‘What could be offensive about talented dancers?’ Hollywood actor and NRL team owner Russell Crowe at centre of cheerleader controversy
- Rabbitohs co-owner Russel Crowe axed cheerleading at the club back in 2007
- A former Bulldogs cheerleader said she was ‘baffled’ by the actor’s comments
- Nine out of the 16 teams have either scrapped or ‘rebranded’ their cheerleaders
Australian actor Russell Crowe is at the centre of a cheerleading controversy after several clubs scrapped their squads to avoid offending their fans.
Crowe, 54, is the co-owner of South Sydney Rabbitohs and said cheerleaders made crowds ‘uncomfortable’ when his club scrapped them in 2007.
Eight other teams have either scrapped or ‘rebranded’ their cheerleading programs since, including the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm this year.
Former Bulldogs cheerleader captain Darcie McDonald, 26, called Crowe’s views ‘hilarious’ and said she was ‘baffled’ that people were offended by cheerleaders.
Last of the cheerleaders: Former-cheerleader Darcie McDonald, 26, said she is ‘baffled’ that people are offended by cheerleaders because they are ‘talented dancers’
Crowe was ‘excited’ to scrap cheerleaders and looked forward to replacing it with ‘multi-sex’ entertainment in 2007.
‘It makes women uncomfortable and it makes blokes who take their son to the football also uncomfortable,’ Crowe said to The Daily Telegraph.
‘We found it hard to work out a positive about it. There was a grey area to it.
‘But we are thankful for the time and effort the girls put in and some of them probably will be disappointed.’
Rabbitoh’s co-owner Russel Crowe said cheerleaders made people ‘uncomfortable’ when his club dropped them in 2007. He is pictured reacting to a referee decision in 2009
Ms McDonald said Crowe’s comments were laughable.
‘I find that absolutely hilarious because I grew up going to the footy,’ she said to Macquarie Sports Radio.
‘In my Year 6 yearbook, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote ‘a Bulldogs cheerleader’. Who gets to live their childhood dream?’
Ms McDonald (middle) was the captain of the Bulldogs cheerleaders during her five-year stint with the club. She said cheerleading ‘catapulted’ her to other opportunities
‘I am just baffled about how people are offended by cheerleaders. What could be offensive about talented dancers?’
Ms McDonald said cheerleading catapulted her to other opportunities and that scrapping cheer programs would deny opportunities to other dancers.
She is now a journalist at Big League Magazine after five years of cheerleading with the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Ms McDonald is now a journalist at Big League Magazine after five years of cheerleading with the Canterbury Bulldogs. She is currently dating Wentworth Magpies player Brad Keighran
The Brisbane Broncos cheerleaders are now called a ‘dance squad’ and changed to an active wear uniform to go for a more athletic look.
Melbourne Storm replaced their cheerleaders with a ‘hip hop street team’ this year.
A ‘community dance competition’ between local dance schools replaced the Canberra Raiders cheer squad in 2017.
Nine out of the 16 clubs in the NRL have either scrapped or re-branded their cheerleaders.
I’ve found myself a cheerleader! Cheer squads are slowly being phased out by NRL clubs in a bid to ‘desexualise’ the sport but some women are being left out of a job