Ally Langdon has slammed the decision of seven Manly players to boycott a charity match over rainbow jerseys, calling their move “disappointing”.
The Today Show host was joined by Gus Worland: the founder of the Gotcha4Life charity who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from the match between the Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
However, when the seven members of the Manly team refused to wear the club’s rainbow pride jersey as a one-off uniform for the match, they boycotted the jerseys and walked.
Ally said on Friday morning, “You have to respect them for taking the stand that they did, that is their belief.”
“But when they then turn around and say we’re going to take part next year – I was filthy.”
“I’m a Manly supporter, right, but I was filthy that they didn’t run out last night and they didn’t put the team first.”
Despite the controversy over the jerseys, Worland said it was an emotional night, particularly for Manly player Ian Roberts – rugby league’s first openly gay player – who wept uncontrollably when his former club took to the field wearing the rainbow jersey.
“I sat there with Ian Roberts, we cuddled and cried, and I said ‘We can do good with that money.’ That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
“Ian Roberts is such a star and I love him and he was crying uncontrollably at some stages last night. This is such a big move. The conversation has been started.”
Worland, the founder of suicide prevention non-profit organisation Gotcha4Life, said the match raised significant funds that will go back into the community to help those that are battling with mental health issues.
The Manly Sea Eagles ultimately lost the game to the Sydney Roosters, which Balmain Tigers legend Ben Elias told Langdon was a direct result of the player’s boycott.
“It really has put the Manly side … if you look at it from a professional point of view and what Manly are all about, they needed to win last night,” he said.
“The ripple effect of what those seven players did last night will be a long-term effect for the club itself. I just think you will see a lot of weaknesses in the club.”
Ally replied, “That’s what my fear here is, everyone is painting a picture of it, that it’s fine and we respect everyone’s opinion.”
“But when you run out onto that field every week together and you slog it out and it is a team sport and you work so hard, when that game was so critical, that’s the part that I found disappointing.”
“However, it has started an incredibly important conversation.”
Ben Elias agreed, saying the match helped bring people together to support a unified cause.
“We’ve seen now the politicians talking about pride and equality and it’s fantastic, love is love,” he said.
Image credits: Today / Instagram
This article first appeared on OverSixty.