By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)
This years’ Bingham Cup, the biennial LGBTQ+ Rugby Championships named after 9/11 hero and openly gay rugby player, Mark Bingham, recently wrapped. This year’s event was hosted in Ottawa, Canada which was originally slated to be held in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic, thus making it four years since the last Bingham Cup held in 2018 in Amsterdam and the 10th Bingham Cup since the tournament began in 2002.
The 2022 Bingham Cup was hosted by the Ottawa Wolves Rugby Club, one of five LGBTQ+ rugby clubs in Canada who also fielded several teams within the tournament. The event brought out 1700 athletes from 58 different teams, representing eight countries. Rugby Canada, welcomed the athletes with a special message from CEO Nathan Bombrys at the opening ceremony.
“With over 1700 registered participants, the Bingham Cup has now grown into the largest international rugby tournament in the world and we are so proud to be hosting that tournament here in Canada,” said Bombrys, in the address. “I know from my own, perhaps not so distinguished rugby career, having had the opportunity to play against inclusive teams just how important inclusive rugby is to the lives of players from the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”
Rugby Canada also hosted clinics for coaches and officials to help build continuing education development for coaches, officials and players who are looking to expand their participation in the sport. In addition, Rugby Canada also organized exhibition matches for Wheelchair Rugby which included several players from the Canadian National Team.
This years’ Bingham Cup included workshops, tournaments, and events on top of the initial playing schedule, and plenty of parties, drag shows and events befit to a fabulous time. A highlighted event was the summit “Tackling Transphobia and Homophobia in Sport” which is especially timely in International Gay Rugby (IGR)’s and the LGBTQ+ rugby community’s response to International Rugby League and other national and international rugby leagues instituting blanket bans on transgender participants, specifically targeting trans women.
In the end, the Ottawa Wolves took home the gold in the Women’s tournament, finishing the group phase 2-1 and avenging their loss against the New York Village Lions, coming out on top 14-10. The London Kings Cross Steelers took home gold in the Men’s tournament with a perfect 6-0 record during group play and playoffs. The final results for the entire event can be found here at https://www.tournifyapp.com/live/binghamcup2022/schedule.
Overall, this years’ Bingham Cup was a resounding success and an important statement on building LGBTQ+ inclusive sport spaces, especially for transgender/intersex/non-binary people to show how participation in sport is beneficial toward empowering our community and taking action to continue our fight for diversity, equity/equality and inclusion.
Photo Credit: Ben Gronfors and Ottawa Wolves RFC