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.
Dear @gareththomas14,— Serge Simon (@DrSergeSIMON) November 20, 2018
All of French Rugby is with you regarding the homophobic molestation you’ve been victim of.
To show our support, the French rugby players will wear a rainbow shoe lace during the France – Fidji game on Saturday night.
We’re all in with you in this matter.
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.”
We believe in rugby for all.— USA Rugby (@USARugby) November 23, 2018
Together, we stand with you @gareththomas14 and with the entire @IGRugby and #LGBT community. @WorldRugby | @BlaineScully1 #RainbowLaces #EaglesUnited pic.twitter.com/rWtjlTdcIH
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.