The All Blacks are the latest rugby team to say they will wear rainbow laces in their boots this weekend in a show of support for Gareth Thomas after the former Wales captain was the victim of an anti-gay attack.
Thomas, who announced in 2009 he is gay, recorded a video last weekend saying he was assaulted in Cardiff in “a hate crime for my sexuality.” He had bruises on his face in the video.
Police in Cardiff have said a 16-year-old boy has admitted to carrying out the assault.
New Zealand said in a tweet on Friday its players would wear the rainbow laces in a tribute to Thomas in Saturday’s test match against Italy.
Thomas reacted to the All Blacks tweet by saying on Twitter, “I wish I could put in words what this means.”
Wales and France have already said they will do the same during their games on Saturday, but England and Australia are letting the players choose for themselves.
Some England players have said they won’t wear the rainbow laces.
“That’s more to do with the thickness of the laces, they are actually really uncomfortable in my boots,” flanker Sam Underhill said. “And they are really long.
“I won’t be wearing them, but I fully support the LGBT community. That’s something we are all very, very keen that people know.
“On game day, little things can make quite big differences. If it was on a shirt or something like that, I don’t think anyone would say anything. But it’s just the fact that you get two bits of kit that are yours — your boots and your gumshield.
“It sounds a bit stupid, but changes in things such as your laces can make a big difference to a player. You like to keep your routine the same.”
Center Ben Te’o also won’t wear the special laces.