TEAMS TIE UP THEIR SUP­PORT FOR AL­FIE

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - JOSHUA KNAPMAN Re­porter [email protected]­line.co.uk

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.

TONY MAR­SHALL BEN EVANS/HUW EVANS AGENCY LYNNE CAMERON PHIL WAL­TER

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

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