Next week Caledonian Thebans RFC, Scotland’s leading inclusive rugby club, will fly to the United States to represent Scotland at Bingham Cup 2016 – the biennial the biennial World Championships for LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) rugby clubs, taking place in Nashville, Tennessee.
From Scotland’s capital city, long referred to as “The Athens of the North”, the Thebans will join over 30 clubs in Nashville – by coincidence often known as “The Athens of the South” – in a 3-day campaign to hopefully be crowned LGBTI World Champions.
The Bingham Cup was named after Mark Bingham, a founding figure in the inclusive rugby movement who lost his life on 11 September 2001 tackling hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93. What started as an 8-club tournament in 2002 has grown into a global event that in 2016 will feature over 800 players from 4 continents.
Caledonian Thebans will be hoping to unseat 2014 champions, Sydney Convicts. After a 4-year hiatus, the Thebans are keen to make their mark on the tournament.
“We simply couldn’t afford to play at the last Bingham Cup, in Sydney,” said club chairman Owen Greechan. “However last year we brought home silverware from the European Championships in Brussels; and this year we were determined to push on and compete on a global stage.” The club has found new sponsors, completed a crowdfunding campaign and recruited a host of new players over the season; with the result that a full squad of 25 is making the trip to the States. “We’ve really stepped up a level, from the quality of our coaching to our performances on match day; and we’re ready for this”, Greechan added.
Awaiting the Thebans is the prospect of 30-degree heat and high humidity – a marked change from conditions at BT Murrayfield Stadium, where the club are based. “Fitness is going to be key, especially playing several matches a day for 3 successive days”, says team captain Neil Fox, “but our Head Coach has really pushed us, and competing for our country gives us that extra shove!”
Thebans’ outside centre, David Probert, told KaleidoScot: “It’s a massive event – over 30 clubs and well over 1,000 players from across the globe will be playing there – not many LGBT sports clubs get an opportunity to compete on this kind of stage.”
The Bingham Cup takes place in Nashville from 22-29 May 2016. More information can be found on the competition’s website.