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The rugby world defends out gay athlete, lashes out at homophobia

Rugby players around the world are wearing Rainbow Laces to show support for Gareth Thomas and gay athletes.

Wales v Ireland - Rugby League Alitalia European Cup
Gareth Thomas is a legend in the rugby world.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Rugby players and clubs around the world are responding with resounding unity to the homophobic attack against out gay rugby star Gareth Thomas.

Thomas, who was a star rugby player for Cardiff and Wales’ national team, was the victim of a physical anti-gay attack recently. Now people across the rugby world in Western countries are rising to his defense and showing support for the LGBTQ community.

Team France immediately announced they would support Thomas by wearing Rainbow Laces in an upcoming match.

What’s interesting about the French wearing the Rainbow Laces and unconditionally supporting the LGBTQ community is that recently we were told that somehow the sports world in France is just so much more anti-gay than everywhere else. Wrong.

Team USA captain Blaine Scully also wore Rainbow Laces to demonstrate support for Thomas and gay athletes.

“I’m proud to stand with Gareth and the wider LGBT community against hate,” Scully said. “Rugby’s core values will always promote respect, teamwork and sportsmanship.”

Interestingly, a couple of players for England opted against wearing the Rainbow Laces not because they are anti-gay, but because they have issues with the design of the laces: too thick and too long.

“I won’t be wearing them but I fully support the LGBT community,” Underhill told the BBC. “They are actually really uncomfortable in my boots - and they are really long. On game day, little things can make quite big differences. It’s a fantastic cause to support.”

New Zealand’s rugby team, known worldwide as the All Blacks, wore Rainbow Laces in Saturday’s match against Italy, held in Rome. It’s particularly significant given the Catholic country’s history with the gay community, and the recent resurgence of anti-gay sentiment in the country.

Australia’s anti-gay hate-monger Israel Folau, who said earlier this year that “gays can go to hell,” won’t be wearing the Rainbow Laces any time soon.

You can find out more about Rainbow Laces at Stonewall.