Manly Men: SF's Fog Rugby Team

Photo Credit: Sean Gustilo
Here in the U.S., many Americans consider football to be the manliest of manly sports. But that's because they don't know rugby, the full-contact sport that is played without those wimpy helmets and pads. Concussions, broken bones, torn ligament—if you're not ready to rumble, consider another sport.

Rugby has become increasingly popular in the U.S. in recent years, and gay athletes in particular have embraced it, with gay teams springing up in many major urban areas.

One such team is the Fog, San Francisco's predominantly gay rugby team. sat down with Drew Guenzer, member of the Fog, to talk more about rugby the sport, getting involved, experiencing homophobia while playing straight teams ("If you call me 'faggot' I'll knock you down even harder"), and memories of fallen 9/11 hero Mark Bingham.

What is the history of the Fog?

The Fog was started in 2000, when a group of gay athletes came together and decided they would really like to find a space where they could be gay and athletes at the same time—and really integrate those two parts of their personalities. Right now we have about 120 members.

But why rugby?

Well, we knew how to play rugby. [Laughs] There's another reason and that is historically rugby is a very diverse sport—it's pretty open to everyone. Also, the fact is, ruby in the United States is kind of under the radar. We also had a larger mission, which was to develop a space where people who usually weren't involved in sports, for whatever reason, could feel safe and could feel welcome, to get involved with the team and find a place in athletics.