Crowd numbers were said to be almost as big as this year’s Bingham Cup final at the 2012 Purchas Cup, held on Sunday in Brisbane.
Considered a great success for the game and community, perfect weather provided ideal conditions for the three games played between the Brisbane Hustlers, Melbourne Chargers and Bingham and Nicholson Cup winners, the Sydney Convicts.
The Convicts were the sporting victors on the day, however the event itself was said to be a victory for the LGBTI community as a whole.
With homophobia within Australian sport still making headlines, the success and subsequent mainstream coverage of the Purchas Cup – and gay rugby in general – is believed to be vital in combating it.
“Sport is an important part of the fight against oppressive discrimination that damages the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians every day,” Convicts president David Whittaker told the Star Observer.
“It’s great that rugby is leading the way in challenging bigotry and intolerance but there’s always more that can be done.”
The amount of support being shown by the peak Australian Union body, state and local bodies, and even the Prime Minister is vital to the longevity of gay rugby and proves Australia can lead by example, according to Whittaker.
“The support we receive from the sport is crucial to our success. Sadly for some international gay rugby clubs, support from the sport has not always been as readily offered as in Australia,” he said.
Brisbane Hustler’s President Charles Gregory was genuinely surprised at the amount of unconditional support offered by the several Union bodies. He knew that they would be supportive overall but the extent to which the Hustler’s local club and Queensland Rugby went to completely amazed Gregory.
“Easts Rugby have supported us despite us coming in half way through the season (and without having formed a team!), as have the QRU who advertised the event on their website and whose President and Wallaby legend, Tony Shaw, attended the event, did a speech, and was extremely supportive of us from the beginning. “ Gregory told the Star Observer.
For a team that only reformed four months ago, the Brisbane Hustlers managed a surprising second placing and amazed players and spectators alike.
What impressed Whittaker even more was that the Cup was the Hustler’s first actual game.
“They had a host of guys who played very well for the whole day, some exciting talent. It’s a brilliant effort when you consider that nine of their players played their first ever game of rugby on Saturday,” he said.
Melbourne Chargers President Sam Minter was also quite taken aback by the skill and power shown by the relatively inexperienced Hustlers.
“The Hustlers played a few realy strong matches – their scrum and likeout were very solid and they can make attacking runs from just about everywhere. They’ll do really well next year and we’re looking forward to seeing them down here in Melbourne.” Minter told the Star Observer.