Leinster’s Nick McCarthy yesterday confirmed that he came out to his teammates in January in a move that has been roundly applauded by the rugby community.
Having joined the Leinster senior set-up for the 2017-18 season following several successful seasons coming through the under-16 & 18 age grade set-ups.
In constant competition with players such as Luke McGrath and Jamison Gibson-Park, McCarthy headed south to join rivals Munster for two seasons before returning at the beginning of last season.
Speaking to Leinster Rugby, McCarthy said the emphatically supportive response from his teammates lifted a significant weight off his shoulders.
“I only made a quick announcement. But I just remember the room erupting. They were all delighted for me and it was immediately a weight off my shoulders,”
Whilst it was just a quick announcement for McCarthy, the decision to come out is a significant one for the sport as a whole and shows just far the game has come.
As McCarthy pointed out every player carries around with them stresses that effect their performances.
“I felt they understood my situation. It’s hard to perform at your best when you are carrying something, anything, and that’s the same for all the lads. For me it was my sexuality, for others it could be stuff at home, or studies or whatever.” he said
Speaking to Leinster Rugby, Ireland captain Johnny Sexton lent his support to his teammate.
“We talk about looking after our brothers a lot in here and the last few months has been about that, looking out for Nick. And that will continue. By speaking openly about his sexuality, Nick will be a role model for others, and we couldn’t be prouder of him.”
💙 | Scrum-half Nick McCarthy has spoken publicly for the first time about his sexuality.
He now hopes that sharing his experience will be encouraging and provide hope to others. 👏ADVERTISEMENT
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) June 20, 2022
McCarthy’s announcement comes on the heels of his teammate Jack Dunne who came out as bisexual last year.
“It’s not common for a male athlete to come out in sport, never mind professional rugby, and it’s probably something that I didn’t want to believe or accept myself either.
“It affected me so much that I agonised over my future and contemplated walking away from rugby altogether because I just didn’t think I could come out while playing rugby.
“I needed to accept being gay myself before I could address it with others. I have great friends in rugby but I didn’t know how they would take it.
“My experience, since coming out though has been entirely positive. I have realised that anyone who cares about you, just wants you to be happy.”
“Around this time last year, I started talking to my close friends, and they were very supportive. Those conversations continued as I became more comfortable and accepting of myself.
“In many other professions you may not feel the need to discuss your sexuality. But I felt I wasn’t being true to myself.”
Away from rugby a number of high-profile professional athletes have recently announced their sexuality. The NFL’s Carl Nassib announced that he was gay last year, and he was joined by Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo a few months later.
“Looking at Nassib or Cavallo coming out and Jack here in Leinster and how he spoke publicly last year about his bisexuality, has helped me a lot. I’ve had good conversations with each of them and they’ve been hugely encouraging,” McCarthy said.
“In turn, I feel if I can now help others come out in professional sport or in their everyday lives and make being gay more normal and not a thing to be worried about, then that is a positive.”