Rainbow colors will be on display as the Houston SaberCats rugby team celebrates Pride Night while taking on the Toronto Arrows at Aveva Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m.
This will be the team’s second Pride Night observance. The SaberCats celebrated Pride in a game against the Austin Elite in May 2019, winning 36 to 15. The 2020 season was cancelled because of the pandemic.
“Everyone said 2019 was a lot of fun, and we are looking forward to building on it this year,” said Sloane Evans, the SaberCats’ director of corporate partnerships.
The team’s logo will feature a rainbow-striped saber-toothed cat this year, and Pride Night will be promoted on the team’s website. T-shirts featuring the rainbow-striped cat will also be on sale at the stadium for $30.
Evans said the Toronto Arrows were notified of the Pride celebration and invited to participate. “Traditionally, the away teams do not participate unless it is a league-wide initiative.” Local LGBTQ organizations will also be invited to participate in the observance.
Evans said that the SaberCats recognize that rugby is a popular sport among LGBTQ athletes, and the team appreciates the support of their LGBTQ fans. “Rugby is one of the most inclusive sports.” “We are happy to bring this to Houston, and we want to make sure [we are] a leading city in promoting Pride.”
There are currently no openly gay members on the SaberCats team, but team captain and Australia native Matt Trouville told Outsmart that many of his teammates wore the rainbow shoelaces during the 2019 Pride Night to support the LGBTQ community. “We were happy to celebrate it,” he noted.
In December 2020, Major League Rugby player Devin Ibanez, formerly of the New England Free Jacks, came out as gay in social-media posts by saying he had decided to “embrace what I once felt embarrassed of and be proudly and shamelessly myself.” Ibanez posted a photo of himself holding his boyfriend in his arms. Ibanez said he hoped to move to England (where his boyfriend lives) to play rugby there.
Only a handful of other professional rugby players have come out as gay.
In 2017, the Houston SaberCats (previously known as the Houston Strikers) joined with other teams in cities nationwide to form Major League Rugby. Soon after, Houston City Council agreed to construct the $3.2 million rugby stadium, which was completed in 2019.
Major League Rugby’s 2021 season began March 20, and will run through July, with a league championship game on the weekend of August 1. The SaberCats’ last home game occurs June 26. The team’s record so far is 2 wins and 5 losses.
For more information, visit houstonsabercats.com.