To coincide with the start of LGBT history month (February), Manchester Canalsiders Amateur Rugby League Club have unveiled their plans to create the first ever teams specifically aimed at the LGBT community.

Club founders Stan Sandland, Martin Owens and Kenny Mahoney have outlined their ambitions to set up full-contact male and female teams, alongside a mixed touch rugby team, aimed at making their competitive debuts in 2014. Manchester Canalsiders ARLFC

The Canalsiders have a full calendar of plans in place for the 2013 season dedicated to developing skills and training programmes and building up a team of supporters through try-it sessions, training, fundraising and social outings to Rugby League matches such as Magic Weekend and the Rugby League World Cup in October and November.

“We all love the fast pace and excitement of the game and were inspired by the work the RFL and the clubs have done around LGBT inclusion to set up the first LGBT Rugby League club,” said Manchester Canalsiders Chairman Martin Owens.

A New South Wales State of Origin and Australian international representative forward Ian Roberts played club football with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, and North Queensland Cowboys. In 1995 Roberts became the first high-profile Australian sports person and first rugby footballer in the world to come out to the public as openly gay. Gareth Thomas was another high profile rugby player who recently talked about his difficulties coming out when playing rughby union and later rugby league rcfgx

RFL Equality and Diversity Manager Sarah Williams said: “The RFL is delighted to support the Manchester Canalsiders in providing a unique opportunity for LGBT people to get involved in our sport. We hope that the club will go from strength to strength and that their work contributes to the RFL commitment to ensure our game is truly inclusive and welcoming to all.”

Lou Englefield, from Pride Sports said: “Pride Sports is delighted to support the UK’s newest LGBT sports club, Manchester Canalsiders RLFC. It’s fantastic to see a growing diversity of sports offered within the LGBT community. I’m sure the club can expect a great welcome from the RFL and the Rugby League family, who have been championing the campaign against homophobia in sport for a couple of years now.”

If you would like to get involved with and support the Manchester Canalsiders follow us on Twitter @MCRCanalsiders Facebook or email at