JUST days before the whistle is blown at the first match of the gay rugby Bingham Cup tournament, players from the world’s top gay rugby teams took some time out at the Sydney Opera House yesterday to soak up a blissfully blue and bright winter’s day and chew the fat on their first impressions of the emerald city.
The Star Observer was there too, with the players confiding in us how much of a threat the Sydney Convicts really are, their first impressions of the notorious neighbourhood of King’s Cross and their plans to deal with local spiders more fearsome than their rivals.
Meanwhile, while Mark Bingham’s mum reveals her tournament tips and what she really thinks of Aussie men.
King’s Cross Steelers — London, UK
(Lee, Ian, Paul, Shaun, Ashley, Andrew, Phil)
Who is the team to beat? The Convicts — they have the home advantage and they have the experience. We’ve seen them at previous tournaments and they are obviously a well put together team.
Maybe a Steelers vs. Convicts final? No, we’d rather have someone easier to beat! We did have a final with the Convicts in Dublin and it didn’t go well. We lost.
Have you visited your Sydney namesake suburb? Yes, we’re staying in King’s Cross. People on the street keep asking us if want to see a lady. We say “If you wanna see a lady, here I am!”
What have you been up to in Sydney? We’ve done the tour bus, gone to Hyde Park and the war memorial. And we’re visiting a different restaurant for breakfast everyday — there’s certainly enough.
Sydney men – hot or not? Hot. I’ve only managed to kiss about six so far. They’re ‘noice’.
Gotham Knights – New York, US
(Kevin, Tim, Myles, Elliot, Roger, Clark, Juan and Christopher)
Who would be the dream team for you to play? We want the Convicts. Then the All Blacks would be good and, of course, the Wallabies.
What’s the plan for the next few days? Training or drinking? Training and drinking! We’ve been enjoying ourselves. Sydney is a gorgeous city. We’re here to have fun and we’re immersing in the culture and we just got back from Manly which was fabulous. But, tomorrow, we’re training.
Local blokes – hot or not? Could go either way. No! Sydney guys are hot.
Boston Ironsides – US
(Salazar, RJ, Josh, Pat, Kurt, Rob, Derek, Matthew)
Have you met any of the local wildlife? We went on a bus out to Featherdale to pet a koala. It was fun and nothing has bitten us so far.
If you saw one of our local spiders in your hotel, would you release it or just run? I would go to the front desk and demand they remove it from the room immediately and only then would I come back. Or I’d put a leash on it, hop on and ride it.
What’s the plan for Sydney? A bit of practice, a few team events, clubs and bars and maybe climb the bridge as well.
Who is the team to watch? Of course the Boston Ironsides – we’re the dark horses. We’d like a rematch against the Melbourne Chargers because they were our first loss last cup.
Muddy Armada Berserkers – Toronto, Canada / San Diego, US / Stockholm, Sweden
(Niklas, Jimmy, Tomer, Eric, Semir)
What’s the outlook for the Muddy Armada Berserkers? We’re a combination of three teams, so when we hit practice that’s going to be the big test – we don’t even know some of the people we’re going to play with!
Is bonding about sport or socialising? A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B. Rugby is as much about on the pitch as off the pitch.
What attracts gay people to rugby? It’s an inclusive sport, there’s a position for everyone but also there’s rawness to it. There’s that physicality which you don’t get from soccer and I think that attracts gay men. And rugby players are gorgeous.
What’s your favourite Aussie critter? I fell in love with wombats, they’re the cutest things. Like rugby players they’re stocky and when they run they just can’t do it properly. They’re the forwards of the animal kingdom for sure.
Coming from summer in Sweden, how are you finding winter in Sydney? It’s warm and toasty. Anything above 17 degrees is like Swedish summer. But the Australians are dressed like they’re expecting the snowpocalypse at any time.
Melbourne Chargers – Australia
(James,, Josh, and Carl; Pictured: Dominic and Ben)
Is there an extra rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne? We have a lot of ex-Convicts who’ve come down from Sydney to play with the Chargers so there’s a bit of rivalry and blood lust to defeat them. It’s almost like a Cambridge–Oxford rivalry. But you have to be scared of the Convicts.
What would winning the tournament in Sydney mean? That would add insult to injury so of course we would love to!
What’s it like hanging out from teams around the world? It’s bloody awesome to meet so many people.
Alice Hoagland (mother of Mark Bingham)
How are you enjoying Sydney? It’s wonderful. Mark’s friend Amanda is billeting me the way she did originally did with Mark in 1988. This is the closest I’ve ever been to the Sydney Opera House – it looks as wonderful close up as well as a distance.
Who are the team to watch at the Bingham? The Sydney Convicts are always very strong but the San Francisco Fog has historically been the team in the foreground as they first organised the Bingham Cup.
What are the Fog’s prospects? It’s a bunch of new guys on the team and they are working together to get that seasoning they need to be real contenders so I’d be very interested to see how they do.
Is the stereotype of the good-looking Aussie male true? Oh yes, of course! It’s a sea of blue and green eyes, lots of rippling muscles and big smiles and I just love them.
The Bingham Cup festival is now on with matches from August 28-31 in Rose Bay. Details: click here.