The footy mates had dominated this season of Ten’s adventure-based reality show, winning eight out of 10 legs of the race and forming a tight alliance with siblings Viv and Joey and married couple Jasmine and Jerome.
But in Monday’s episode, that alliance soured, as the other teams surprised Tom and Tyler by nominating them for a “U-turn” challenge, which threw them to the back of the pack.
In the end, they were mere minutes behind the others at the finish line, making for this season’s most awkward scene: Host Beau Ryan telling the boys they’d lost out on the chance to win $250k while the contestants who orchestrated their downfall watched on.
The usually chipper duo refused to even look at or speak to their former alliance members, several of whom were in tears.
“He thought we had an alliance … would’ve just preferred if they’d just say it to our face instead of lying to us the whole time,” said Tom.
And speaking to news.com.au yesterday, it was quickly apparent that time had not yet healed this particular wound.
“We were absolutely shattered. The way we went out hurt us a lot – we built up some great friendships while travelling with these people, and to have other teams lie to us … it didn’t need to happen,” Tyler told news.com.au. “Sure, the smartest thing to do would’ve been to U-turn us, but we don’t understand why people we were friends with lied to us.”
Tom revealed the boys were struggling to contain their anger during the scene.
“You become so close, these friendships grow and build over four weeks, to see it all get flipped on its head in that one moment … I didn’t know how to control myself, If I’m to be honest.”
While Tom said post-show he’d still “throw out the occasional like and comment” on Jasmine and Jerome’s Instagram, Tyler said he couldn’t even bring himself to do that.
“Tom’s a bit more forgiving than myself, so it’s a bit different for me on that front. In my opinion, cameras shouldn’t change the way people act. Something like that didn’t need to happen to us, and if my friends lied to me on the outside, they wouldn’t be my friends anymore,” he said.
Tom said his hopes of a genuine friendship with their competitors had been dashed.
“I genuinely thought that post-race, Jerome and Tyler and I would be good mates, and I’d be able to meet his new kid, Jerome Jr, and we’d be friends into the future. But it’s the blatant lie that really gets me. He potentially could’ve taken $250k out of our pockets … to think how much different our lives could’ve been. The goal was to make the top three … and we didn’t even make that.”
One thing that has given the boys a laugh during their Amazing Race experience: viewers’ reaction to their very tactile friendship. At times it seemed these footy mates couldn’t hail a taxi without marking the occasion by leaping into each other’s arms. Indeed, perhaps the only person giving out more cuddles was host Beau Ryan himself.
“I’ve had a lot of laughs about the reaction some people have had about Tom and I being gay. That’s just the way we’ve always acted: You kick a goal in footy, you hug each other. I actually think it’s a pretty positive thing for kids in Australia to see you can act that way with your mates and still be a straight footy bloke. You can hug your mate, you can ask if he’s OK and change that idea of what masculinity is,” said Tyler.
“And really, we didn’t mean to be so touchy and hug each other all the time … it’s just what happened,” said Tom.
The Amazing Race season finale airs 7.30pm Tuesday on Ten.