The New Zealand All Blacks are famous for the All Black strip – emblazoned with the silver fern.
But they have shown their true colours in a recently released video showing the players wearing specially designed ‘rainbow’ jerseys.
The All Blacks, along with female counterparts the Black Ferns, are shown in the clip entering a stadium in Osaka, Japan and preparing for a game, however a narrator says it’s no typical rugby match.
“The next battle is different,” he says. “The next enemy is truly formidable and deeply devious.
“It is discrimination – an enemy that cannot be fought alone and must be defeated together. It will take more than 15 – it will take thousands – millions.”
At the end of the clip, the rugby players reveal the rainbow colours on their black kits, after they stretched the fabric, which then turns from black into a number of different colours.
The release of the video comes after Wallaby star Israel Folau earlier this month answered an Instagram user by declaring gay people were “ headed for HELL … unless they repent of their sins and turn to God”.
Openly gay athlete Simon Dunn was one to respond to Folau with a sweet photo of him kissing his partner on the footy field.
The Australian-born former bobsledder shared a photo of himself kissing his boyfriend Felix after a rugby match victory. The couple play together for inclusive London team the Kings Cross Steelers.
Rugby Australia opted not to sanction Folau but individual New Zealand players, such as Brad Weber and TJ Perenara, have condemned his comments.
Perenara castigated Folau for his stance on the gay community, adding that “there is not justification for such harmful comments”.
Perenara and some of his Waikato Chiefs teammates wore rainbow laces in last Saturday’s Super Rugby game against the Queensland Reds in support of people in same-sex relationships.
Let it go on record that I am 100% against the comments that were made by Israel. It was not ok to say that. It’s not an attitude I want to see in the game I love. There is no justification for such harmful comments.
— Tj Perenara (@Tj_Perenara) April 18, 2018
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the organisation had made a call after some difficult moments two to three years ago ‘‘that we could actually be at the forefront of societal change’’.
He said the response by those who chose to comment on Folau’s position, including former All Black great Sir Michael Jones, was done really well and ‘‘we didn’t need everyone jumping into the conversation’’.
“The key thing is that we walk the talk isn’t it, that we do present rugby from the community level right to the high end – the lead athletes – as a welcoming and inclusive sport,” Tew said.
“We are launching a thing called The Rugby Way, which we hope will give people a framework for our behaviour in any context, whether it’s the way we respond to a referee, the way we respond to someone with a different ethnicity or religious beliefs and that is a respectful and inclusive way.”