Danny Cipriani and rugby teammates to make match tribute to Caroline Flack

By Lucy Mapstone and Sherna Noah, PA

Rugby player Danny Cipriani and his Gloucester teammates will pay tribute to Caroline Flack at their next Gallagher Premiership match.

The sports star, who has said he is “grieving hard” following the death of his ex-partner, will lead his teammates in wearing black armbands for Friday’s home game against the Sale Sharks.

The armbands will be embossed with the words “Be kind” to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Cipriani, 32, dated Flack – who took her own life at the age of 40 earlier this month – last year.

Caroline Flack (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He said: “Caroline was one of the most caring, genuine people I ever met.

“She endured unimaginable criticism during her years in the public eye but through it all, she just wanted people to show a little kindness to each other. And that’s a message that should be her legacy – be kind.

“We all have spells of self-doubt, anxiety and low points. Nobody needs other people to point out their flaws and make them feel worse about themselves. A little kindness goes a long way.”

The Gloucester Rugby Foundation has also teamed up with the Samaritans to heighten the awareness around mental health.

They will donate £5 from every ticket purchased for Friday’s match to the Gloucester and District Samaritans.

The match tribute comes after Cipriani shared a message Flack had sent him about the court case she was facing before her death.

An exchange with Caroline Flack shared by Danny Cipriani (Danny Cipriani/Instagram)

On Wednesday he posted a screenshot on Instagram of a recent WhatsApp exchange between the pair.

After Flack said she was “OK”, Cipriani asked: “Why you just OK? Want you smiling”.

The Love Island host replied: “Well, got court case coming up.”

Flack stepped down from presenting the winter series of the ITV2 dating show after an alleged assault on her boyfriend, Lewis Burton.

She pleaded not guilty and was released on bail but was ordered to stop having any contact with Mr Burton ahead of a trial, which was due to begin in March.

“She wasn’t allowed to talk to her boyfriend throughout the case because of the law. He wanted the charges dropped. They wanted to pursue. I am not pointing fingers,” Cipriani said.

“The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and police do a good job. Just saying we can’t always do a good job. This is my grieving process.”

Cipriani said Flack’s nickname for him was Black Dot and “she was kind beyond belief”.

He had previously told his fans he was going to play a voice note Flack “left about 15 days ago because people need to hear it”.

Flack’s management company have criticised the CPS for pursuing a “show trial” with the TV host’s assault charge.

The CPS later outlined how it reaches decisions over whether or not to charge someone with a criminal offence.

Hours after Cipriani’s post on social media, Flack’s friend, TV presenter and writer Dawn O’Porter, tweeted: “Can we all just agree that posting Caroline’s personal texts is a massive betrayal?

“Please consider that if for some reason you are thinking of doing it. She’d absolutely hate it.”

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan also recently shared a private message sent to him by Flack regarding actress and former T4 host Jameela Jamil.

Morgan tweeted: “Jameela Jamil is having a lot to say about online harassment, so in the interests of balance, here is a message Caroline Flack sent me last October after the same Jameela Jamil led an online pile-on against her regarding a new TV show she was doing.”

The message appeared to show Flack saying “I’m struggling with Jameela.. The hate she aims at me.”

Flack’s message was thought to be referring to Jamil’s criticism of a Channel 4 programme she was part of called The Surjury, which featured people pitching ideas for their dream surgeries to convince a jury of peers and experts to approve their life-changing operations. Following Flack’s death, Channel 4 said it will no longer air the show.