"Rock B/Fire," a rugby team with players from FDNY, refused to play against the all-gay Gotham Knights at the Rockaway Sevens tournament in mid-June, citing fears of contracting HIV.
The Metropolitan NY Rugby Union responded saying that the "Rock B/Fire" team was a team organized on the fly and did not represent any team or organization, though many Rockaway RFC alumni were on the team.
In a statement, union president Edward J. Hughes, Jr., said, "It appears that the few players who chose to forfeit acted out of personal fears grounded in misconceptions as to the nature of HIV itself and the means and manner by which it might be transmitted. It does not appear that there was any malice in the actions of these players. It appears that the above referenced incident was the result of the unfounded fears of a very small minority of the forfeiting group's members."
Additionally, Hughes reiterated the safety precautions followed by the union to prevent the transmission of blood-born pathogens.
"For over a decade, it has been IRB law, USA Rugby policy and rule of this union, that any player who is bleeding or who has an open wound must be removed from the field of play and not return until the wound is dealt with and the bleeding stopped," he wrote.
The union reaffirmed its commitment to diversity in the statement as well.
"It should be made clear that the Metropolitan New York Rugby Union does not sanction or condone discrimination based on race, color, religion, age, gender, national origin, disability, or sexual preference," Hughes wrote. "Such ignorance and/or intolerance would be considered conduct unbecoming a rugby club and may be subject to sanction under our disciplinary guidelines."