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Gareth Thomas
(July 25, 1974 - living) U.K.

Gareth Thomas

Rugby player

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Gareth (born in Sarn near Bridgend, Wales), A prolific try scorer at international level, Gareth is listed ninth in the world on the all-time Test try scoring list. He is often referred to by his nickname 'Alfie' due to a supposed resemblance to a character in a sitcom called ALF. His way of celebrating tries by slapping his head is called "the Ayatollah", used as a reminder that Gareth is a keen Cardiff City supporter (the Ayatollah is a popular celebration amongst Cardiff fans).

Gareth 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 made his debut for Wales on 27 May 1995 against Japan.

Gareth 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.

He 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. His 100th, and so far last test match was in his team's defeat by Fiji in the 2007 World Cup.

In 2005 Gareth was found guilty of assault whilst playing rugby in France and in 2007 was banned for four weeks for misconduct charges. He was also implicated in the circumstances surrounding the departure of Six Nations-winning Wales coach Mike Ruddock and was involved in an explosive televised interview with BBC Scrum V pundit Eddie Butler about the issue.

From 2002 to 2006, Gareth was married to childhood sweetheart Jemma. The couple married in St Brides Major, near Bridgend, and divorced in 2007; during the relationship, Jemma suffered three miscarriages.

Having come out to Wales coach Scott Johnson and team mates Stephen Jones and Martin Williams in November 2006, in December 2009 Gareth came out in public that he is gay. This was seen as a surprising move given the taboo nature of homosexuality within team sports. Gareth's public confirmation of his sexuality makes him the first openly gay professional rugby player still playing the game.

Gareth suffered a major health scare after the resignation of Welsh coach Mike Ruddock in February 2006 was blamed on player power from senior players. He had received a blow to his neck during a match then later on whilst watching a televised recording of an interview he had given regarding his part in the Mike Ruddock affair, he fell ill and was rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke, which was brought on by a ruptured artery in his neck. It was feared this could lead to retirement but he resumed playing at the start of the 2006/07 French rugby season.

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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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