THE Sydney Convicts gay rugby union teams have taken out both divisions of this year’s Purchas Cup after a grueling day of competition.
The Convicts faced stiff competition in the form of the Melbourne Chargers, Brisbane Hustlers, World Barbarians and previous title holders the New Zealand Falcons to go on to win both the second grade Purchas Shield and first grad Purchas Cup at the tournament played in Rose Bay on Saturday.
The win caps off a turbulent year for the Convicts who won the Halligan Cup just two weeks ago, but missed out on taking home the silverware at the Bingham Cup in Nashville earlier this year, losing to bitter rivals the Chargers.
“It was fantastic having the tournament back in Sydney for the first time in 10 years,” Andrew Purchas, founder of the Convicts and tournament namesake said.
“It is very pleasing that it has been used to assist the development and growth of gay rugby around Australia and New Zealand. The standard of rugby this year was fantastic and reflects Melbourne Chargers, Brisbane Hustlers and Sydney Convicts being the three of the strongest gay rugby clubs in the world.
“However, the weekend was about more than just rugby. The Chargers vs Convicts ‘drag-off’ on Saturday night set the Shift on Fire not to the mention the famous Rugger Bugger show. Whoever said rugby players can’t dance?”
Don Rose, president of the Sydney Convicts, said the success of winning the Cup could be put down to the hard work of the players and coaches.
“2016 has been a huge year for the club with training starting way back in January, a tour to USA for the Bingham Cup and a Grand Final win for our 1st Grade in the Halligan Cup two weeks ago.
“All the players have worked really hard this year but most importantly have really enjoyed being out on the field with their mates playing fun, running rugby. I think because of the great morale and camaraderie in the club, the boys were able to dig deep to bring home the silverware on Saturday.
“The tournament was a huge success and a great weekend both on and off the field. We had close to 400 people participate in and watch the six teams compete across the day. The standard of rugby was both competitive and enjoyable to watch in every match.”
Rose said there was a number of positives to come out from tournaments like the Purchas Cup, including giving some of the developing gay and inclusive clubs the opportunity to play a tournament at a level where they are potentially more competitive.
“As a community it is a great opportunity for us all to get together play some footy and have a few sneaky beers whilst making new mates and re-acquainting with old ones,” he said.
“It also provides a spotlight in our broader rugby communities to bring attention to ensuring our game and sport is as inclusive as it can be, just last week we saw a story of a former player and coach at a neighbouring Sydney Shute Shield Competition club who had spent all of his time there in the closet. This shows that despite the enormous strides both Rugby and the sporting community have made, there is still work to be done.”