Australia finally has some silverware on the rugby union mantelpiece, but it’s come from a surprising source.
The Sydney Convicts won the world cup of gay rugby, the Bingham Cup, in Sydney on the weekend, defeating the Brisbane Hustlers 31-0.
It’s the fourth time the Sydneysiders have won since the tournament, named after American PR exec Mark Bingham, an openly gay rugby player who died after storming the cockpit of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, since it began 13 years ago.
The 3-day competition attracted 24 teams from 15 countries, including three Sydney teams, and nearly 1000 visitors to the city. It’s the first time the Bingham Cup has been held in the southern hemisphere.
A record 6000 people watched the final, including communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, US ambassador John Berry, rugby league legend Steve Mortimer and Olympic gold medallist Daniel Kowalski.
There are 62 gay rugby teams globally and The Sydney Convicts are by far the most successful.
The Melbourne Chargers won the runner up prize, the Bingham Plate, and the New Zealand Falcons won the lower-tier competition, the Bingham Bowl, in their debut appearance at the tournament. The Sydney Convicts C team were runner-up in the lower-tier.
In the lead up to the competition Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver announced new policies to address homophobia in his sport.
Bingham Cup organisers have also commissioned the first international study on homophobia in sport, being conducted pro bono by sports research firm Repucom in partnership with researchers at six universities. The results are due later this year.
Sydney Convicts captain Steve Thorne said winning at home meant everything.
“We have been travelling every two years for a decade to other countries to
play and so to win on our home turf in front a massive crowd is really beyond anything we could have dreamed would come true,” he said.
The full results from the weekend are here.
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