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Ottawa to host international gay rugby union tournament, promoting inclusivity in sport

The Bingham Cup the world's largest amateur union rugby tournament, and it's coming to the city in 2020.
2018-10-04 OTTAWA WOLVES
Ottawa Wolves RFC men's team. Photo/

The Ottawa Wolves RFC are the first Canadian inclusive rugby club to host the Bingham Cup and follow other inclusive rugby clubs that have successfully held the biennial tournament.

The Bingham Cup is an international gay rugby union tournament that promotes inclusivity, equality and competition. 

Seventy rugby teams from five continents are expected to participate in the 2020 Bingham Cup.

"Having the opportunity to host the Bingham Cup in Ottawa is an honour for our city," said Mayor Jim Watson, who was on hand for Thursday's announcement. "This event will bring excitement, spirit of competition and economic benefits to Ottawa, and allow our residents to enjoy world-class rugby matches."

Administered by International Gay Rugby (IGR), the Bingham Cup is named in memory of Mark Kendall Bingham, a former University of California, Berkeley rugby star and co-founder of the Gotham Knights RFC, a gay-inclusive rugby club in New York City.

Mark Kendall Bingham lost his life in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks onboard United Airlines Flight 93.

"The international gay rugby community is excited that the Bingham Cup will be held in Canada for first time -- a country with a growing rugby community and a proud reputation of openness toward the LGBT+ community," said Ben Owen, IGR Chair.

First held in 2002, the Bingham Cup is today the largest international amateur rugby union tournament in the world. The 2018 tournament hosted by the Amsterdam Lowlanders RFC had more than 2,300 registered participants from 63 countries. The 2020 tournament in Ottawa will include week-long cultural, educational and sporting events and is forecast to generate economic activity in excess of $8.5 million. The 2020 tournament will also be carbon-neutral, feature a wheelchair rugby exhibition game and celebrate Indigenous culture.

"The Bingham Cup promotes the values of inclusivity and equality regardless of sexual orientation, and those are values that Canadians support wholeheartedly," said The Honourable Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for the riding of Ottawa Centre.

One of only three gay-inclusive rugby clubs in Canada, the Ottawa Wolves RFC was engaged in an extensive bidding process to win the rights to host the 2020 Bingham Cup in the nation's capital. Other gay-inclusive rugby clubs in Canada include the Montreal Armada RFC and the Toronto Muddy York RFC.

"This is a truly historic moment for both rugby and the inclusive sports movement in Canada," said Jean-François Laberge, past Captain of the Ottawa Wolves RFC and President of the Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020 Bid Committee. "Hosting the Bingham Cup reinforces that Canada is an open, inclusive and welcoming country."

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. The Ottawa Wolves RFC is part of IGR, a member of the Federation of Gay Games and recognized by World Rugby as their lead LGBT organization.

"Bringing the Bingham Cup to Canada is a major boost for the sport of rugby in this country," said Tim Powers, Chairman of Rugby Canada. "Rugby is truly an international game with the values of inclusiveness and respect at its core. It’s a sport that transcends issues of sexuality and gender and celebrates diversity."

Other cities which have hosted the Bingham Cup include London, England; New York, USA; Dublin, Ireland; Sydney, Australia; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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