"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".
Gareth Thomas CBE, nicknamed "Alfie", is a Welsh former professional rugby player, 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 14th among international try scorers, and is the third highest Wales try scorer behind Shane Williams & George North. He also won four rugby league caps for Wales, scoring three tries.
He played rugby union as a fullback, wing or centre for Bridgend, Cardiff, the Celtic Warriors, Toulouse, Cardiff Blues, Wales and the British and Irish Lions. In 2010 he changed rugby football codes from rugby union to rugby league when he transferred from Cardiff Blues the Crusaders in the Super League, and for Wales. He retired from rugby in October 2011.
Gareth is a no nonsense and passionate guy who endeared himself to the Welsh public very early on in his career. It was to many people’s surprise that he came out as gay in 2009, making him the first openly gay rugby union player. 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".
In an interview with the BBC, Gareth 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". Since coming out, Thomas has become a vocal supporter of the NSPCC and ChildLine. 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".