Caledonian Thebans RFC, Scotland’s national rugby team for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people and their allies, have been crowned runners-up in the ‘Silver Plate’ final of the Union Cup, Europe’s biennial LGBTI championships.
Fresh from this success, Thebans are now setting their sights on victory at the 2016 Bingham Cup, the World championships taking place in Nashville, Tennessee in May 2016.
This year’s Union Cup, the sixth since the championships began, was held in Brussels from 21-24 May and saw 20 teams and almost 1,000 players from across Europe contest a bruising race for the title. The Thebans battled against teams from Wales, England, France and Portugal before a highly-charged 8-7 defeat to hosts Straffe Ketten of Belgium saw them take the runners-up spot.
Based in Edinburgh and training at Murrayfield, but with members across Scotland, the Thebans took 30 players and supporters to Brussels. Whilst the Club was established in Edinburgh over 10 years ago to develop and support LGBTI players, 20 per cent of the players who travelled to Brussels are straight. Robert Forrester, Club Chairman, said: “We’re a very inclusive team and believe strongly in reaching beyond the LGBTI community. We welcome all players and supporters who share our love of rugby. We are really excited to represent Scotland on the global sporting stage and we want to do the country proud.”
Caledonian Thebans began life in 2002, looking to provide the means and facilities for LGBTI men and their allies, who are serious about playing rugby or learning the game, to do so in a safe and supportive environment. In 2003 the Caledonian Thebans became recognised by the SRU and the International Rugby Board as being the first rugby team in the world to have a transgendered player.
Caledonian Thebans RFC is named after the Scared Band of Thebes, one of the most famous Ancient Greek regiments in history. Made up of homosexual male couples, the Thebans pledged to lay down their lives for each other and their home city of Thebes, which they duly did at the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC against Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. In about 300 BC, the town of Thebes erected a giant stone lion on a pedestal at the burial site of the Sacred Band.
Whilst the Union Cup marks the end of the Thebans’ 2014-15 season, the team are working hard to increase membership, raise their profile and attract new sponsors and allies to support their bid to bring the Bingham Cup silverware back to Scotland.