Gareth Thomas (rugby)

Last updated

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas (rugby player).jpg
Thomas in 2011
Date of birth (1974-07-25) 25 July 1974 (age 45)
Place of birth Sarn, Bridgend, Wales
Height27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)
Weight16 st 3 lb (227 lb; 103 kg)
Rugby league career
Position(s) Wing, Centre, Second-row
Senior career
2010–11 Crusaders RL 31 (28)
Correct as of 9 July 2011
National team(s)
2010 Wales 4 (12)
Correct as of 23 October 2010
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fullback
Amateur team(s)
Pencoed ()
Senior career
Cardiff RFC
Celtic Warriors
Cardiff Blues
Correct as of 6 February 2010
National team(s)

Wales Youth
Wales U21
Wales A
B&I Lions


Correct as of 1 June 2008
National sevens team(s)

Gareth Thomas (born 25 July 1974), [1] nicknamed "Alfie", is a Welsh former professional rugby footballer, who represented Wales in both rugby union and rugby league. With 100 test match appearances he was the most capped Welsh rugby union player until he was overtaken by Stephen Jones in September 2011. He is currently ranked 13th 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.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Rugby football is a collective name for the team sports of rugby league and rugby union, as well as the earlier forms of football from which both games evolved. Canadian football, and to a lesser extent American football were also broadly considered forms of rugby football but are seldome now referred to as such

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, widely known simply as rugby, is a contact team sport that originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is played between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at either end.


He played rugby union as a [(unicorn (rugby union)|fullback]], wing or centre for Bridgend, Cardiff, the Celtic Warriors, Toulouse, Cardiff Blues, and Wales. In 2010 he moved to rugby league, playing for the Crusaders in the Super League, and for Wales. He retired from rugby in October 2011. [2]

Cardiff RFC british rugby union football club based in Cardiff

Cardiff Rugby Football Club is a rugby union football club based in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. The club was founded in 1876 and played their first few matches at Sophia Gardens, shortly after which relocating to Cardiff Arms Park where they have been based ever since.

Celtic Warriors former rugby union team from Wales, who played only in the 2003–04 sports season

The Celtic Warriors were a rugby union team from Wales, who played in the 2003–04 Celtic League and the 2003–04 Heineken Cup following the introduction of regional rugby union teams in Wales. They were effectively a temporary merger of Pontypridd RFC and Bridgend RFC. The Celtic Warriors played just one season before disbanding.

Stade Toulousain rugby union team

Stade Toulousain, also referred to as Toulouse, is a French rugby union club from Toulouse in Occitania. Toulouse is one of the most successful clubs in Europe, having won the Heineken Cup a joint record four times – in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2010. They were also runners-up in 2004 and 2008 against London Wasps and Munster, respectively. Stade Toulousain have also won a record 20 French Championship titles. It is traditionally one of the main providers for the French national team. Their home ground is the Stade Ernest-Wallon. However, big Top 14 matches along with Heineken Cup games are often played at the Stadium Municipal de Toulouse. The club colours are red, black and white.

Thomas came out as gay in December 2009. [3] The following year he was voted the most influential gay person in the UK in The Independent on Sunday Pink List [4] and received Stonewall’s Hero of the Year award.

Coming out of the closet, often shortened to coming out, is a metaphor for LGBT people's self-disclosure of their sexual orientation or of their gender identity. The term coming out can also be used in various non-LGBT applications.

Stonewall (charity) UK-based charity and advocacy group for LGBT rights

Stonewall is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity in the United Kingdom, named after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village. Now the largest LGBT rights organisation not only in the UK but in Europe, it was formed in 1989 by political activists and others lobbying against section 28 of the Local Government Act. Its founders include Sir Ian McKellen, Lisa Power MBE and Lord Cashman CBE.

Club career

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. [5] 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. [ citation needed ]

Pencoed Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union team based in Pencoed. Today, Pencoed RFC plays in the Welsh Rugby Union, Division Two West League and is a feeder club for the Ospreys.

Pontypridd RFC sports club

Pontypridd Rugby Football Club are a rugby union team from Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales. They compete in the Indigo Group Premiership, which they won for four consecutive seasons between 2012 and 2015, and the Specsavers National Cup which they have won on 6 occasions with the most recent being in 2014.

The Welsh Premier Division known for sponsorship reasons as the Indigo Group Premiership is a rugby union league in Wales first implemented by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) for the 1990–91 season.

International career

Gareth Thomas made his début for Wales on 27 May 1995 against Japan. [6] 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 Wales. 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.

Japan national rugby union team rugby union team

The Japan national rugby union team, is traditionally the strongest rugby union power in Asia and has enjoyed and endured mixed results against non-Asian teams over the years. Rugby union in Japan is administered by the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU), which was founded in 1926. They compete annually in the Pacific Nations Cup and previously in the Asia Rugby Championship. They have also participated in every Rugby World Cup since the tournament began in 1987.

Italy national rugby union team sports team

The Italy national rugby union team is the representative national team in the sport of rugby union for the nation of Italy. The team is known as gli Azzurri. Savoy blue is the common colour of the national teams representing Italy, as it is the traditional colour of the royal House of Savoy which reigned over the Kingdom of Italy from 1860 to 1946.

Treviso Comune in Veneto, Italy

Treviso is a city and comune in the Veneto region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Treviso and the municipality has 84,669 inhabitants : some 3,000 live within the Venetian walls or in the historical and monumental center, some 80,000 live in the urban center proper while the city hinterland has a population of approximately 170,000. The city is home to the headquarters of clothing retailer Benetton, Sisley, Stefanel, Geox, Diadora and Lotto Sport Italia, appliance maker De'Longhi, and bicycle maker Pinarello.

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.

2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand

In 2005, the British and Irish Lions rugby union team toured New Zealand for the first time since 1993, playing seven matches against first and second division teams from the National Provincial Championship, one match against the New Zealand Maori team, and three test matches against New Zealand. The Lions lost the test series 3-0, the first time in 22 years that they lost every test match on tour.

Brian ODriscoll Irish rugby union player

Brian Gerard O'Driscoll is a former Irish professional rugby union player. He played at outside centre for the Irish provincial team Leinster and for Ireland. He captained Ireland from 2003 until 2012, and captained the British and Irish Lions for their 2005 tour of New Zealand. He is regarded by critics as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

New Zealand national rugby union team mens rugby union team of New Zealand

The New Zealand national rugby union team, commonly known as the All Blacks, represents New Zealand in men's rugby union, which is considered to be the country's national sport. The team won the Rugby World Cups in 2011 and 2015, as well as the inaugural tournament in 1987.

In 2005 Thomas was found guilty of assault while playing rugby in France [7] and in 2007 was banned for four weeks for misconduct charges. [8]

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. [9] 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. [10]

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) début against French side Catalans Dragons on 19 March 2010. Thomas was concussed seconds into his rugby league début after a heavy challenge from Catalans player David Ferriol, 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. [11] 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. [12]

In a warm-up test before the European Cup, he made a try-scoring international rugby league début in Wales 13–6 loss to Italy in October 2010. [13] 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 by Hull Kingston Rovers, and expected to be sidelined for two months. [14] 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. [15]

Personal life

Thomas was born in Sarn near Bridgend in July 1974. He married Jemma Thomas, whom he met when both were teenagers. [16] [17] The couple married in St Brides Major, near Bridgend, and filed for divorce in 2007; it was finalised in 2009. [16] During the marriage, Jemma suffered three miscarriages. [18]

In December 2009 Thomas announced publicly that he is gay. [18] 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". [19] Thomas' public confirmation of his sexuality made him the first openly gay professional rugby union player. [20] 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". [21] 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". [22] Since coming out, Thomas has become a vocal supporter of the British charity ChildLine, a telephone counselling service for children and young people. [23] 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". [22]

Thomas is often known by the nickname 'Alfie', gained as a result of his "supposed resemblance" to the alien title character in the TV sitcom ALF . [6]

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. [24] It was feared that this could lead to his retirement, [25] but he resumed playing at the start of the 2006–07 French rugby season.

His way of celebrating tries by slapping his head comes from a popular celebration among Cardiff City supporters known as "the Ayatollah". [26]

His autobiography Proud, written with Michael Calvin, won Sports Book of the Year in 2015. [27]

On 17 November 2018, Thomas was assaulted for his sexuality in Cardiff. He requested that South Wales Police deal with the 16-year-old assailant by way of restorative justice. [28]

On 14 September 2019, Thomas announced that he is HIV positive, [29] with undetectable/untransmittable status. [30] On the following day he competed in the Ironman Wales event in Tenby, finishing 413th out of 2,039, having vowed to "break the stigma" around the illness. [31]


In November 2011, actor Mickey Rourke said that he was planning to portray Thomas in a movie of his life; the film was due to start filming in February 2013. [32] Thomas was later reported to be working with a writer on the script of the biopic. [33] In March 2012, on the RTÉ programme Craig Doyle Live , Thomas announced that Tom Hardy was in talks to play him in the film. Rourke announced that he had given back the part to the producers. The film project later fell through, but Thomas said in 2015 that he was working on a new film with a different writer. [34]

Media career

Thomas was an analyst for ITV's coverage of the 2011, 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cup

In January 2012, Thomas was a housemate in the ninth series of Celebrity Big Brother , and finished third overall on the final night. [35]

In 2012 Thomas made a cameo appearance as himself in an episode of the Sky 1 comedy drama Stella .

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 [36] 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.

On 18 January 2015, Thomas took part in celebrity talent show Get Your Act Together . [37] He features in the Pinc List of leading Welsh LGBT figures. [38]

In 2017, Thomas participated in the fourth series of The Jump. He withdrew on 7 March 2017, and Lydia Bright replaced him for the final.

See also

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  1. Gareth Thomas retires from rugby, BBC Sport, 25 October 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2012
  2. "Wales international Gareth Thomas announces retirement from all forms of rugby". London: The Telegraph. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  3. Smith, Gary (3 May 2010). "Gareth Thomas… The Only Openly Gay Male Athlete". Sports Illustrated . Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  4. Hugh, Montgomery (1 August 2010). "The IoS Pink List 2010". London: The Independent. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  5. "Blues seek early Thomas release". BBC News. 21 January 2007.
  6. 1 2 Profile on Yahoo! Sport
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  10. "Australia 29–23 Wales". BBC Sport Online . 26 May 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
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  13. Archived 7 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
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  19. "Ex-Lion Thomas reveals he is gay". BBC News. 19 December 2009.
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  29. Davies, Daniel (14 September 2019). "Ex-Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas reveals he has HIV". BBC News. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
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Sporting positions
Preceded by
Brian O'Driscoll
Tour Captain
Martin Corry
Active captain
British and Irish Lions Captain
Remained Tour Captain
July 2005
as Active captain
Succeeded by
Paul O'Connell