Chiefs lace up for love in gay rights awareness push

Weber and several Chiefs players and staff wore rainbow-coloured laces in support of gay rights.
Weber and several Chiefs players and staff wore rainbow-coloured laces in support of gay rights. Photo credit: brad_weber9/Instagram

The Chiefs players and coaching staff wore rainbow-coloured bootlaces during their 36-12 win over the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday (NZT), to show their support for gay rights and inclusiveness.

Auckland-based gay rugby team the New Zealand Falcons and International Gay Rugby rustled together enough laces for the outspoken Brad Weber to wear, alongside several players and staff.

Weber was the first high-profile player to go public with his "disgust" over anti-gay comments made by Wallabies star Israel Folau on Instagram.

The one-test All Black, who spent most of last season sidelined with a broken leg, took to Twitter to blast Folau.

"Kinda sick of us players staying quiet on some of this stuff," he tweeted. "I can't stand that I have to play this game that I love with people, like Folau, who say that he's saying.

"My cousin and her partner, and my Aunty and her partner are some of the most kind, caring & loving people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. To think that I play against someone that says they'll go to Hell for being gay disgusts me."

Head coach Colin Cooper has thrown his support behind Weber and the rest of Chiefs personnel's decision to express themselves.

Listen to Andrew Gouride and Jim Kayes on RadioLIVE every Sunday.
Listen to Andrew Gouride and Jim Kayes on RadioLIVE every Sunday. Photo credit: Newshub

Speaking to Andrew Gourdie and Jim Kayes on RadioLIVE, Cooper says it's a product of an all-inclusive environment at the club - and he knows how he would deal with Folau if he were on the team.

"I want people to be able to bring their children, bring their partners, bring their friends into the Chiefs and feel valued, so we continue to drive that - and it's something that's been happening quite strong in the Chiefs and it was there before, and I'm just really driving it even harder," he said.

"It's a pretty high male-dominated, ego-driven culture isn't it? And I think the game has to change and the leadership has to change to make people valued and make people accountable and make people wanting to be a Chief, making it a good experience for them, so we need to hear and they need to be valued.

"With Israel, it's just working with him and making sure everyone's safe and if your comments don't make people safe, then you should be spoken to."

Newshub.