TEAMS TIE UP THEIR SUPPORT FOR ALFIE
ON THE face of it, it was a small gesture. But something as simple as wearing rainbow-coloured boot laces yesterday sent out a powerful message to the world as sports stars showed their support for exWales captain Gareth Thomas.
Alfie was the victim of a homophobic attack last Saturday.
The 44-year-old posted a video to Twitter the following morning, explaining what had happened, and the world of rugby and beyond rallied around him, with a series of high-profile figures, including the Wales rugby team and the All Blacks, posting messages of support.
Yesterday the sporting world supported him in colourful style by donning rainbow-coloured laces at high-profile matches throughout the day.
Responding to the All Blacks’ decision to go rainbow for their match against Italy, he tweeted: “I wish I could put into words what this means.”
And thanking the Wales camp, he said: “The support for LGBT continues. Thank you from the whole community.”
Public support for Alfie snowballed over the last seven days.
France took the lead, when their Rugby Federation announced it would wear the laces in yesterday’s clash with Fiji.
On his official Twitter account, FFR vice-president Serge Simon wrote: “Dear Gareth Thomas, 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 v Fiji game on Saturday night.
“We’re all in with you in this matter.”
Wales’ senior and women’s team wore the rainbow laces for their former 100-cap player when they locked horns with the Springboks yesterday at the Principality Stadium.
However, they were not forced upon the entire squad and, for performance reasons alone, some players stuck to their boot manufacturer’s usual laces.
Before the South Africa clash, a spokesperson for the WRU said: “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.”
And the All Blacks tweeted on Friday night: “We stand with Gareth Thomas. Rugby is a sport for all and we will show ow our solidarity by wearing ing rainbow laces in our clash with Italy this weekend.”
However, when n asked if 2018 Six Nations champions Ireland would follow suit uit for their meeting with the USA in Dublin, the IRFU said doing so would be unfair to o other groups who o make similar requests. s.
A spokesman told the Irish Independent: “As As it would be impossible le to assist with all requests, sts, we decline the wearing of any emblem, armband, orr shoelace( etc)fo ran yo ne e cause, as to do so would be unfair to the many worthy causes uses that approach us with h similar requests”
The IRFU have said d it will share any messages of support upport that International Gay Rugby ugby (IGR) post on social media.
Following the attack, ack, police have revealed that t the teen admitted assault and d was apologetic for his actions, while restorative justice was at the he request of Mr Thomas. Restorative ative justice brings those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication enabling everyone one affected by a particular incident nt to enter a dialogue.
Wales players wear rainbow laces during their match with South Africa yesterday The Ricoh Arena main scoreboard with the Rainbow Laces logo during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and Bristol Bears Gareth Thomas on Twitter following the attack in Cardiff over his sexuality Kieran Read of the All Blacks wears rainbow coloured laces during the international rugby match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Italy at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, yesterday Assistant referee Steve Lee shows his support during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints