Rugby players around the world have worn rainbow laces on the field to support for openly gay former player Gareth Thomas after he was the victim of a gay hate crime.
The former Wales rugby player, who came out as gay in 2009 and retired in 2011, told his Twitter followers on November 18 he had been the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff that weekend.
At the weekend, rugby teams from the UK, New Zealand and France wore the rainbow laces during their matches in a show of support for Thomas.
“All Blacks players will show their support for former Wales captain Gareth Thomas by wearing rainbow laces in their match against Italy tomorrow. #rainbowlaces #pride,” the New Zealand rugby team tweeted on Friday.
In response, Thomas tweeted, “I wish I could put in words what this means.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 23, 2018
I wish I could put in words what this means.🌈🌈 https://t.co/1z7yTwVelt
— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) November 23, 2018
— The Royal Welsh (@TheRoyalWelsh) November 24, 2018
We believe in rugby for all.
— USA Rugby (@USARugby) November 23, 2018
In an emotional video on his Twitter, Thomas could be seen with scratches and bruising on his head as a result of the attack.
Thomas said, “Last night I was the victim in my home city of a hate crime for my sexuality.
He said instead of pressing charges he had chosen to talk to the 16-year-old perpetrator explaining the harm his attack had caused.
“I want to say thank you to the police, who were involved and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people that did this, because I thought they could learn more that way than any other way,” he said.
“And also to the people of Cardiff who supported me and helped me because there’s a lot of people out there who want to hurt us.
“But, unfortunately for them, there’s a lot more who want to help us heal. So this, I hope, will be a positive message.”