It is so, so heartening to hear a rugby player speaking passionately about gay marriage 5 years ago

It is so, so heartening to hear a rugby player speaking passionately about gay marriage

In 2010, Australian rugby star David Pocock held a commitment ceremony with his partner Emma Palandri in front of family and friends, in Perth. He hopes to marry her one day but will not do so until everyone in Australia, no matter their sexual orientation, can do likewise.

It is a noble stand-point from Pocock, who captained the Wallabies to a 25-23 weekend win over France.

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The 28-year-old is in Ireland this week ahead of Saturday's Test with Joe Schmidt's men and he has nothing but praise for the team, and the country.

Pocock tells us he was 'incredibly impressed' with Ireland's win over the All Blacks in Chicago. Over the past two days, the Aussies have been poring over footage of Ireland's two frenetic games with New Zealand and their handsome win over Canada.

It has been seven years since Pocock played in Dublin, made an absolute nuisance of himself and claimed the man-of-the-match accolade in drawn encounter. In the interim, he has had two knee reconstructions, inspired his country to a World Cup final and won a mountain of turnover ball.

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He ticks all the typical rugby player boxes when asked about games, opponents or tactics - 'tough day', 'we respect them', 'we've got some ideas in mind' - but ask him about his charitable endeavours, human rights advocacy or his campaigning for same-sex marriage and he livens up.

"I thought the Irish [referendum on marriage equality] was really encouraging," he says. "It was so good to see." Pocock continues:

"Our politicians in Australia have really let us down on that issue. That [Irish] vote showed that, at a societal level, it is something most people have moved on from. It's an issue that just needs to be legislated so we can just move on and continue to make society more inclusive for everyone. In Australia, the politics is certainly hampering that despite the societal shift."

Pocock does not sound too encouraged about Australia following Ireland's 2015 lead.

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He says, "They have been talking about potentially having it but I'm not sure when exactly someone will present another bill into parliament.

"The ruling Conservative party don't allow their members to have a conscience vote, they have to tow the party line. We'll wait and see."

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That does not mean Pocock, his circle, and a large section of Australian society are going to give up the fight.

Indeed, the flanker's comments on the everyday changes we can all bring to bear a truly uplifting. He comments:

"As a citizen, all you can do is challenge homophobia in your life, in your family and in your work-place, and get the conversation going.

"I'm incredibly proud of how the Australian Rugby Union has led in this area - introducing an inclusion policy and really supporting the Bingham Cup and a whole bunch of other stuff. That's real leadership.

"In my opinion, sport is sometimes at its best when it is leading the way and helping society to be more inclusive, to break down the things people may think, that makes us different or keep us apart."

Noble words from a noble Australian and a damn fine rugby player.

Aaron Kernan joins Colm Parkinson on The GAA Hour to explain the work he's doing for the Club Players Association. Derry captain Chrissy McKaigue talks Slaughtneil and a Dublin club advertising for hurlers gets a sore touch. Subscribe here on iTunes.

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