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Gay Rugby Ref Shrugs Off Antigay Tweet

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Gay rugby referee Nigel Owens (pictured) says he finds no insult in homophobic comments posted by a friend of his, Welsh international rugby star Jonathan Thomas, on Twitter.

According to The Independent, Thomas posted the comments Wednesday morning during a Twitter exchange with Ian Evans, one of his teammates at the Welsh club Ospreys. The club is home to Gareth Thomas (no relation), who became the first professional rugby player in Britain to come out in December.

Evans tweeted, "Legs and ass are in bits, can't move." Thomas replied: "U gotta stop hanging round with Nigel Owens!"

The Independent continued, "Evans then made an apology of sorts on behalf of Thomas: 'For those ppl [people] who got the wrong end of the stick ... it was from our savage training day yesterday, sorry about my friend fellow ppl.'"

Owens, the referee who came out in 2007, told The Independent that he found "nothing malicious" in what Thomas posted, although he would ask the players about it.

"It's probably just tongue-in-cheek, something they said without thinking about it," he said, according to the newspaper. "If it had been other players that I didn't know so well then maybe I might think, 'Hang on a minute', but with those two there's definitely no issues.'"

Thomas has since apologized for his remark in a public statement. His comments arrive as homophobia is under scrutiny in British football. The Football Association this week delayed the screening of a film intended to discourage homophobic chanting and insults by football fans.

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