Simon Borchardt

Five rugby players who came out the closet

With former Bath wing Levi Davis revealing he’s bisexual, looks at five other rugby players who helped pave the way.

Mark Bingham

The 102kg, 1.93m No 8 represented the gay-inclusive San Francisco Fog. On 11 September 2001, the 31-year-old American was among the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who prevented the hijackers from flying the plane into a building in Washington DC by storming the cockpit. Instead, the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing all 44 people on board. The Bingham Cup, a biennial international rugby tournament predominantly for gay and bisexual men, was established in 2002 in Mark's memory. The 10th edition will be held in Ottawa, Canada, in 2022.

Louisa Wall

Wall played 16 matches for New Zealand’s Black Ferns from 1995-2001 and was part of the team that won the 1998 Women’s World Cup. The 48-year-old is a New Zealand Member of Parliament and a strong advocate for human rights. In May 2012, Wall – who is openly lesbian – submitted a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in New Zealand. When it came into effect on 19 August 2013, she said it felt like winning a World Cup final.

Sam Stanley

In 2015, Stanley became the first English professional rugby player to come out as gay. The 23-year-old flyhalf/centre had just joined the Ealing Trailfinders, after stints with the England Sevens team and Saracens. In 2017, Stanley got engaged to his long-term boyfriend, Laurence Hicks.

Gareth Thomas

The Welshman is the highest profile rugby player to come out as gay, although he was playing rugby league for the Celtic Crusaders when he did so in December 2009. Thomas, a utility back, played 100 Tests for Wales and three for the British & Irish Lions, and captained both teams. He married Ian Baum in 2013 and his autobiography, Proud, won the British Sports Book of the Year award in 2015. In September last year, Thomas revealed he is HIV positive and is using his Tackle HIV campaign to help educate people about the virus.

Simon Miall

The former Harlequins lock came out as gay after he had retired and regrets not doing so during his career. Miall, a financier and investor, was transferred from London to New York, which is where he met his future husband, Chris Hessney, on a blind date. Three years later, in October 2018, they got married in Lake Como, Italy. In February this year, Miall flew from New York to London to support Harlequins’ LQBTQ+ pride game.