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Ealing Trailfinders player Sam Stanley becomes first Rugby Union pro to come out as gay

The England Sevens international and Ealing Trailfinders player is the first Rugby Union professional to discuss his sexuality

Sam Stanley is the first Rugby Union player to come out as gay(Image: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

England Sevens international and Ealing Trailfinders player Sam Stanley has become the first Rugby Union pro to come out as gay.

The 23-year-old player has represented England at five tournaments.

Stanley follows two professional Rugby players also opening up about their sexuality. Cross-code player Gareth Thomas was the first openly homosexual rugby star, coming out in 2009. Rugby league star Keegan Hirst last month became the first player of the sport to come out.

Stanley told the Sunday Times: "I was 10 or 11 when I realised I was different to my friends. I didn't want to accept it, I felt being different wasn't right. I had a girlfriend and I was thinking that, like some people say, maybe it is a phase.

"Millions of people are in the situation... They cannot accept it themselves.

"It is going to be an issue until more people and athletes come out, until it is not an issue at all. It might take years but hopefully lots of people will find the courage."

Stanley joined the Ealing Trailfinders in June in a bid to step up his rehabilitation from serious knee injuries.

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