Gareth Thomas is one of the most iconic and respected figures in world rugby. He was the first Welsh player to reach 100 caps and captained Wales in 2005 to the first grand slam in 27 years. Since retiring in 2011, Gareth has become a regular analyst for ITV Sport and has worked on Rugby World Cups as well as numerous RBS 6 Nations coverage. Thomas has also become a household name, entertaining audiences on national TV and raising awareness around key issues, in particular LGBTQ+ equality, mental health and tackling stigma around HIV.
Thomas shot on to the professional rugby scene in 1994, aged 20, playing for his hometown, Bridgend. His 1995 hat-trick debut for Wales then marked the beginning of an exceptional international career, where he went on to captain the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand and be named BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in recognition of his unique standing.
In 2009, Gareth famously became the first high profile sportsman in the world to come out as gay whilst still playing. Whilst he never downplays the significance of this achievement, he hopes to see a day when it is no longer an issue in the game at all. Since this iconic revelation, Gareth has continued to use his platform to champion issues close to him, sharing his own experiences with mental health in his autobiography Proud.
Gareth is also known by the nickname Alfie, owing to his resemblance to a cartoon character called Alf. In 2011, world famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin launched an ‘Alfie’ shoe range inspired by the legendary sportsman. Not adverse to a bit of fun, in 2012 Gareth famously appeared in Celebrity Big Brother where he finished a credible third, as well as ITV’s Dancing on Ice and Channel 4’s The Jump in 2017.
More recently, in 2019, Gareth bravely told the world he was living with HIV. He timed the announcement to coincide with his taking part in an Ironman triathlon to demonstrate that HIV didn’t weaken him, he was in control. His BBC documentary, Gareth Thomas: HIV and Me, aired shortly afterwards and he has since launched a Tackle HIV campaign to help others with prejudice surrounding HIV.
Gareth wrote an award winning book Proud in 2014 charting his rollercoaster journey to becoming the most prominent athlete to come out as a gay man, and in 2021 he has written about his experience of the media and stigma in Stronger, supporting charities such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and setting up a Tackle HIV initiative to continue to break down stigma around HIV.
Gareth is now a regular speaker on the corporate circuit, addressing LGBTQ+ issues and HIV awareness with the same vigour and enthusiasm with which he approached his playing career. He provides important insight into topics such as motivation, diversity and the importance of teamwork, and delivers his unique story through a very moving and engaging talk to companies and organisations all over the country.
Aside from his work as a beloved commentator and campaigner, Gareth enjoys walking the dog and spending lots of time with his husband.