The Sydney Convicts celebrated their triumphant Bingham Cup tour of the UK in Sydney last week with some of rugby’s greatest players.

The boys partied at the Midnight Shift and had beers at Kinselas with rugby union legends Mark Ella, Nick Farr-Jones and Phil Waugh.

Captain of the Bingham Cup winning Convicts A side, Steve Thorne, expressed his delight at the chance to meet his rugby heroes.

“Phil, Nick and Mark are absolute rock stars and to see them turn up to celebrate with us is just unbelievable, it says a lot about them as people and the game of rugby,” Thorne said.

Convicts president Dave Whittaker said the ongoing community and local business support for the team had been overwhelming.

“The Sydney Convicts are very grateful for the support of the Midnight Shift and Kinselas. They have made a very important contribution to our Bingham Cup tour and the welcome home events they have staged for us have been sensational,” Whittaker said.

“The Convicts have received tremendous support from the rugby community, including Woollahra Colleagues [Football Club], New South Wales Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby Union. There is powerful symbolism of having Nick, Mark and Phil speaking in support of gay rugby and diversity in sport.”

Bingham Cup 2012 Player of the Tournament James Saunders said the presence of such high stature players sent a great message that being gay was not a barrier to sport, especially one as traditionally homophobic as rugby.

“I had the honour of meeting one of my heroes. Not only is Mark a legend in the Indigenous community, but he is admired and respected by the wider Australian community,” Saunders said.

“Mark was the first Indigenous person in Australia to captain a national side, he and his family were breaking down barriers in a number of ways. His story inspires me today to stand tall and break down stereotypes of gay men.”

Whittaker said the team is hoping to stage the Bingham Cup in Sydney in 2014 with more than 40 teams and 1200 rugby players from 15 countries expected.

INFO: Images from the Sydney Convicts celebratory event can be seen here.

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