SYDNEYSIDERS hoping for a fling with one of the hundreds of gay rugby players currently in town for the Bingham Cup this week would be well advised to give members of US team, the Royal Bucks, a wide berth.
But the romantic Royals may have a battle to get to the top of the loved-up league with a Colorado Rush player revealing he plans to move in with a former team mate who’s emigrated to Sydney – a decision the starry-eyed softie made just minutes after bumping into him again at a Bingham Cup social this week.
In the last six months, wedding invites have been thick and fast between players of the Royal Bucks – an amalgam of the Charlotte Royals and the Atlanta Bucks gay rugby teams.
Jamal and David Herrera-O’Malley tied the knot in Washington DC in April – a favourite destination for Royals players given same-sex marriage is not legal in both home cities.
“His best man was a winger, my best man was an inside centre so it was definitely a rugby wedding,” Jamal said.
The couple met two years previously with Jamal recalling that David “was this little soccer player running around and I was like, oh my God, this boy is fast. He was cute but he was too skinny for me”.
“I was a lot scrawnier. I needed to get big and he needed to get small,” David said.
“And now look at him,” interrupted Jamal, “he’s sexy.”
Starting out as best friends, it was their fellow players who could see a bond forming.
“It took eight months before started going, wait a minute, there’s a little more to this,” Jamal said.
“But every other team figured it out. They kept saying, ‘uh huh, they’re together’ and when we made it official they were like, ‘it’s about time’.”
The couple’s wedding was themed green in a nod to David’s Irish heritage and while his adopted US family stayed away (“they disowned me for being gay,” he said), Jamal’s family have embraced their new son-in-law.
The trip to Sydney is also the pair’s honeymoon and, on the pitch, they remain inseparable: “Now he’s my eight man and he’s my scrum half so we’re right next to each other.”
Jeff Enochs and Brian Helms, from Atlanta, have been married for eight years and have been going out with Bucks team mate Craig Maxwell for the last 12 months.
“Brian dragged me onto the field to play and then we met Craig at a rugby tournament last year,” Jeff said.
Craig has since moved in with the married couple to add to the wedded bliss. Luckily, it’s a big place.
“We have four bedrooms,” Craig said, “but our one king bed works just fine.”
Her players’ seeming obsession to cohabitate has been a cause for some concern for Royal Bucks coach Amanda Vestal, but then she’s in Sydney with her wife, too.
“She doesn’t promote hooking up between the team members, but when people meet, and she sees it works, she’s so happy for them,” her spouse Erin Goldstein said.
Amanda added: “I’m just glad they all get along.”
The pair legally married in December and then “under God” at their synagogue in March.
“Our wedding consisted of our families and our second family,” Amanda said, pointing at the team.
“They’d do anything for me and I’d do anything for them.”
But the reward for whirlwind romance surely goes to Jeremy Ballard and David Adams of Colorado, even though it’s been several years in the making.
The pair, who live on different continents, decided to finally make a go of it this week after a chance meeting more than two years after their paths last crossed.
“We just met again 20 minutes ago,” Jeremy said, grinning.
The Colorado Rush player, and David, a former team mate, initially started dating in the US. However, David then moved to Australia.
“We were trying to make it work but Perth, at 10,000 miles away, is the farthest you can get from Denver. It’s hard to maintain a relationship,” he said.
“I didn’t know he was coming [to the Bingham Cup] as I’m not on Facebook, and I almost didn’t come today.
“But I thought I’d go down because even if he wasn’t there I knew other people on the team and they could say hi to him [from me].”
Jeremy said: “I yelled at him because he was walking past and finally he looked over.
“He’s going to be gracious and let me stay with him so I don’t have to stay in a hotel.”
But hadn’t he already got a hotel?
“Well, kind of, but whatever, he’s more important,” Jeremy responded.
After the chance meeting it’s now full steam ahead, according to Jeremy.
“We just need to make this happen. Why else would we bump into each other all the way on the other side of the world? And the Wallabies are my favourite team… the stars are telling us something,” he said.
“Why not be in a cool city with the most amazing person in the world?”
Jeremy said he hoped to continue his studies in Sydney to be with David and there are even mutterings of a wedding – although in New Zealand.
“And then we can be on those marriage equality ads,” David said.
“Yer” chipped in Jeremey, “the two Americans fighting for Australian equality.”
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