Rainbow Laces is an annual campaign run by LGBT charity Stonewall, to make sport everyone’s game, promote ‘acceptance without exception’ and help stamp out any abuse or bullying. It provides an opportunity for fans, players and clubs to show solidarity with the LGBT community by wearing Rainbow Laces.
Stonewall believes sport has the power to bring people together and this year had to extend the campaign from one week to three following the biggest ever show of support across UK sport. Gallagher, alongside its partner Premiership Rugby, demonstrated its solidarity this weekend with branding switched to a ‘rainbow’ version across all six Round 8 matches, Gallagher volunteers handing out free rainbow laces to fans and match official shirts and flags carrying the rainbow logo.
The youth players at Houghton Rugby Club were invited to join the special ‘Gallagher Game Day’ event hosted by Gallagher on the night — one of 12 such events the insurance broker is holding with each of the Premiership Rugby clubs across the course of the 2018/19 season. It provides local Gallagher branches with the chance to invite family, friends, and clients as well as engage with local schools and grass roots rugby representatives to celebrate the partnership as one community. Alongside the ability to get involved in and support community programmes, through its title partnership Gallagher aims to help promote rugby and its values to an even greater audience by ensuring employees and their families can attend matches around the country.
15 youth players from community club Houghton Rugby were invited by Gallagher to enjoy a money-can’t-buy experience as part of the official match day proceedings by serving as flag bearers. They formed a ‘Guard of Honour’ as the players entered onto the pitch, with a further seven children invited to become mascots for the day, standing side-by-side with their playing heroes before the start of the game. They were joined by children of colleagues and friends of Gallagher’s Newcastle office, which is located at Quayside House. All of Gallagher’s guests were there to show their support of Rainbow Laces. They joined match officials and other match-day volunteers in wearing the colourful laces on the night.
Also joining the children at Gallagher’s Game Day was Chris Simpson, Director of Rugby at Houghton Rugby Club, who was himself named in August a ‘Hero of the Game’ by Gallagher as part of its programme to celebrate the ‘off-pitch’ heroes throughout the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season.
Chris was one of 24 local community heroes — two from each Premiership club — chosen from the wider rugby community for embodying and championing the values and spirit of the game. Chris has been instrumental in taking rugby to a much broader community audience and making it more inclusive by significantly expanding the number and range of teams at Houghton Rugby Club to ensure children and adults of all age ranges and genders can play on a weekly basis.
Chris Simpson said: “The Gallagher Game Day was a fantastic experience for all the children — they absolutely loved being able to join their rugby heroes on the pitch and we’d like to thank Gallagher for giving them the opportunity. We were also pleased they could help raise awareness about the importance of inclusion in sport as part of the Rainbow Laces campaign. It fits perfectly with an important anti-bullying message which we try to instil in all our young players – never to exclude people because you view them as different to you, and making sure everyone has the confidence to be themselves.”
Frank Firth, Managing Director for Gallagher in Newcastle, said: “The Gallagher Game Day at Newcastle Falcons was a huge success and we were delighted to welcome aspiring young players from the community to enjoy the experience with us. We had an important message to share, that no matter what, we are stronger when we support each other. As the Official Title Partner of Premiership Rugby, we are keen to grow the game by making rugby an even more inclusive and empowering sport – a focus which aligns perfectly with Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign. We’d like to thank everyone for their efforts in making the evening such a huge success.”