Sunday August 30th, 2015

Sam Stanley has become the first professional English rugby union player to come out as gay. 

Stanley, 23, broke the news in an interview with The Sunday Times published this weekend. His revelation comes two weeks after English rugby league player Keegan Hirst came out as gay

Stanley told the Times that he contemplated suicide as a teen because he feared his sexuality could jeopardize his rugby career. 

“I was standing on a bridge about four or five years ago, overlooking a motorway in Essex,” Stanley said. “However, looking back, the idea that I would jump was ridiculous but it was as if I was thinking that I could get rid of the pain in one go. You are so worried about what people will think and I thought I couldn’t be a macho rugby player the way I was, and there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life.”

Several of Stanley’s teammates and opponents offered their support on Twitter.

Stanley currently plays for Ealing Trailfinders in England’s second tier. He previously played for Saracens, in the English Premiership, and was a member of the team that won the 2010 championship. He has also played rugby sevens internationally for England. 

Prior to Stanley and Hirst, former Welsh international Gareth Thomas was the world’s only openly gay professional rugby player. Thomas came out in 2009, two years after Nigel Owens, one of the game’s top referees, came out. 

- Dan Gartland

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