The All Blacks and Black Ferns have sent a strong message on diversity on Tuesday morning, with the release of an ad aimed at tackling discrimination.
The ad, in conjunction New Zealand Rugby's major sponsor AIG, features All Blacks and Black Ferns running into a stadium in Japan, and tugging on their jerseys to reveal the black fabric is made of all of the colours of the rainbow, in front of a crowd waving rainbow flags.
It ends with the tagline 'Diversity is Strength' and is reportedly linked with a new initiative called 'The Rugby Way', which NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew said on New Zealand radio was a framework for behaviour.
The ad's release comes just three weeks after a controversial Instagram comment from Wallabies star Israel Folau suggested God's plan for gay people was 'HELL...unless they repent their sins and turn to God'.
Folau was not sanctioned by Rugby Australia over his social media comments and a follow-up column on website, PlayersVoice, but a number of New Zealand players have spoken out against him.
Though the ad doesn't directly criticise Folau, it comes after comments from Chiefs halfback Brad Weber and Hurricanes nine TJ Perenara condemning Folau's views on Twitter.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said earlier in the week that he was proud of Perenara for speaking up about the issue.
"I thought what he did tweet was on the money, that it’s okay to be who you are,” he said.
“You’re a good human being regardless of whether you’re a gay person, a straight person.
“His words were good, he gave a strong message to those young people in the circumstances that they could be fighting and worrying about their own identities.”