Rugby stars support Gareth Thomas with rainbow laces

New Zealand rugby players Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Members of the All Blacks team, wearing rainbow laces, perform the Haka prior to the start of the match against Italy

Rugby players from across the globe rallied behind hate-crime victim Gareth Thomas as part of the Rainbow Laces campaign.

World champions New Zealand and USA followed the likes of Wales and France in showing support for the 44-year-old former Wales international.

Thomas was the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff earlier this month.

He said on Twitter: "I wish I could put in words what this means."

The Welsh Rugby Union made laces available to their men's and women's national teams, both in action earlier.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George North and other Wales players wore rainbow laces against South Africa in Cardiff

The Rugby Football Union gave England players the choice against Australia, with flanker Sam Underhill and centre Ben Te'o opting against it.

Underhill, 22, said he would not wear the laces because they were "uncomfortable" due to their thickness, though stressed he fully backed the campaign.

"That's something we are all very, very keen that people know," he said.

Te'o, 31, said: "I haven't got the laces at the moment. I'll just leave my boots as they are, as I've had them for the autumn."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Flanker Sam Underhill is one England player who did not wear the laces, but he "fully supports" the LGBT community

All Blacks players showed their support for Thomas in their match against Italy in Rome earlier.

And USA Eagles players wore the laces for their international friendly against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday evening.

Captain Blaine Scully, who plays for Thomas' former club Cardiff Blues, told USA Eagles Twitter account : "I am wearing rainbow laces this weekend in support of Gareth Thomas, former Cardiff Blues captain, Wales international and British & Irish Lion.

"Following the horrible attack on Gareth last weekend, I'm proud to stand with Gareth and the wider LGBT community against hate... "

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption A visibly shaken Thomas thanked police and the people of Cardiff for helping him following the attack

Many other football and rugby union clubs have also been backing the wider annual LGBT Rainbow Laces campaign that the charity Stonewall UK began in 2013.

Referees in charge of Premiership Rugby games across England also wore a specially-designed jersey.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Match officials across all Premiership Rugby games wore the specially-designed kit

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites