Gareth Thomas (rugby)
Gareth Thomas (born 25 July 1974), nicknamed 'Alfie', is a retired Welsh professional rugby player, who represented Wales in both rugby union and rugby league. He was the most capped Welsh rugby union player, with 100 test match appearances until he was overtaken by Stephen Jones in September 2011. He is currently ranked 12th among international try scorers and is the second highest Wales try scorer behind Shane Williams. He also won 4 rugby league caps for Wales, scoring 3 tries.
He played rugby union for Bridgend, Cardiff, the Celtic Warriors, Toulouse, Cardiff Blues and Wales as a fullback, wing or centre. In 2010 he moved to rugby league, playing for the Crusaders RL in the Super League, and for Wales. He retired from rugby in October 2011.
He announced publicly that he is gay in 2009. In December 2009 Thomas was voted top of the Pink List in 2010 of the 101 most influential gay people in the UK and he received Stonewall’s Hero of the Year award in October 2010. Thomas is a supporter of Childline and is co-founder of Distinct Management and PR with his manager Emanuele Palladino.
Thomas started his career at Pencoed RFC at youth level before starting his first class career at Bridgend. He then moved to Pontypridd, but never actually played a game for them before re-signing for Bridgend. He then spent a spell at Cardiff starting in 1997 before rejoining hometown club Bridgend again in 2001 and captaining them to a Welsh Premier Division title in 2003, in a campaign where they were unbeaten at home and only lost to runners-up Neath and Cardiff away. He then joined the Celtic Warriors once the Welsh Rugby Union implemented its regional rugby plans for the 2003–04 season. After one season as captain of the Warriors, the region was disbanded by the then-WRU chief David Moffett and owner Leighton Samuel, although Thomas had already agreed a deal to join French club Toulouse where he was seen as the ideal replacement for soon-to-retire captain Émile Ntamack. He helped the club to a Heineken Cup victory in 2005 after a victory over Stade Français at Murrayfield. On 20 January 2007, Cardiff Blues completed a deal to bring Thomas back to Wales for the 2007–08 season.
Gareth Thomas made his debut for Wales on 27 May 1995 against Japan. He scored a Welsh record-equalling four tries in the match against Italy in Treviso in 1999; one of only seven players to achieve that feat for his country. He held the Wales record for the most international tries with 40 until Shane Williams surpassed that total in the 2008 Six Nations Championship He surpassed the try record previously held by Ieuan Evans in 2004 against Italy. He also got a hat-trick of tries in the Second Test against Japan in 2001; 51 appearances after announcing his arrival on the international scene with a hat-trick in the 1995 World Cup game against the same opposition. Equally at home at centre, it was from that position he scored the longest interception try ever seen at the Arms Park, a 90-metre dash against Australia in 1996.
Thomas was selected for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. Following injury to Brian O'Driscoll in the opening minutes of the first test against New Zealand, he was made captain for the second and third tests of the series, becoming the ninth Welsh skipper in Lions' history.
Thomas was named as captain for Wales' final match in the 2007 Six Nations against England after current captain Stephen Jones was ruled out with a broken wrist. When Thomas took the field, he equalled Gareth Llewellyn's Wales record of 92 caps. He broke Llewellyn's record when he led Wales out against Australia at Telstra Stadium in Sydney on 26 May 2007, a match that Wales lost 29–23 on a Wallabies try after the siren.
His 100th, and last test match was in his team's defeat by Fiji in the 2007 World Cup.
Rugby league career
Thomas joined Crusaders in March 2010 on an 18-month deal. He made his Crusaders' (and rugby league) debut against French side Catalans Dragons on 19 March 2010. Thomas was concussed seconds into his rugby league debut after a heavy challenge from Catalans player Jamal Fakir, and as a result had to leave the field after thirty minutes. Crusaders went on to win the game 14–6. Thomas went on to score his first try for the Crusaders against Wakefield Trinity in a 20–10 away victory on 11 April. A groin injury prematurely ended Thomas' first season in rugby league, but his recovery was hoped to be complete in time for the 2010 European Cup, for which Thomas was selected in the Welsh preliminary squad.
In a warm-up test before the European Cup, he made a try-scoring international rugby league debut in Wales 13–6 loss to Italy in October 2010. He scored again in his next international vs Scotland. In the final game of the tournament, Thomas was appointed captain, filling in for the injured Lee Briers. He scored a try in that game, helping Wales to a one-point win for both the European Cup Trophy and a spot in the 2011 Rugby League Four Nations.
On 9 July 2011, Thomas confirmed on Twitter that he had broken his left arm during the 38–10 defeat to Hull Kingston Rovers, and expected to be sidelined for two months. After missing the rest of the season and failing to reach 100% fitness before the 2011 Rugby League Four Nations tournament, on 25 October 2011 Thomas announced his immediate retirement.
Thomas was born in Sarn near Bridgend. In August 2001, he married Jemma Thomas, whom he met when both were teenagers. The couple married in St Brides Major, near Bridgend, and filed for divorce in 2007; it was finalised in 2009. During the marriage, Jemma suffered three miscarriages.
In December 2009 Thomas announced publicly that he is gay. He told the Daily Mail, "I don't want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player, first and foremost I am a man". Thomas' public confirmation of his sexuality made him the first openly gay professional rugby union player. In an interview with the BBC, Thomas talked about how he hoped that his coming out would mean that in the future, young gay rugby players would be able to come out and be accepted as a "talented gay rugby player". Thomas also said, "What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby". Since coming out, Thomas has become a vocal supporter of the British charity ChildLine, a telephone counselling service for children and young people. In an interview, Thomas commented, "I don't know if my life is going to be easier because I'm out, but if it helps someone else, if it makes one young lad pick up the phone to ChildLine, then it will have been worth it".
He suffered a major health scare in February 2006. He had received a blow to his neck during a match then later on while watching a televised recording of an interview he had given regarding his part in the resignation of Welsh coach Mike Ruddock, he fell ill and was rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke, which was brought on by a ruptured artery in his neck. It was feared that this could lead to his retirement, but he resumed playing at the start of the 2006–07 French rugby season.
Actor Mickey Rourke said that he would like to play Thomas in a movie of his life, which was due to start filming in February 2013. Thomas was later reported to be working with a writer on the script of the biopic. On the RTÉ programme Craig Doyle Live in March 2012 Thomas announced that Tom Hardy is in talks to play him in the film. Mickey Rourke has announced that he has given back the part to the producers. The film project has now fallen through, but Thomas has said that he is working on a new film with a different writer.
Thomas is also one of eight celebrities chosen to participate in an intense week learning Welsh in an eco-friendly chic campsite in Pembrokeshire in the series cariad@iaith:love4language shown on S4C in May 2012.
In November 2012, he hinted to an audience of 300 people that he may be appearing in an ice dancing show and in December 2012, he was formally announced as one of the contestants, due to take part in the eighth series of ITV's Dancing on Ice in January 2013. His partner was Robin Johnstone. He was near the top of the leader board all week. In week 8, he suffered nausea and motion sickness whilst practising his "flying" routine, and was advised not to perform it and afterwards was advised to drop out of the rest of the series because of this.
- ^a Hurler Donal Óg Cusack, who openly discussed his sexual orientation before any of the above, does not fulfill the criteria "current professional male athlete in a team sport who is openly gay", as professionalism is banned from hurling by GAA rules.
- Gareth Thomas retires from rugby, BBC Sport, 25 October 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2012
- "Wales international Gareth Thomas announces retirement from all forms of rugby". London: The Telegraph. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- Smith, Gary (3 May 2010). "Gareth Thomas... The Only Openly Gay Male Athlete". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- Hugh, Montgomery (1 August 2010). "The IoS Pink List 2010". London: The Independent. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- "Blues seek early Thomas release". BBC News. 21 January 2007.
- Profile on Yahoo! Sport
- "Rugby captain guilty of assault". BBC News. 10 November 2005.
- "Wales rule out Thomas ban appeal". BBC News. 2 February 2007.
- "Thomas to deputise for injured captain". Welsh Rugby Union. 14 March 2007.
- "Australia 29–23 Wales". BBC Sport Online. 26 May 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
- "BBC Sport – Rugby League – Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 10–20 Crusaders". BBC News. 11 April 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
- "Gareth Thomas hails rugby hero Allan Bateman". BBC News. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
- [dead link]
- "BBC Sport – Rugby League – Crusaders' Gareth Thomas could miss rest of season". BBC News. 10 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- Roughley, Gregg (25 October 2011). "Wales international Gareth Thomas retires from all forms of rugby". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "Jemma Thomas: Gareth Thomas’ Ex-Wife | RightFielders Women in Sports". Sports.rightpundits.com. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Weathers, Helen. "When Gareth Thomas told me he was gay, it was as if the man I loved had died, says ex-wife Jemma". Daily Mail (London).
- Weathers, Helen (18 December 2009). "British Lions rugby legend Gareth Thomas: 'It's ended my marriage and nearly driven me to suicide. Now it's time to tell the world the truth — I'm gay'". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 18 December 2009.
- "Ex-Lion Thomas reveals he is gay". BBC News. 19 December 2009.
- Clutton, Graham (18 December 2009). "Wales and Lions full-back Gareth Thomas discloses he is homosexual". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "In-depth interview – Gareth Thomas". BBC Sport. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
- Jamie Doward (19 December 2009). "Gay activists praise rugby star Gareth Thomas's decision to come out". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 June 2010.
- Gareth Thomas Official Website. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
- Gareth Thomas BBC profile, BBC Sport Online
- "Thomas rejects retirement reports". BBC News. 17 March 2006.
- Davies, Sean (29 September 2004). "Thomas turns gamekeeper". BBC News.
- "Movie star Mickey Rourke set to play Gareth Thomas on the big screen". The Mirror. 29 November 2011.
- "Rugby star Gareth Thomas talks over Rourke film script". The Mirror. 10 January 2012.
- Rees, Jasper (19 February 2015). "Gareth Thomas: how my secret life took centre stage". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
- "Celebrities go into Big Brother house". BBC News. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- "Gareth Thomas – Dancing on Ice | Wedding DJ | Mobile Disco Hire". Live Events Group. 24 November 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
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