Several Hurricanes players donned rainbow bootlaces to show support for the LGBT+ community during last week’s win over the Blues at Eden Park.
Michael Fatialofa, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara and Blade Thomson all wore the rainbow laces, with TJ Perenara sharing a photo on his Instagram page with the caption “more than a game”.
This comes after Waratahs fullback Israel Folau made claims on social media that gay people were destined for “hell” and hasn’t apologised over his stance.
In recent weeks TJ Perenara has also taken to the streets to collect donations for LGBT+ youth organizations, Rainbow Youth and InsideOUT with the NZ Falcons, a gay and inclusive rugby team traveling to Amsterdam to compete in the Bingham Cup in June.
TJ Perenara says equality as a whole was something he was incredibly supportive of regardless of what sexuality people are.
“Equality is important to me in all honesty so it’s not just that issue I think equality in general is something I'm pretty staunch on”, Said Perenara.
“I grew up with people who now identify in the rainbow community and I’ve got family members who do as well, It is personal for me but even if I didn’t I would still feel the same”.
Despite this TJ Perenara says he would never force his teammates or other people to believe in the same things he did.
“I’d never push my values on anyone else or force anyone to do anything, I think if people feel like it’s the right thing for them to do then go out and do that”.
“But then again I made my statement because it was important to me and it’s something I felt like I needed to do”.
TJ Perenara also says he has no inclination to sit down with Israel Folau and talk about the comments he has made.
“It’s not something that I'm going to out on the field and say bro lets go over there and have a chat, I don’t have any strong feelings to go and sit down and talk with him.
Blade Thomson was another player to wear the rainbow laces and says he was happy to take up the offer from TJ Perenara to wear them.
“He said would you be willing to wear them and I said yup, I'm just all about you be yourself and do what you want to do, what makes you happy”, Said Blade Thomson.
“It’s your life, you do what you want to do with it, and you are always going to have people not agreeing with what you want to do but you just go about doing your own thing”.
The Hurricanes won’t play the Waratahs this season; however, the All Blacks will play the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium in the first Bledisloe test on the 18th of August.