First openly bi top-flight star signs new contract after departure rumours - Ruck

First openly bi top-flight star signs new contract after departure rumours

Exeter Chiefs lock Jack Dunne has signed a new contract, reaffirming his commitment to the club.

Join the RUCK’s WhatsApp community here and get the latest news sent straight to your messages.

The Irishman joined Devon’s team ahead of the 2022/23 season, coming from United Rugby Championship (URC) giants Leinster.

Dunne, who had been rumored to join Scarlets, made headlines in 2021 when he publicly came out as bisexual. Although he has been open about his sexuality since his teens, he spoke about it publicly for the first time in June 2021.

Speaking about his experience coming out, Dunne said: “I came out when I was still in school, I probably wasn’t thinking I was going to be a professional player so it didn’t really cross my mind and then when I went into the world of professional rugby.

“Everyone was just really supportive … definitely scary at times, wondering ‘oh what are they going to think’, but it’s been overwhelmingly positive.”

As a Chief, the towering lock has made 35 appearances in all competitions, with a noteworthy try this season against Irish province Munster in a hotly contested Investec Champions Cup match at Sandy Park.

“I’m excited to be continuing with this team for next season. We had some excellent performances this year and are working to bring more consistency into our game so we can hunt for silverware.

“A huge thank you to the Chiefs supporters who have made Sandy Park such a special place for me these last two years.”

Director of Rugby Rob Baxter spotted the lock for his work-rate and the strong lineout option he provided and brought him into the Chiefs squad which he has committed once more to.

“We’re pleased to have Jack staying at Sandy Park. We think he’s another guy that’s got a lot of potential. He’s scored some phenomenal tries for us and produced some incredible moments, so I think he’s aware as well as we are that he just needs that little bit of consistency.

“We’re going to have more confidence in our squad next season having had so many players get good experience this season. We’ll probably see the majority of our locks and back five forwards playing fairly regularly, so I see Jack being an important part of that and getting some good game time.

“We look forward to seeing an even better and improved Jack Dunne next season.”

Dunne is the latest in a list of first team players signing on to commit to the re-development of Baxter’s squad.

1. Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens is a well-known figure in the world of rugby, recognized by fans, players, and anyone with even a passing knowledge of the sport. Not only does he hold the record for refereeing the most test matches, but he has also established himself as one of the most respected rugby referees globally.

Beyond his officiating duties, this Welshman has ventured into television and has become a dedicated advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. In recognition of his contributions, he was honored with the title of “Gay Sports Personality of the Decade” at the Stonewall awards ceremony in London in 2015.

“It’s such a big taboo to be gay in my line of work, I had to think very hard about it because I didn’t want to jeopardise my career,” he confessed.

“Coming out was very difficult and I tried to live with who I really was for years. I knew I was ‘different’ from my late teens, but I was just living a lie.”

Refereeing in as sport like rugby also hindered his decision.

“When I became a referee, it became clear that there was nobody in the sport who was gay.

“The rugby world is very heterosexual and masculine, and this made things difficult.

“Although that’s not to say that the sport is openly homophobic. It was just never an environment where I felt like I could be myself.”


He wrote in his column: “There’s not too much I can say at the moment about the process itself, but we are both incredibly excited. It’s something that we’ve spoken about for a few years now and it’s taken a while to get here, but now that it’s happening we can’t wait, although I must admit it’s also a little nerve-wracking.

“As any parent will tell you, there’s no bigger commitment than raising a child, so that was obviously the main reason why I decided against the South Africa job in the end. I couldn’t, nor would I want to, go away for the next six months with this happening.”