Rugby legend Gareth Thomas, 48, denies court claim he infected ex-partner with HIV

Wales rugby legend Gareth Thomas is pictured in October 2010

Gareth Thomas is a former Welsh rugby union player. He has represented Wales in both Rugby Union and Rugby League and was the country’s most capped player until he was overtaken in 2011.

He came out as gay in 2009 following a split from his wife and childhood sweetheart Jemma in 2007, becoming Britain’s first openly gay rugby player.

Thomas, who is affectionately known as ‘Alfie’ because of his ‘resemblance to the alien character from the TV series ‘Alf’, has struggled with his sexuality for years, telling how he was brought to the brink of suicide in several occasions

He told the Daily Mail in December 2009: “I was like a bomb. I thought I could suppress it, keep it locked away in some dark corner of myself, but I couldn’t.

“It was who I was, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I had gone through every emotion under the sun trying to deal with it.

“You wake up one morning thinking, ‘I can handle this’. Everything’s fine’, and the next morning you don’t want anyone to see your face, because you think if people look at you, they’ll know.’

Wales rugby legend Gareth Thomas is pictured in October 2010

He continued: “I used to feel so lonely and depressed at times. I’ve stood on so many cliff edges.

“I used to go to the cliffs overlooking the beach near our cottage in St Brides Major and just think about jumping off and getting it all over with.”

The year after he came out he was voted the most influential gay person in the UK and has since worked with multiple LGBT charities amongst others.

Thomas is the youngest of three children. His older brothers are Richard and Steven. His father Barry, 69, is a retired postal worker, and his mother Yvonne, 70, a former hospital secretary.

He began his sporting career with his native Bridgend in 1994, staying there for three years. He made his debut for Wales the following year, representing his country until 2007.

With 100 appearances, he was the Welsh Rugby Union’s most capped player until 2011, when Stephen Jones received the accolade.

Played for Wales at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and played in four tournaments in total

Played for Wales at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and played in four tournaments in total

The full-back was the second highest try scorer for Wales, behind Shane Williams and the captain of his country, and several club teams.

At club level, Thomas played for Bridgend, Cardiff RFC, Celtic Warriors, Cardiff Blues and French side Toulouse.

During his time in France, he was found guilty of assault in 2005. Two years later he was banned from the game for four weeks on misconduct charges.

While still playing in France, he suffered a major health scare after a neck injury. He was later rushed to hospital and was suspected to have suffered a stroke, with fears the impact on his health could have led to his retirement.

After marrying childhood sweetheart Jemma in 2002, the couple struggled with relationship issues.

Thomas said he “knew I was gay” at age 16 or 17, but didn’t come to terms with it until years later.

She admitted that he had cheated on her several times, insisting that she always practiced safe sex when she slept with men.

Thomas was part of ITV's broadcast team for the World Cup in Japan in 2019

Thomas was part of ITV’s broadcast team for the World Cup in Japan in 2019

The couple were married for five years, during which time Jemma suffered three miscarriages. They separated in 2007 with the divorce finalized in 2009.

Thomas continued to play rugby until 2011, when he broke his arm. After missing two months, he announced his retirement from the sport in October of that year.

Since coming out in 2009, Thomas has worked with numerous charities including ChildLine, Terrance Higgins Trust and Stonewall.

He was an ITV rugby pundit during the 2011, 2015 and 2019 World Cups.

In January 2012 he entered the Celebrity Big Brother House, finishing in the final three.

A year later she appeared on Dancing On Ice, when she partnered with pro skater Robin Johnstone.

Thomas is pictured taking part in Dancing On Ice in January 2013 alongside fellow skater Robin Johnstone

Thomas is pictured taking part in Dancing On Ice in January 2013 alongside fellow skater Robin Johnstone

It was around the time that a film was to be made about Thomas’ life. Actor Tom Hardy was supposed to play Thomas, but the film later flopped.

Her autobiography Proud was published in 2015, which gave harrowing details about her battle with her sexuality.

In November 2018 he was assaulted in Cardiff city center in a homophobic attack. He took to social media to share his ordeal and called for South Wales Police to deal with the 16-year-old suspect through restorative justice.

In September 2019, he became the first major British sports star to come out as HIV-positive.

She said she has been living with the virus for “years” and also revealed that she is now remarried to a man named Stephen, 56.

Her husband is HIV-free and the couple live in Bridgend, South Wales, with Stephen’s daughter Anna, 23.

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