Players from around the world took part in a huge training session in Sydney on Wednesday in the lead-up to the Bingham Cup, the world cup of gay rugby. As a way of showing their support for ending homophobia in sports, players and coaches from Australia's national team, the Wallabies, and Sydney's state team, the NSW Waratahs led the session. It was a sweaty and muddy spectacle as 400 players from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Amsterdam, New Zealand and other countries took part in the two-hour session on tackling, defending and passing the ball.
The Bingham Cup, which begins in Sydney this Friday, is a grueling tournament of intense rugby with 24 teams playing six games over three days. Nearly 1,000 players and supporters representing 30 gay and inclusive rugby clubs from 15 countries will be in Australia for the Biennial event, named after September 11, 2001 hero Mark Bingham.
The Bingham Cup is currently held by the event hosts, the Sydney Convicts. However, one of the strong contenders to win the cup when the games begin is London's Kings Cross Steelers, the world's first gay rugby team.
"Many people may assume that a bunch of gay guys holding a rugby tournament is just an excuse to have big party with a rugby theme, but nothing could be further from the truth," says Samreth, Captain of the San Francisco Fog RFC. The San Francisco Fog RFC hosted the first Bingham Cup in 2002, after Mark's death on Flight 93, which he helped crash into the fields of Pennsylvania.
The Bingham Cup Grand Finals can be heard live online around the world. Colourful and experienced sport commentators will bring you all the action from 11 p.m. - 5 p.m., Australian Eastern Standard Time. You can access the live stream through www.binghamcup.com.
See the training video below and the gallery of training photos.