealand to so far be publicly critical of Folau is
contracted to the Chiefs is a sign that maybe, just maybe, something was learned two years ago when they were torn apart for the way they behaved at the end of season shindig.

It would seem that Weber has indeed 'taken the learnings' from Strippergate and 'moved forward' by providing the most compelling reason yet to believe that in some quarters at least, there has been genuine and meaningful change.

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