Gay rugby player upset over backlash

Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014
Jay Claydon
TARGETED: Coming out wasn't easy for Jay Claydon.

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The former North Canterbury rugby player who claimed his club kicked him out because he was gay is "really upset" about the backlash he has received, his mother says.

Jay Claydon, who is now based in Sydney, went public with the claim in Fairfax Australia news outlets this week.

The Kaiapoi and Belfast rugby clubs - that he played for in Canterbury at senior level in 2006 and 2007 - both insisted he was not asked to leave because of his sexuality.

Claydon, known as Jeremy in North Canterbury, could not be contacted yesterday but his mother Carole Morgan, of Kaiapoi, said the family just wanted to move on.

She did not wish to speak about why her son was dismissed from the club.

"It's honestly not a big issue and it's been blown out of proportion," she said.

"It happened eight years ago . . . and it's done and dusted and we just want to move on now."

Claydon's former team-mate, who did not wish to be named, said the reason he was asked to leave the club had nothing to do with his sexuality.

"He was a good kid and I had a lot of time for him . . . he moved to Australia to get away from it all."

The man did not want people to think that Canterbury rugby clubs had a homophobic attitude.

"Because it's not like that at all," he said.

Jill Stark, the Australian writer who interviewed Claydon about homophobia in sport, said he did not name the club when he spoke to her because he did not want to single out one club for a "culture that reflects a wider societal problem".

"I think Jay is an incredibly brave young man who shared his experience in the hope that he might raise awareness of homophobia and give strength to other gay athletes who face similar discrimination.

"I have absolutely no doubt that his story is genuine."

Claydon told Stark that inside the rugby club he had not felt safe coming out. "At training one night, people were looking at me funny. Somehow they'd found out.

"On the Friday night, I got a call from my coach saying the players had taken a vote at a meeting behind my back and they weren't comfortable having me in the team any more."

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