Updated: Thursday, 6th August 2020 @ 1:45am

Didsbury decide gay rugby competition is worth a try

Didsbury decide gay rugby competition is worth a try

By Kevin Burke

The biannual international gay rugby tournament will be coming to Didsbury in 2012.

The Bingham Cup is the world’s third-biggest rugby tournament and the City Council, Marketing Manchester, local rugby teams and the Rugby Football Union have been working tirelessly to get it hosted here, battling fierce competition from Sydney and holding a presentation in Minneapolis.

On the 29 September it was announced it will be hosted by Manchester’s gay rugby team The Village Spartans at the Broughton Park Rugby Club at Hough End in Chorlton cum Hardy.

Preparations are already underway, with the hard-working organising committee preparing the club and promoting the event, expected to attract thousands of rugby fans from around the world.

Paul Wheeler, part of the bid team, spoke of Manchester’s proud rugby heritage and famed diversity, but explained that people were also drawn to the idea of playing British rugby in a British rugby club.  “There’s a proud history of Rugby in Manchester,” he said.

He explained it had taken four hard months to secure the bid.

“This was all a bit of a challenge as the people behind the bid are all volunteers so things had to be juggled around work and family life,” he said.

Sale Sharks player and gay pin-up Ben Cohen was a celebrity endorser of the proposal.

 “I’m a sportsman so I like to win,” he said. “The UK is where I live and work and as I am finding out more and more about Manchester and the surrounding area, the more I realise what a good thing it will be.”

Alex Smith, 58, chairman of the Village Spartans, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I’m really looking forwards to bringing one of the world’s largest rugby tournaments here.

“We’re thrilled. It’s a great accolade for the club and Manchester, and everyone has given us a lot of support.”

The Bingham Cup is held in memory of gay ruby player Mark Bingham, who was on Flight 93 in the 9/11 attacks and was reportedly one of the men who stormed the cabin, crash-landing the plane and averting further tragedy.