CLEAR skies and great conditions proved to be the perfect backdrop for an upset victory in last weekend’s Purchas Cup by the Brisbane Hustlers over the Sydney Convicts.

Last Saturday, Ballymore Stadium — the home of the Queensland Reds rugby union team — hosted the annual gay and inclusive rugby union Purchas Cup in a taste of what the country could expect when Sydney hosts the Bingham Cup later this year.

For the first time, the competition featured players from four teams making the 2014 tournament the largest in the ten year history of the Australian gay and inclusive Rugby Union championship.

Teams from the Sydney Convicts, Melbourne Chargers, Brisbane Hustlers and a team comprising of all the teams’ reserves and four players from the New Zealand Falcons, the Barbarians, faced off with each other in a hard-fought competition played in front of family members, partners friends and supporters.

The home team caused a 12-5 upset win over the competition favourites in a match where the outcome almost changed in the remaining minutes of the game.

“A great result for the Brisbane Hustlers, and a great weekend for gay rugby! Our team worked so hard for the win, beating the Convicts and winning the Purchas Cup for the first time is a huge achievement,” Hustlers’ co-vice president Martin Tebbutt said.

“It is great to chalk up that first win in such a big year with the Bingham Cup being held in Sydney in late August, and sends a message to all of the competing teams that we will be a force to be reckoned with.”

The founder of the tournament and the Sydney Convicts, Andrew Purchas, commented on the rate at which gay rugby in Australia is growing and the mainstream coverage and support it has received of late.

“The quality, depth and standard of gay rugby in Australia continues to grow…I would also like to thank the Rebels, Waratahs, Reds and the Australian Rugby Union for their continued support of the gay rugby clubs,” he said.

“We are very fortunate to have such solid support from all tiers of the rugby family.”

Player of the tournament went to Melbourne Chargers’ Arnaud Kamtcheu, who thanked his team for welcoming the native Frenchman into the team and Australian gay rugby union for allowing him to be himself and continuing to challenge stereotypes of the community.

“The biggest surprise for me was the quality of the rugby that is being played. I have played rugby since I was 10 years old and never joined a gay rugby team because I always assumed gay rugby clubs were less competitive,” he said.

“I’ve really enjoyed playing with the Melbourne Chargers…because for once in my life I don’t need to filter what I say and pretend that I’m something that I am not.”

Convicts President David Whittaker said while his team was disappointed with the loss, they were amazed with the quality displayed by a team that reformed a relatively short time ago.

“The Hustlers deserve full credit for reforming the club just two years ago and winning the Australian Cup of Gay Rugby,” he said.

“The Convicts will be working very hard over the next 6 months in the lead-up to the Bingham Cup in August to ensure we keep the Cup in Sydney.It will be very exciting to watch gay and inclusive rugby take yet another step up in quality and skill level at the event and will certainly be a great party.”

The Bingham Cup starts in Sydney on August 24-31 and organisers are hoping to raise funds for the cup and its efforts in educating the wider community about challenging stereotypes surrounding gay men and combating homophobia in sport.

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