Rugby players have emotional reunion after putting their relationship ‘on hold’ to play on opposing sides
Australia’s National Rugby League has taken a firm line clapping back against homophobic fans, after two players shared an emotional kiss after a game.
Karina Brown, captain of Queensland Maroons, ended up on the opposing side from her partner Vanessa Foliaki, who plays for the New South Wales Blues, in a match this week.
The two women, who have been together since 2014, put their personal life aside for the State of Origin game, which the NSW side won 16-10.
However after the game they reconciled, sharing an emotional public kiss at the sidelines.
The powerful image of the two women kissing was shared on social media by the National Rugby League, which praised the two players.
Predictably, some people were upset.
One Facebook user wrote: “Keep that crap to the dressing shed or at home. We don’t care if you are partners, girlfriends, lovers etc good luck to you, do what ever you want, no discrimination or judgement here just keep it off the field… bad move NRL, there may be young girls coming through put off by this.”
The NRL did not take the criticism lying down, however.
It responded: “Hey Matt, welcome to 2018… can’t wait for you to join us.”
When another critic accused them of “sexualising” the women’s league by acknowledging the couple, NRL responded: “If we can post a photo of [men’s league star] Cooper Cronk and his wife Tara kissing, then we can share a photo of Karina Brown and Ness Foliaki sharing a moment too .”
Other furious fans complained about “more of this crap being rammed down our throats” and accuse the NRL of promoting “political agendas.”
But one fan hit back: “Do any of you whinge when the men kiss their wives at the fence after a game? No. I bet not.”
As well as being partners, Brown and Foiaki are used to being teammates on the Australia women’s national rugby league team, the Jillaroos, but have also competed against each other on several occasions.
The pair explained that they get so serious about sidelining their relationship when they are on opposing teams that Foliaki blocks her girlfriend’s number in the run-up to games.
Foliaki told the NRL: “Everyone that I’ve played with for New South Wales knows when I’m in camp, it’s just Origin – I’m not with Karina.
“I’m a Blues player and that’s straight down the line. I’m really focused on the job, it’s a big occasion.
“Karina is messaging me, and I’m like ‘she’s a Queenslander’, and I put my phone away. She’s a Queenslander and I want to beat her.”
Brown added: “We got serious [about the separation] in the past few years… she would block my number, that’s how serious it would get!
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“One time I said ‘I hope you had a good game tomorrow’… blocked! She never got it! It was a really nice message.”
The pair also spoke about how they often go “extra hard” against eachother in games because of their desire to win.
Brown told her girlfriend: “I want to beat you too, but I still love you!”
Foliaki added: “Everyone wants us to get married. Being a part of the Jillaroos and how open everyone was to our relationship helped a lot.
“I think it’s more accepted now and the Jillaroos make it feel like home. The coaching staff are supportive. We’re feeling all the love.”