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Homophobia tide turning - Thomas

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Castleford fine 'had to be done' - Thomas

Gareth Thomas hopes the Rugby Football League's decision to clamp down on homophobic abuse can help rugby league and sport in general combat homophobia.

The RFL fined Castleford £40,000 on Tuesday after fans aimed homophobic abuse at Crusaders winger Thomas.

"I hope this starts a little snowball effect," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"The tide is turning - it's a long way off I'm sure, but it can only help not just rugby league but all sports I'm sure," added the 35-year-old Thomas.

"My dream is that one day people don't have to declare their sexuality because it's not an issue.

"That's why I think this is such a momentous occasion. The RFL are saying it's not a problem - you're making it one if you chant and abuse - otherwise we've got no problem."

In December 2009, former Wales and Lions captain Thomas broke one of the taboos that surround sport by revealing he is gay, joining stars like basketball's John Amaechi and hurling's Donal Og Cusack in coming out.

But barely a month after leaving rugby union side Cardiff Blues for league, Thomas was subjected to homophobic abuse - described by the RFL as "unacceptable" - during the Crusaders' visit to The Jungle in the Super League on 26 March.

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"The rugby league authorities have clamped down and sent an amazing message to sport in general, to supporters and people who want to play the sport," continued Thomas.

"I don't get any satisfaction out of it being tough on the Castleford people."

Thomas insisted that the abuse he experienced at The Jungle had only came from a minority of fans.

"I've experienced so much positive comment and people patting me on the back that I wasn't going to let this small crowd upset me," he stressed.

"The game was going on so I just tried to focus on that. If you're a player the only way you can answer abuse is by doing what you can do best against the team on the field within the laws of the game.

"I was desperate to get the ball in my hands and cross the line, not to run up to the fans and do anything, but just to show I'm here as a rugby player. You can judge me and heckle me on rugby but when it gets personal, you've crossed the line.

"To figure out you can abuse somebody for being gay because you've gone to a working class area, that doesn't wash with me."

Thomas, the only player to win 100 caps for Wales, remains determined the incident will not blight his rugby league career.

"I absolutely love rugby league. I don't really have any regrets in my life but I think I will regret not joining rugby league sooner," he stated.

"The camaraderie not just between our team but also the teams we play against is second to none.

"The coaches, fans, everything about it makes it a game that I always wanted to play and I feel honoured and blessed to be part of it. Super League is going to be one of the biggest and best memories of my career going back to union days."



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see also
Thomas makes switch to Crusaders
05 Mar 10 |  Crusaders
Homophobic chants cost Castleford
29 Jun 10 |  Castleford
Inside Sport - The Last Taboo
21 May 10 |  Football
Thomas hails stance on abuse
01 May 10 |  Crusaders
Castleford 22-16 Crusaders
26 Mar 10 |  My Club
Ex-Lion Thomas reveals he is gay
19 Dec 09 |  Welsh


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Sky Sports Tigers to appeal against fine - 50 mins ago
The Independent Rugby League: Did Castleford do enough to stop homophobic chanting? - 25 hrs ago
Sportal.com.au Fine for gay abuse - 38 hrs ago
Telegraph Thomas hails RFL on homophobia - 42 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk Gareth Thomas hails RFL for 'amazing message' on Castleford fine - 44 hrs ago


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