Wales

Wales team in anti-gay abuse campaign after Nigel Owens abuse

Justin Tipuric (left) and Taulupe Faletau Image copyright Stonewall Cymru
Image caption Justin Tipuric (left) and Taulupe Faletau are among the players to sign a pledge supporting the campaign

The Wales rugby squad and the Welsh Rugby Union have joined a campaign to help tackle abuse and bullying.

The move comes after referee Nigel Owens was subjected to homophobic abuse at Twickenham during England's loss to New Zealand two weeks ago.

Stonewall Cymru will launch the campaign at Saturday's game between Wales and New Zealand at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Owens said he was pleased the rugby community was standing up to bullies.

Figures from the charity show that more that 75,000 young people will be bullied this year for being gay, and 21,000 will attempt suicide.

This affects people's self-esteem and can escalate from playground name-calling to grown-up violence, the charity said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nigel Owens said he would not be a bystander to abuse

Nigel Owens said too many people faced abuse and those who give it should be "called out" for the damage it does.

"Recently comments were thrown at me as I was simply doing my job. I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me - you get disappointed and down, it gets to you," he said.

"We are only human and when people say horrible things about you, it gets in your mind."

"I won't be a bystander to abuse and I hope that fans of the game will really get behind this campaign," he added.

Spectators at Saturday's match will be shown Stonewall's NoBystanders campaign video, which features openly-gay actor Sir Ian McKellen.

The charity's director Andrew White, said the support of the Wales squad sent a message to thousands of supporters that everyone has a part to play in stopping bullying.

Roger Lewis, group chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, said it was important to retain the traditional values of rugby, which promote friendly camaraderie between players and supporters and respect towards players, fans and match officials.

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