Sunday 15 September 2019

Welsh players follow French lead by promising to wear rainbow laces in support of Gareth Thomas this weekend

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Wales' national teams will show their support to former captain Gareth Thomas by wearing rainbow laces this weekend.

Thomas, who won 100 caps for his country, was the victim of a homophobic assault in Cardiff on Saturday evening.

Wales' men's team will wear the laces against South Africa, while the women's team will wear them in their match against Canada and the French will make a similar gesture for their Test match against Fiji in Paris.

The Rainbow Laces campaign began in 2013, when gay rights group Stonewall invited footballers in England and Scotland to wear them, and in 2017 Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones made a public show of support by wearing the laces for his team's clash with New Zealand.

"We are delighted to confirm that Welsh rugby is once again proudly endorsing Stonewall Cymru's Rainbow Laces initiative throughout its two-week 2018 awareness campaign, whilst continuing to permanently support its values on a year round basis ," said a WRU spokesperson.

"Many of our national game's core values of respect, teamwork and sportsmanship resonate with what is at the heart of this important campaign and we remain committed to ensuring that rugby provides an inclusive and welcoming environment for all at every level of the game.

"Each of the four regional teams in Welsh rugby are backing the campaign and laces have been purchased and distributed around the community game in Wales leading up to 'Wear Your Rainbow Laces Day' on Wednesday 28th November, with all WRU staff on the ground encouraged to take an active role in support.

"Our referees department will also be specifically supporting the campaign with all Premiership referees due to be wearing the laces in all Premiership fixtures over the weekend of the 1st December 2018.

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"Wales' national teams, women's and men's, who are in action this weekend, have also been given access to laces and will be issuing their own personal messages of support in the coming days.

"#RainbowLacesDay and #WYRLD2018 will also feature prominently on WRU social channels as we seek to wholeheartedly endorse key messages of inclusion and support, as an active ally to the LGBT community, and formally condemn any comment or action to the contrary."

Thomas, 44, who came out as gay in 2009, appeared bruised in a Twitter video, saying he was targeted because of his sexuality.

Officers dealt with a 16-year-old boy by way of restorative justice following a request by Thomas to "send a positive message".

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