Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Kings Cross Steelers pledge support to honorary president Gareth Thomas amid Rainbow Laces weekend

Posted on 24 November 2018 by Michael Jordan

Former Wales rugby union captain Gareth Thomas was the victim of a hate crime for his sexuality in his home city of Cardiff last week.

The 44-year-old released a video message on his personal social media feed stating that he had suffered abuse from a number of men the previous night, with scars visible on his face.

Thomas said that he wanted his message to be a positive one as he thanked the Cardiff police and locals for helping him on the night and showing their fantastic and unwavering support.

Amid Rainbow laces weekend — where teams and officials across the Rugby Premiership will show their inclusive support to the LGBT community within sport — Kings Cross Steelers have been one of many sides to express their backing of Thomas.

Kings Cross Steelers, based in East London, are one of 16 inclusive rugby teams in the UK and Gareth Thomas acts as the Honorary President of the club.

In a statement regarding the terrible and hateful act which Thomas suffered from, Kings Cross Steelers RFC Chairman, Matt Webb said:

“We are deeply saddened that Gareth Thomas, our honorary president, has been subject to a homophobic attack.

“This act proves why clubs like the Kings Cross Steelers, the world’s first inclusive rugby club, still need to exist in 2018. We were founded 23 years ago on the principle of equality and are committed to tackling homophobia in sport.”

Thomas has thanked the significant support he has received following the incident and has promised to continue fighting for equality within the game — stating that the physical scars are healing, but the mental scars he suffered that night will stay with him for some time.

The attackers have apologised to Thomas since the incident occurred and Thomas has acted admirably in accepting their individual apologies, professing his hope that they will stay true to their words and never act in a similar manner again.

Webb added in his statement: “We’re encouraging all players, teams, clubs, officials and fans to stand shoulder to shoulder with Gareth and ourselves who work to stamp out this kind of hate.

“This weekend we’ll be Rainbow lacing our boots in partnership with Stonewall, England Rugby and Premiership Rugby as we all continue to work towards equality.”

Embed from Getty Images

The rugby world is firmly behind Thomas as a whole host of big names within the sport will be participating in the Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces Campaign in support of LGBT equality and inclusivity.

Nations such as Wales, England, France, New Zealand and USA amongst others have expressed their involvement in highlighting rugby as the inclusive sport which it has strived to become and that any individual from any background is welcome with open arms onto the rugby pitch.

In the campaign’s second year, the Stonewall Rainbow Laces Campaign was created in order to raise awareness and money for those who have been victimised by social marginalisation in England and afar.

Players will be wearing rainbow laces across the rugby weekend, in addition to Premiership Officials wearing rainbow shirts and rainbow flags replacing the standard flags on the field of play.

Featured photograph/JointBaseAndrews