Accidental trailblazer McDaid living their authentic life

Canada's Sab McDaid is believed to be the first non-binary player to compete at the Rugby League World Cup (Getty Images for RLWC 2021)
Canada's Sab McDaid is believed to be the first non-binary player to compete at the Rugby League World Cup (Getty Images for RLWC 2021)

By Milly McEvoy

Canada scrum-half Sab McDaid never set out to be the first or to break records, instead, they have quietly made history at the 2021 World Cup.

The Ravens’ record appearance holder is believed to be the first out non-binary player to compete at a Rugby League World Cup.

The 28-year-old came out at the beginning of the year and made a significant first public step to living completely as themselves.

“It's a really big privilege to be the first non-binary player at a Rugby League World Cup,” they said.

“However, I didn't come into playing rugby league to be the first of anything, I just fell in love with the game, and in love with my team. I just want to continue playing and having fun and learning as a player.

“I came out earlier this year, so it's a little new but it just felt like the right time to tell the world.

“I wasn't really scared anymore to be myself and I was ok with whatever happened by telling people.

“I want to live as my authentic self and just be the best person I can be.”

McDaid, who helped Canada to the 2017 semi-finals, is on a voyage of discovery and is thrilled their Ravens teammates want to join them on it.

The Toronto native said: “Personally, I'm still learning, and I don't have all the answers. But for me, it was when I was growing up and coming into myself.

“I just didn't feel fully comfortable being female and I didn't want to be a boy either.

“So, I was educating myself within the LGBT community, I found out what that was and what non-binary was, and it just felt right. That is who I am and who I was meant to be.

“My teammates were great when I came out to them. They didn't really care too much, they had questions like a lot of people do, which is great.

“That means they want to educate themselves too and make sure that they're saying the right things or not saying things that shouldn't be said.

“But overall, it was received very well and I'm really proud of my teammates and the coaching staff for that, they've been amazing, a super help and always supportive.”

McDaid may be the first non-binary player at a Rugby League World Cup, but they join another Canadian in making history at a major championship.

Quinn became the first out non-binary athlete to compete at an Olympic Games when they represented Canada in women’s football in Tokyo last year, making further history as the team went on to claim gold.

“It's always great to have representation and such a positive one,” McDaid added. “No matter if you're trans, non-binary, of a different faith or religion or race.

“It’s always great to have representation, especially on the women’s side of sports, because it’s not always as broadcast or media-focused.

“When you do see someone that looks like you or acts like you or believes in the same things as you, it just makes me want to continue with it.

“And it is a big inspiration to have other athletes who are non-binary or trans represent the maple leaf and Canada in a positive way.”

McDaid will represent the maple leaf one more time at this World Cup as the Ravens face Brazil in their final group game after defeats to Papua New Guinea and England ended their hopes of a semi-final place.

However, they are aiming to return to the World Cup stage in three years’ time in France and hope to be joined by other non-binary players there too.

They said: “If other non-binary athletes are the best within their countries, then they absolutely deserve to be on the team.

“Everyone has to work hard and showcase well in order to make the team no matter what your sexual orientation is or things like that.

“But it would be really awesome if there were other non-binary athletes competing who made their national teams.”

It may seem surprising that McDaid plans to become a firefighter after the World Cup given they have already blazed a trail.

It remains to be seen in 2025 if they will have ignited a spark in someone else to be who they were meant to be.

The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets