Gay rugby league player Gareth Thomas is said to be delighted at the Rugby Football League’s decision to fine Castleford Tigers after its fans shouted homophobic abuse at him.

The incident happened in March during Thomas’ second game for the Crusaders after switching from union.

Yesterday, Tigers were fined £40,000 for their fans’ actions.

Thomas’ manager Emanuele Palladino issued a statement congratulating the RFL on taking the strong stance.

“Today has been an historic day,” he said. “Gareth Thomas is all about delivering positive messages and positive changes and, to that end, today was a huge step forward for Gareth and the world of sport.

“It is not about the fine, but rather recognition that this behaviour from a small section of the Castleford fans is not acceptable in 2010.

“Unfortunately, what happened at Castleford could not be ignored. We are delighted that the RFL have taken action against what is a serious and upsetting incident for all parties.

“Their stance makes it clear that behaviour like this is not, and should not be acceptable in the world we live in today.”

Castleford chief executive Richard Wright said he was “shocked and disappointed” at the fine and said the club would appeal it.

He said: “The evidence does not support the decision and does not in any way support the scale of the penalty. We totally refute the outcome of the hearing.”

The club must pay £20,000 of the money now with half suspended until 2011. They must also pay £20,000 from an earlier suspended fine.

Thomas came out as gay in December.

Speaking in May, he described how he felt at hearing the match slurs.

“It wasn’t very nice and I was pretty hurt by what I could hear,” he said. “I’m only human and I can’t deny I was hurt. . . I’ve been told there were people in the crowd telling those chanting to shut up.

“Perhaps we need to go through this so that those few people realise no one else will stand for it and then it hopefully won’t happen to the next person who comes out.”