THE Bingham Cup is almost upon us, and even rugby union’s biggest players are getting excited.
Sometimes known as the “World Cup” of gay rugby union, the event will see almost 25 teams from all around the world converge on Sydney to compete over three days in late August for the coveted silver trophy.
Not only is it the first time that Australia will host the tournament, but earlier this year Bingham Cup Sydney organisers helped achieve another historic feat — getting Australia’s five major sporting codes to sign the Anti-homophobia and Inclusion Framework policy to eradicate homophobia from within their sports.
Several big names from all codes — AFL, NRL, Australian Rugby Union (ARU), Football Federation Australia and Cricket Australia — have also come forward as either Bingham Cup ambassadors or supporters.
Among them are the Wallabies’ Adam Ashley-Cooper, who is also an official ambassador, and NSW Waratah’s Israel Folau (pictured above).
For Ashley-Cooper, he became an ambassador because the issue of homophobia was close to home.
“I have friends and family who are gay,” he told the Star Observer.
“I find it hard to believe that people still feel unwelcome in rugby or any other sport because of their sexuality.
“We need to change the sporting culture in Australia and around the world and make sure everyone feels included and safe.”
He added that he was proud to be taking on a leadership role to help end discrimination, and was also a big fan of the Convicts, Sydney’s gay rugby team and Bingham Cup defending champions.
“I’m personally a long-time supporter of… the great work they are doing to challenge stereotypes and perceptions of gay people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bingham Cup organisers said having Folau on board as supporter was a coup, as he is regarded as one of Australia’s best sportsmen and has previously played top-grade rugby leage and Aussie Rules football.
“Israel is a strong advocate for ending all forms of discrimination in sport,” a Bingham Cup spokesman said.
“He does a lot of work in that space with the other big name star who plays rugby leauge: Greg Inglis.”
Both natives of Sydney, Folau and Ashley-Cooper said they would be barracking for the Convicts to win the tournament.
The Star Observer is a proud media partner of the 2014 Bingham Cup Sydney, to be held August 24–31. Details: www.binghamcup.com
(Image credit: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)
FULL LIST OF TEAMS:
Amsterdam Lowlanders RC Amsterdam
Chicago Dragons RFC Chicago
Nashville Grizzles RFC Nashville
Atlanta Bucks RFC Atlanta
Boston Ironsides RFC Boston
Charleston Blockade RFC Charleston
Charlotte Royals RFC Charlotte
Gotham Knights RFC New York
Muddy York RFC Toronto
Ottawa Wolves RFC Ottawa
Philadelphia Gryphons RFC Philadelphia
Los Angeles Rebellion Rugby Los Angeles
Phoenix Storm RFC Phoenix
San Francisco Fog RFC San Francisco
Brisbane Hustlers RUFC Brisbane
Melbourne Chargers RUFC Melbourne
New Zealand Falcons RFC Auckland
Sydney Convicts RUFC Sydney
Emerald Warriors RFC Dublin
Kings Cross Steelers RFC London
Village Spartans RUFC Manchester
New England Valkyries Rugby Football Club Boston
World-wide Barbarians Worldwide
**This article first appeared in the brand new August issue of the Star Observer, which is still available in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra. Click here to find out where you can grab your free copy.