Monday, July 5, 2010

International Football - No, Not That One, Or Even That Other One: Rugby!

Though the World Cup soccer tournament has captured most folks' attention, the US recently hosted another international sporting event: the Bingham Cup tournament. This is the international competition for gay ruggers. The competition was held in Minneapolis near the end of June.

(In Europe, 'football' is the term used for soccer, because soccer is so popular there it gets the more generic name. In America, 'football' refers to American Football, so 'soccer,' which is short for 'association football,' is used. 'Rugby' is the universal term for 'rugby football.')

The Bingham Cup is a biannual international, non-professional, gay rugby union tournament, first convened in 2002. The tournament was named after Mark Bingham, a former University of California, Berkeley, rugby player. Mark Bingham died in the September 11, 2001 attacks on board United Airlines Flight 93.

North Carolina sports a few rugby teams, and has even had players go to the Bingham Cup.

This year in Minneapolis, the Mayhem Rugby Football Club (RFC) hosted the tournament.

The Bingham Cup was first hosted by the San Francisco Fog RFC, Mark Bingham’s home team. That year, eight teams traveled to California to compete over two days with Fog RFC coming out on top as the tournament’s first winners. With each of the following tournaments, The Bingham Cup has become progressively bigger and better.

The Bingham Cup tournament has been hosted by Fog RFC (San Francisco), King’s Cross Steelers RFC (London), Gotham Knights RFC (New York), Emerald Warriors RFC (Dublin), and now

Winners from this year's competition were:
  • Cup Division – New York Gotham Knights RFC (A)
  • Plate Division – Los Angeles Rebellion RFC
  • Bowl Division – Sydney Convicts RFC (B)
  • Shield Division – Ireland Emerald Warriors RFC
  • Crest Division – Phoenix Storm RFC
Here're a few pictures from the competition, as well as a brief introduction to rugby vocabulary:

A scrum:

A tackle:

A line out:

A couple of group shots:

A couple of action shots:

Rugby culture is generally very gay-friendly. Rugby is incredibly butch and it's incredibly gay, in ways that overlap and in ways that are totally different. If you've always wanted to play sports but have been worried about homophobia, rugby is the way to go. Even putatively straight rugby teams are gay-positive.

Rugby is a great kind of gateway sport for the inclusion and openness of gay athletes.