Ireland will not wear symbol of solidarity in support of Gareth Thomas following homophobic attack
The Irish rugby team will not be wearing a symbol of solidarity for Gareth Thomas when they are back in action this weekend against the USA.
France took a gallant lead when the French Rugby Federation announced that it will wear rainbow laces in Saturday's match against Fiji in Paris as a sign of support for the former Wales captain who was the victim of a homophobic assault in Cardiff last week.
But when asked if Joe Schmidt’s army will follow suit, the IRFU said doing so would be unfair to other groups who make similar requests.
“As it would be impossible to assist with all requests, we decline the wearing of any emblem, armband, or shoelace (etc) for any one cause, as to do so would be unfair to the many worthy causes that approach us with similar requests,” a spokesperson said.
"Unfortunately, there remains a number of societal issues that are yet to be eradicated, and we receive similar requests from organisations, across a range of issues, each year."
However, the IRFU said it will share any messages of support that International Gay Rugby (IGR) post on social media.
“The values of rugby are of paramount importance, and we try to ensure that those involved in our games, our clubs and indeed those who attend our matches, observe these at all times.
“We have confirmed that we are happy to share messaging on this issue from IGR, across our widely followed digital platforms.
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“As part of our Spirit of Rugby programmes we try to ensure that our values of respect and inclusivity are shared, supported and observed. Through this programme we build a welcoming and safe environment for all those involved in our game.
“Our digital team will keep an eye out for IGR messaging and support it where possible,” said the spokesperson.
On Sunday, IGR stated that it stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Gareth Thomas in condemning the homophobic attack he was subjected to.
“To us Gareth is a hero, one of the few brave enough in men’s rugby to stand up and be open about who he is,” said IGR Chair Ben Owen.
“But it shouldn’t be that way, it shouldn’t take bravery to be who you are or to go out for a few pints to celebrate your team winning.
“Hate crimes have no place in 21st century Britain and have no place in our sport, on or off the pitch.
“Luckily the actions of these sick few are not representative of the many in the rugby community.”