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Cronulla Sharks forward Toby Rudolf uses ‘love is love’ tryout celebration in NRL final against Cowboys

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Cronulla forward reaffirms commitment to gay community with ‘love is love’ try to celebrate in dramatic final loss to Cowboys

  • The Cronulla Sharks were defeated 32-30 in their qualifying final on Saturday
  • Prop Toby Rudolf returned from knee injury and scored the Sharks’ first try
  • He celebrated by making a heart symbol with his hands to represent ‘love is love’
  • Rudolf has openly supported the LGBTQIA+ community this season

The Cronulla Sharks may have suffered a heartbreak in their 32-30 NRL qualifier final loss to the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday, but prop Toby Rudolf still has plenty of love left.

The Sharks attacker famously responded to the Manly Sea Eagles pride fiasco this season by admitting that he had kissed men, had a gay uncle who was a father figure and championed the LGBTQIA+ community.

Prior to his comments, Ian Roberts, a former hardman from Souths, Manly and North Queensland, was the only first-class rugby league player in history to admit to being LGBTQIA+.

Rudolf had missed the last month of the NRL regular season with an MCL injury to his knee, but returned at his best with 12 carries for 143 yards and a crushing 32 tackles.

The gag also opened the scoring for the Sharks, isolating smaller Cowboys fullback Scott Drinkwater in the defensive line and beating a tackle from Tongan captain Jason Taumalolo to attack across the line.

He celebrated big with his teammates before walking back to his place on the defensive line, forming his hands into a heart symbol that seemed to represent “love is love” for the camera that follows him.

Rudolf makes the heart shape to represent ‘love is love’ after scoring against the Cowboys

Rudolf in the Cronulla surf

Celebrating his attempt against the Cowboys

Rudolf in the Cronulla surf celebrating his try against the North Queensland Cowboys

It comes after his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in July, where he first shared the “love is love” message in response to the seven players withdrawing from the male side over the Pride jersey.

“I was raised by quite a few gay and lesbian community members. My uncle is gay and my godmother is gay, and there is so much love in that community.”

“Sexuality is very fluid. I’ve been out and kissed a lot of gay men, kissed a lot of straight women and kissed a lot of gay women,” he said.

‘I’m not a one-stop shop. Love is love and I like to share it with everyone.

“That’s probably why I like going to all the gay bars in Sydney – I like to dance with my shirt off and go to Universal on Oxford St until 2am.”

Rudolf has become an advocate for a groundbreaking Pride Round in the NRL. He also backed up his comments in an extensive interview with Fox Sports in August.

“I wanted to give my support to the community that has been there all my life,” he said.

Rudolf posted this image with the caption: 'Double the island, double the fun #friendship #takeabreathboys'

Rudolf posted this image with the caption: ‘Double the island, double the fun #friendship #takeabreathboys’

“And I’m not too busy talking about me either. I’m not afraid of anything, letting people know what I’m doing.

“Most importantly, the LGBTQI+ community has been kind of dragged through the mud that week and I just wanted to give them a push.”

Since his comments, Rudolf’s Instagram profile has received a handful of negative posts and a few homophobic comments, but many more posts of positivity.

‘You do yours and spread your sunshine! You make me love NRL more, you sexy Herculean free spirit,” one fan wrote.

‘Thank you for your courage and honesty and good vibes!!! Not an NRL fan but I’m a fan of yours maybe I’ll just become a Sharks fan now,” wrote another.

An image posted to Rudolf's Instagram where he notes that he misses his boys.  One of the responses reads: 'Thank you for your visibility and open support of free love for all.  Hero'.

An image posted to Rudolf’s Instagram where he notes that he misses his boys. One of the responses reads: ‘Thank you for your visibility and open support of free love for all. Hero’.

Rudolf told Fox Sports that the “99 percent” of the response to his comments was positive.

“You will always have some negative comments, but 99 percent of people were applauding me, my bravery and things I didn’t really think was that brave, I just thought it was me just talking about my stuff, ‘ he said.

“I went to Northie’s that night after we won that gold points contest and everyone there was just really nice, very supportive and said they loved what I said.

The Sharks will have a shot at NRL redemption this weekend when they face the South Sydney Rabbitohs in an elimination final at the Allianz stadium.

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