THE success of last year’s Bingham Cup gay rugby union tournament, held in Sydney, has been officially recognised with the organisers last night taking home the trophy for NSW’s sports event of the year.

The award comes as Australia’a home-grown Bingham Cup champions – the Sydney Convicts – announce they will be holding an open day for new players this weekend.

The Bingham Cup’s achievement is more remarkable as it is the first time an LGBTI event has won at the NSW Sports Awards, although openly-gay diver Matthew Mitcham was crowned athlete of the year in 2008 while swimmer Ian Thorpe took out the same medal no less than three times.

The awards, held last night in north west Sydney and organised by industry body Sports NSW, recognise the achievements of the state’s leading athletes, teams, administrators, volunteers and organisations.

Sports Minister Stuart Ayres said: “The NSW Sport Awards recognise and acknowledge the hard work and outstanding achievements in high performance and community sport across NSW”.

The Bingham Cup beat competition from the Australian University Games and the Central Coast Sevens.

Held in Sydney for the first time last year, the Bingham Cup is the world’s premier gay rugby union competition.

The 2014 tournament attracted 700 players in 30 teams from 15 countries and contributed over $4 million to Sydney’s economy.

The event was also a catalyst for Australia’s five major sporting codes to sign up to anti-homophobia and inclusion initiatives while a global survey, backed by Bingham Cup, on LGBTI participation in sport will be released in the coming months.

Bingham Cup Sydney president Andrew Purchas said it was “fantastic” the event had been given the top gong.

“Australia’s sporting culture is amazingly rich and it is a real honour for a GLBTI sporting event to be recognised in this way,” he said.

“Historically our community is not known for its involvement in the sporting landscape.

“This is a pity as sexuality is irrelevant in determining our ability or desire to actively participate in all forms of sport.”

Last weekend, Bingham Cup champions the Sydney Convicts went down 38-24 against the Melbourne Chargers at AAMI Park in what was billed as the first time two gay rugby teams had competed as part of a professional sporting event.

The Convicts will be holding an open day this Saturday from 4pm at Sydney’s Centennial Park for prospective players to find out more about the club. Details: https://www.facebook.com/sydneyconvicts

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