Caledonian Thebans RFC, Scotland’s leading inclusive rugby club, have won the Hoagland Cup at the Bingham Cup championships 2016 – the biennial World Championships for LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) rugby clubs – which took place in Nashville, Tennessee this weekend.
The Thebans fought 15 teams to be crowned champions of Group B in the competition, recording 6 wins out of 6 against opponents from England, the United States and Australia. In 30-degree heat and stifling humidity, they pulled off an emphatic 38-12 victory in the final against Chicago Dragons and became proud winners of The Hoagland Cup. Accepting the trophy from Alice Hoagland, whose son Mark Bingham inspired the championships, Thebans Captain Neil Fox said “What a feeling- to come here, beat some of the best inclusive clubs in the world and leave as winners is just amazing. We felt we had the potential and I’m so proud that we delivered to it. We played our best-ever rugby this week, but you just know there’s more to come from this team.”
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. The 2016 tournament, which saw the Melbourne Chargers crowned as overall champions, brought together nearly 1,000 players from 4 continents for a week of action in the American south.
The Thebans were one of 5 British teams represented and the Hoagland Cup was the highest honour won by a British team at the championships.
Club chairman Owen Greechan said “Scotland has always been on the inclusive rugby map, but now we’ve put our name in lights and it’s important we keep building on that. We’ve a long, hard season coming up – we’ll be competing in a league and have the European championships in Madrid next April. Further ahead, we’re bidding to bring Bingham Cup 2018 to Edinburgh and we’ll have an announcement on that very shortly. But now we’re focused on a bucket of beers and a few days off!”
The Thebans are hoping to bring the Bingham Cup to Edinburgh for 2018 and are seeking commercial, public and voluntary sector partners to help win the bid. The club would welcome contact from interested parties about media, PR and community engagement opportunities.