Last night Amsterdam was the host of over 1500 gay rugby players as the city officially opened the 2018 Bingham Cup.

Hosted by Amsterdam’s own inclusive team, the Lowlanders, the Bingham Cup is a biennial international gay rugby union tournament.

The tournament was named after Mark Bingham, who played for and helped establish two gay teams in America and who was on United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11.

The games are a chance to show to the world the strength and skill of gay men and women around the world.

“We have the chance to be role models for other gay folks who wanted to play sports, but never felt good enough or strong enough,” Bingham wrote to his team.

Mark’s legacy was to show the world that gay people were just as good as them and it’s a statement that is as true now as it was when he founded the San Francisco team.

Australian LGBTI people have most recently had to listen to high-profile rugby player Israel Folau make disparaging comments about the community, which is why events like the Bingham Cup are important to showcase our strength and resilience.

Sydney Convicts President Don Rose said at the time of the Folau scandal that the comments could cause harm to gay kids playing rugby.

“Rugby’s already a hypermasculine sport and it’s extremely difficult for a player that loves the game, [who] is involved in their sport and are trying to deal with their sexuality,” he said.

It seems though that clubs from around the world are succeeding in spreading the message of an inclusive game – at the opening ceremony, players from over 60 clubs and from countries all over the world celebrated and partied into the night.

Australia is being represented by the Brisbane Hustlers, reigning champions the Melbourne Chargers, the Sydney Convicts as well as a Barbarians team made up of Aussies and Kiwis.

The Aussies have a lot to be excited for leading into the games; not only do the Chargers currently hold the cup, but the Convicts are historically the most successful club in the tournament.

The games officially start on Friday morning and will continue through to Sunday evening when the victor will get the cup.

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