Rival’s cutting on-field Folau sledge
All Blacks and Chiefs prop Angus Ta'avao showed his support for the LGBT community in Saturday night's Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Lions.
Ta'avao sported rainbow laces on his boots for the match at Waikato Stadium, a week after Wallabies and Waratahs star Israel Folau landed himself in hot water for anti-gay statements on social media.
Folau is fighting for his career after Rugby Australia served him with a breach notice earlier this week, attempting to terminate his $4 million contract.
The 30-year-old was slammed for calling on "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" to repent for their sins or else "hell awaits" them.
His statements were criticised by many in the rugby community, with Ta'avao now using his platform to support the LGBT community.
Ta'avao, who played three Tests for New Zealand last year, is not the only All Black to have made a statement on the issue, with star halfback TJ Perenara tweeting his support.
One-time All Blacks halfback Brad Weber also wore rainbow laces on one boot and black laces on the other in the clash against the Lions, which the South African side won 23-17
Several Chiefs players wore rainbow laces in April last year, as a response to previous anti-gay comments from Folau, while the All Blacks also wore rainbow laces against Italy in November, joining forces with other international rugby teams as a public declaration of support for the LGBT community.
Former Welsh captain Gareth Thomas was the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff in November, prompting the national rugby teams in France, Wales and England to don the rainbow coloured laces.
Thomas, who played 103 Tests for Wales and the British and Irish Lions prior to announcing he was gay in 2009, appeared with facial bruises in a video posted on Twitter earlier this week, saying he was targeted because of his sexuality in the attack.
That prompted the show of support from international sides, including the All Blacks.
"It's a show of solidarity within world rugby and from us here as New Zealanders and All Blacks to show support for that community," said All Blacks captain Kieran Read.
This article first appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission