Lancashire is set to welcome a new gay-friendly rugby team, with demands for matches already in full swing before it has even put a squad together
The Lancashire Typhoons, established last month by rugby enthusiast Lawrence Howard, is the county’s first gay and inclusive rugby union club operating under the International Gay Rugby organisation.
The club, and all other gay and inclusive clubs, encourages equality and diversity through promoting physical exercise.
Lawrence said: “These clubs are environments that are safe for everyone to come and enjoy the sport.
“It’s also an institution to challenge the stigma surrounding the idea that gay people aren’t sporty.”
The Preston resident added: “We want as many people as possible to come along, both to compete but also to get involved in any way they can.”
Lawrence, who himself grew up playing rugby, believes it can help those who love the sport but are scared of a perceived stigma attached to playing.
He said: “I never experienced any abuse when playing myself, but I think there is a perception that people could experience homophobia.
“Whether it is real or not, people have a perception that it is.”
The club’s first training session is on Friday January 19 at the Preston Grasshoppers rugby club on Lightfoot Lane, Preston.
Lawrence said: “We’ve already had 27 people with varying degrees of interest contact us.”
The club has picked up significant interest from other gay and inclusive rugby clubs in the UK - of which there are 16.
The 43-year-old said: “We’ve already had offers from clubs for games but our first training session isn’t until January, so we’ve had to decline for now!”