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Field in Ottawa set to be named after rugby hero Mark Bingham

Mark Bingham was both a gay rugby player and a hero as one of the passengers who fought back against hijackers on board United Flight 93.
Mark Bingham was a rugby player who fought back against the terrorists that hijacked United flight 93. Photo / Bingham Cup

After waiting two extra years due to the pandemic, the Bingham Cup has finally arrived in the nation's capital, and with that, the naming of a new field.

The dedication ceremony of the new 'Mark Bingham Field' is set to take place on Aug. 17 at 10 a.m. at Ken Steele Park, following a $35,000 donation from the Bingham Cup Ottawa 2022. 

The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or Bingham Cup as it is more widely known, is the biennial world championships of gay and inclusive rugby. The tournament was first held in 2002 in memory of 9/11 gay rugby hero Mark Bingham, one of the passengers who fought back against hijackers on board United Flight 93.

Administered by International Gay Rugby (IGR), the Bingham Cup hosting duties are awarded through a bidding process among the members of IGR. Ottawa was slated to hold the tournament in 2020, but had to postpone the highly anticipated event until 2022.

"Working with the Bingham Cup organizers, I'm proud of the role the City played to make this dream a reality and deliver an important legacy project in Ottawa," said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. "Thanks to the support of city council, we will now have the Mark Bingham Field at Ken Steele Park, and the enhanced multi-sport infrastructure being installed this fall will benefit local soccer and rugby clubs for years to come - including the Ottawa Wolves."

The Ottawa Wolves RFC was founded in 2008. The club competes in the regular Division 1 Eastern Ontario Rugby League and has competed in tournaments locally, nationally and internationally, including every Bingham Cup since 2010. During the 2022 Bingham Cup, over 1700 athletes have been drawn to the capital to compete in what has become the world's largest amateur rugby union tournament in the world. 

"What a tremendous honour to have this world class event right here in our community of Beacon Hill-Cyrville," added Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney. "Not only is the Mark Bingham Field capital improvement project great for tourism in the city of Ottawa, but it also adds much needed infrastructure within the ward by bringing life back to our sports field."

The tournament includes week-long cultural, educational and sporting events while remaining carbon-neutral. It will also feature a wheelchair rugby exhibition game and celebrate Indigenous culture. 

Practices began on Aug. 15, with actual rugby games beginning Aug. 18, and the crowning of a champion set for Aug. 21. All games will take place at the Hornet's Nest in Gloucester.

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