Founded on 20 August 2015, Africa's first gay rugby team began their journey with simple ideals of creating a safe and harassment-free environment for everyone to enjoy the game of rugby. This lead to the Jozi Cats building a competitive, social and diverse club which welcomes players with all levels of experience.

According to the rugby club's chairman, Chris Verrijdt, their approach is simple: anyone who shares and commits to their values is welcome to join the Jozi Cats Rugby Club. "We are one of the few clubs that cater for adult beginners or previously experienced players looking for some social or competitive touch or contact rugby," Chris tells us.

In February 2016, the club reached out to recruit new members and increase its visibility as a safe and welcoming environment for the LGBTQI* community. Havas PR, of which Chris is the head, devised a bold campaign to tackle homophobia in rugby and turn gay stereotypes inside out. It challenged the public by asking, “What does a gay rugby player look like?” and used the typical gay slurs one would hear on the sports field.

The Rugby, That’s so Gay global campaign launched on 4 May 2016 and went viral. It was viewed by over 350 million people in over 146 countries.

After this bold campaign, the rugby club was inundated with applications and the team grew from a handful of players to enough sign-ups to supply an entire tournament with manpower. Africa’s first gay rugby tour commenced in December 2016 and the Jozi Cats set their sights on shifting the conservative narrative of rugby in South Africa.

Over the last three years, Jozi Cats has constantly and consistently disrupted the local and global narrative on the sports field. They have won both on and off the field since inception and boast an impressive list of accomplishments:

But what does the future hold for the Jozi Cats? "We want to start playing more frequently as Jozi Cats in a league," says Chris. "Then we want to host our first international inclusive tournament at the end of next year with other clubs from the Southern Hemisphere, as well as keep on recruiting new members to grow the club." Needless to say, it's worth keeping an eye on this rugby club as they break barriers, smash stereotypes and grow the great sport of rugby.

 

The announcement was made at an event on Friday where club members and value partners were presented with certificates of acknowledgement for the advocacy work they had done in the country, normalising the conversation around being LGBTQQIAAP+ and playing sport. “Play Your Part aims to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to to adopt a positive attitude and actively be involved in shaping this country,” says Sithembile Ntombela – Brand South Africa’s General Manager: Marketing.

 

“Jozi Cats are one such example by inspiring and encouraging active citizenship through its contribution to creating diverse and inclusive spaces in sport,” she said. Speaking of the acknowledgement, Jozi Cats Chairman, Chris Verrijdt said it was a momentous milestone for the club that had just celebrated its third birthday. “Being recognised by Brand South Africa in this way for the work we are doing across our communities is an incredible and humbling experience,” he said.

“At its heart, Jozi Cats is about connecting communities who share our values. If we can contribute actively and positively across our communities, we can be the inspiration and example we didn’t necessarily have growing up.” Fellow Play Your Part Ambassador, comedian and entrepreneur, Donovan Goliath was also in attendance and spoke to the club about telling its stories authentically to inspire its communities. “A nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone, says Ntombela. “We look forward to working with Jozi Cats in increasing active citizenship, pride and patriotism and congratulate them on this achievement.”

 

The announcement was made at an event on Friday where club members and value partners were presented with certificates of acknowledgement for the advocacy work they had done in the country, normalising the conversation around being LGBTQQIAAP+ and playing sport. “Play Your Part aims to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to to adopt a positive attitude and actively be involved in shaping this country,” says Sithembile Ntombela – Brand South Africa’s General Manager: Marketing.

 

“Jozi Cats are one such example by inspiring and encouraging active citizenship through its contribution to creating diverse and inclusive spaces in sport,” she said. Speaking of the acknowledgement, Jozi Cats Chairman, Chris Verrijdt said it was a momentous milestone for the club that had just celebrated its third birthday. “Being recognised by Brand South Africa in this way for the work we are doing across our communities is an incredible and humbling experience,” he said.

“At its heart, Jozi Cats is about connecting communities who share our values. If we can contribute actively and positively across our communities, we can be the inspiration and example we didn’t necessarily have growing up.” Fellow Play Your Part Ambassador, comedian and entrepreneur, Donovan Goliath was also in attendance and spoke to the club about telling its stories authentically to inspire its communities. “A nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone, says Ntombela. “We look forward to working with Jozi Cats in increasing active citizenship, pride and patriotism and congratulate them on this achievement.”