Africa’s first gay and inclusive competitive rugby club has launched a bold new initiative to recruit more players.
The campaign, spearheaded and created by the Head of Havas PR South Africa, Chris Verrijdt, uses players from the rugby team in a series of shots with derogatory gay terms that question the perception of the kind of gay man the players are.
From the outset we wanted to be disruptive, but we also had to be sensitive. Some of the guys are still coming out to either friends, family or colleagues, so they were involved in every step of the process.
Chris Verrijdt | Head of Havas PR South Africa
Verrijdt continues, “We had to make sure everyone was comfortable with the final outcome and I need to applaud each and every one of them for their bravery as this campaign will definitley start a conversation.”
For Jozi Cats Chairman, Teveshan Kuni, the campaign was “right place; right time” as although the team had been around for a few months, recruiting new players had plateued.
“The truth of the matter is that many of our players don’t feel like they can be openly gay and be a rugby player in South Africa,” says Kuni. “So we started Jozi Cats as a space where they could be both. The club is somewhere that players can play social and competitive rugby in a safe and non-judgemental environment.”
Kuni goes on to say the club caters for all levels of rugby experience with teams for touch, tag and full contact rugby disciplines with practices held at Wanderers Sports Club on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings.
In terms of where the club is headed, Kuni has ambitious goals.“Our sights are set firmly on representing South Africa at a global gay rugby level,” he says. “Everyone sees the heart of rugby lying within two nations, New Zealand and South Africa and it’s a tragedy that we don’t have a team, despite gay club rugby being around for over 20 years. But in order to do that we need the skills, support, sponsorship and ultimately the players.”
When asked about the campaign, Kuni says it was very important to use actual players from the club. “Over-and-above everything else we wanted to show that these are just ordinary guys who love playing rugby and who happen to be gay.”