Rugby star Gareth Thomas speaks of amazing response after revealing he is gay
Wales and British Lions legend Gareth Thomas has praised the “amazing response” he received from friends and fans after revealing he is gay.
Gareth Thomas, Wales' most-capped player after appearing in 100 Tests, made the surprise announcement in an interview with British newspaper The Daily Mail.
The player previously confessed to Wales coach Scott Johnson after a match in November 2006, and the Australian then informed his teammates Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams."They came in, patted me on the back and said, 'We don't care,'" Thomas said.
He decided to make his sexuality public at the weekend and said the positive reaction should encourage others to do the same.
Former England and Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward said Thomas was one of the "toughest" players he had worked with and that, as far as he was concerned, Thomas' sexuality was "irrelevant".
"I'm sure rugby will take it in its stride," Woodward told Sportsweek.
"If anyone doesn't take that attitude then they've got the problem, rather than Gareth having a problem."
Former Wales coach Scott Johnson, one of the first people Thomas confided in three years ago, said "I'm happy for Gareth, he's now free," Johnson said. "It's a big admission in a sport that . . . is considered macho."
After the news, Robert Norster, the chief executive of Cardiff Blues, said Thomas was “a credit to Cardiff Blues who has truly brought honour to the jersey as a formidable player and a strong leader”, adding that “his private life is his own concern”.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has praised rugby star Gareth Thomas for his courage in revealing that he is homosexual.
He said: "It's very positive that Gareth has come out while he is still an active player. Many sports people who declared their homosexuality have tended to do so after their careers.
"Hopefully this will ease the way for other gays to come out."
Scott Johnson, an assistant coach with Wales in 2006 when Thomas told him he was gay, said he is "proud" to know the player.
"Gareth is as brave off the field as he is on the field," Johnson, now coach of Welsh region the Ospreys, told BBC Radio 5 live. "As a coach, you don't get to be a hero worshiper of many players, but he will always go down as a special player and a special human being."
“I just want to thank everyone for the amazing response I have received, on behalf of me, my family and friends,” Thomas said.
“I hope that by saying this I can make a big difference to others in my situation.”