Police are taking to the pitch to tackle hate crime in sport.
Northumbria Police is supporting the Hadrian Cup Rugby 10s tournament being held at Percy Park Rugby Football club, North Shields, on Saturday from 11am to 3pm.
Rugby 10s is a variant of Rugby Union, with teams made up of 10 players playing in two 10-minute halves.
It is been hosted and organised by the Newcastle Ravens, an inclusive men’s Rugby Union team which meets every Tuesday at Percy Park.
The tournament is being used to get the message across about Northumbria Police’s hate crime campaign Being you is not a crime.
All teams taking part will be wearing Stonewall UK Rainbow Laces in a show of support for the force’s campaign and to show that hate crime has no place either on or off the field.
Newcastle Falcons team captain Will Welch and a number of officers and staff from the force will be in attendance, alongside dedicated LGBT liaison and community engagement officers.
Chief Inspector Steve Hails said: “We are delighted to be involved with this fantastic event.
“The tournament is all about inclusivity and because the teams taking part are inclusive, people can be free to be themselves as individuals and express themselves as they wish. Sport doesn’t discriminate and this ties in perfectly in with our hate crime campaign and the work we are doing across the whole force.
“Our campaign, Being you is not a crime, targeting you is, was launched in 2013 with aim of raising awareness around what hate crime is, the work that police and partners do to tackle it.”
“It’s been really well received by the public and we have had a lot of fantastic support for it.
“There is no place for hate crime on the rugby pitch, on any pitch, or anywhere and we are committed to tackling it. Our officers, staff and cadets are really looking forward to the day and would urge as many people as possible to come along and get involved.”
James McKane, Chair of The Newcastle Ravens, said: “It is great to be working with Northumbria Police on this year’s Hadrian Cup.
“Although the tournament is an inclusive event, the Club is very much LGBT inclusive.
“We all feel passionate about supporting this year’s campaigns: Being you is not a crime and No homophobia in sport.”
Robbie de Santos, head of campaigns at Stonewall, said: “There are still people who think it’s acceptable to discriminate against LGBT people in sport, something we have to work together to stop.
“Stonewall works with sports clubs at all levels to show that supporting diversity, in all its forms, is the easiest way to build a more supportive and high-performing team and a strong, loyal following.”
For more information visit www.HadrianCup.co.uk