MELBOURNE Rebels scrumhalf Luke Burgess will join gay rugby union team the Melbourne Chargers as a community ambassador, promoting both the team and greater acceptance and visibility of same-sex attracted people in sport.

Burgess, who formerly played for the Wallabies national team, will join the Chargers as a mentor at training sessions and represent the club in the broader community.

“I think that the Chargers are a great team to be involved with. Clearly, plenty of people have decided that Rugby is a sport for all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or in this case sexual orientation,” Burgess said.

“My wife and kids spent plenty of time in France, where there are six Clubs who are members of the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB), so the concept is not at all new or surprising to me.”

Chargers coach Neil Hay welcomed Burgess’ involvement with the team, and hoped the involvement of a high-profile player will provide a boost to the Chargers’ goals of promoting diversity in sport.

“We’re really excited to have Luke on board. He is a great guy to have around the team and at training. To have a Wallaby helping you coach your side is just incredible and a wonderful opportunity for myself and our players,” said Hay.

The Chargers and other Australian gay rugby teams are preparing to compete in the biennial Bingham Cup, an international gay rugby union competition to be held in Sydney in August.

This is the first year the Bingham Cup will be hosted in Australia since it was founded in 2002.

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