Coming off the heels of the Purchas Cup in Brisbane, and after navigating the drama regarding former professional rugby player, Israel Folau’s outspoken homophobic stance. Rugby Australia has entered an official partnership with four of Australia’s LGBTQI inclusive rugby teams that, according to Chief Execute Raelene Castle, “is a key step forward in fostering and maintaining a Rugby environment that is safe, welcoming and enjoyable for all members of the LGBTIQA+ community.”

The partnership, which includes International Gay Rugby (IGR), was formalized by Rugby Australia, IGR, and the four Australian teams, Sydney Convicts, Melbourne Chargers, Brisbane Hustlers and Perth Rams. This partnership includes the forming of a committee to support the development of the clubs, identify barriers, propose solutions, promote participation and educate the rugby community about the impact of homophobia and the safety of LGBTQI participants.

“Rugby Australia has worked closely with the gay and inclusive Rugby clubs to develop a program to further support the development of Rugby in the LGBTIQA+ community,” Castle said.

“We want Rugby to be a game that all Australians can enjoy regardless of their age, race, background, religion, gender or sexual orientation and this formal alliance between Rugby Australia and the clubs is a key step forward in fostering and maintaining a Rugby environment that is safe, welcoming and enjoyable for all members of the LGBTIQA+ community.”

Additionally, Rugby Australia will work with the clubs and IGR to advocate for the return of the Bingham Cup to Australia. The 2014 Bingham Cup was hosted by Sydney and was the first time the event was held in Australia. The Bingham Cup is set to held next August in Ottawa, Canada.

By Dirk Smith