The French Pro Division 2 club is home to Canadian rugby international Evan Olmstead.

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French second division rugby club Biarritz, where Canadian forward Evan Olmstead plays, have signed Grindr as a sponsor for next season. Photo by Courtesy of Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque Rugby Club

Like most European sports teams, rugby squads have long been willing to plaster their uniforms with all manner of advertising and sponsorship.

The famed Biarritz Olympique club in southwest France has taken a new step forward, signing a deal with Grindr, the dating app that bills itself as “the largest app for gay, queer and trans people.” They claim to have 13 million users spread across 200 countries.

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In recent months, the Biarritz club, which is near the top of France’s second division and battling to win promotion back to the Top 14, one of the most lucrative leagues in the world, as well as the French professional leagues, have been promoting an anti-homophobia campaign and signing on with Grindr is part of this campaign.

“Grindr is excited to partner with JB Aldige and the Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque Rugby Club. The club has been outspoken against homophobia and has committed to Grindr to continue its work to increase inclusivity and acceptance in the league and rugby overall,” Grindr said in a statement released by the team.

“Grindr for Equality is an ever-evolving mission to help LGBTQ people around the globe. Our wide-ranging initiatives impact communities large and small on issues that matter to them the most: safety, sexual health, advocacy, and more.”

One of Biarritz’s players is Canadian forward Evan Olmstead, who hails originally from North Vancouver.

“It’s different for a rugby club, but it’s exciting,” the 30-year-old messaged Postmedia from France.

He’s proud of his club for walking and not just talking about inclusivity and pushing back against discrimination.

“It’s exciting for the club to actually back up the talk of being inclusive. If Grindr wants to be the major sponsor and outbids everyone else, it’s good they didn’t get scared and be like, ‘Awww, naahhh, too controversial or something like that.’”

Earlier in May, Biarritz shared a message on its social media channels on behalf of France’s National Rugby League for an end to LGBTQ+ discrimination.

“Today and every day, the LNR is calling for the end of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, a cause we hold close to our heart. We will continue to carry the universal values of rugby, which are equality, respect and solidarity.”

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