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20th Jun 2022

“Role model” – Leo Varadkar hails Leinster’s Nick McCarthy for coming out

Dave Hanratty

“This is an important moment for men’s sport.”

Leinster Rugby scrum-half Nick McCarthy has been hailed as a “role model” by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar after publicly announcing that he is gay.

McCarthy made the announcement through his club on Monday afternoon (20 June), having previously told his teammates back in January.

“I was obviously pretty nervous about doing so, but I’m really happy that I did it,” McCarthy said in an interview published on Leinster’s website. “I struggled with coming out for a while and it was starting to impact on me and my happiness so it was the right decision.”

McCarthy noted that wrestling with the decision became so intense at one point that he contemplated quitting rugby altogether. After speaking to coaches Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster in November of 2021, McCarthy described the subsequent support he received as “unbelievable”.

Elaborating on any barriers he felt about coming out, McCarthy explained:

“I suppose because it’s not really ‘a thing’. It’s not common for a male athlete to come out in sport, never mind professional rugby, and it’s probably something that I didn’t want to believe or accept myself either. I needed to accept being gay myself before I could address it with others.

“I have great friends in rugby but I didn’t know how they would take it. My experience, since coming out though has been entirely positive. I have realised that anyone who cares about you, just wants you to be happy.”

McCarthy was quickly hailed for his announcement across social media on Monday. Tánaiste Varadkar, meanwhile, underlining the potential impact that McCarthy’s decision could have.

“This is an important moment for men’s sport,” said Varadkar. “Nick will be a role model for young men around Ireland who feel they have to suppress who they are.”

In his interview, McCarthy said he has been notably happier in recent months and is optimistic for the future.

“I’d love people to see, from my experience, that coming out has been really positive, and the biggest hurdle may be in your own head,” he said.

“Surround yourself with good people, because anyone that cares for you, wants the best for you. Your sexuality is just a part of who you are, and life is so much better when you can be yourself.”

Imagery via Sam Boal / and Harry Murphy / Sportsfile