Article Title:Send a Kiwi ref to the Bingham Cup!
Category:True Stories
Author or Credit:GayNZ.com staff
Published on:14th May 2014 - 08:45 am
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:15074
Text:Ref Jack Cottrell and his whistle would love to be part of the Bingham Cup in Sydney in August. It’s a costly trip though, and he needs a little help from the community to get there. Contribute to Jack’s campaign here Jack (second from right) with the NZ Falcons Cottrell has lived and breathed rugby since he was eight. Aside from Christian Cullen, the game was his first love - however his playing career came to an abrupt end when he was 19, thanks to a broken neck. “I took up refereeing and haven't looked back - it's been five years, three different associations … more games than I can readily count, and I'm still on the way up. There are blokes around who have been 40 seasons with the whistle and I want to be like them.” Cottrell has been involved with gay New Zealand rugby team the NZ Falcons and says gay rugby has been a revelation. “Sometimes it's been as hard to come out to my gay friends as a rugby nut as it has been to my rugby friends that I'm gay. But I've found my people," he says. “The NZ Falcons, who are going to the Bingham Cup, have embraced me and I'm getting to see guys who have never played rugby in their lives - but always really wanted to - play for the first time. It is a powerful lesson in just how much rugby has to give people, and how much gay players can give back to the sport.” Cottrell never thought he’d get to see his two communities - lgbt and rugby - get together. “And to get together with the aim of changing stereotypes about both groups? It's a dream come true,” Cottrell says in his Pledge Me plea. “Well, almost. That's where you fabulous people come in. “Rugby refereeing is a volunteer activity, and I rack up the kilometres refereeing around Auckland. As you can imagine, this puts pressure on my finances already. “Shelling out for a trip to Sydney, where I will again volunteer to help make the tournament happen is a tough stretch. I'm the only New Zealand referee intending to go along - and if I can't make it, zero referees from the most rugby mad nation in the world will be there. That is a pretty poor showing.” Jack hard at work Cottrell’s had a strong start to his fundraising drive already, and anything above and beyond what he needs will be donated back to the NZ Falcons. The Bingham cup is named in honour of Mark Bingham. A former University of California rugby star, he was instrumental in the establishment of the San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club. A few months later, after the Fog was admitted to the Northern Californian Football Union, Bingham died in the September 11 attacks on board United Airlines Flight 93. He was one of a group of passengers who took amazing measures to attack the hijackers, which eventually led to them crashing the plane into a vacant field in Pennsylvania instead of its target of Washington, DC At the time of Mark Bingham’s tragic death, only six gay and inclusive rugby clubs existed worldwide. Two of those were co-founded by Bingham. Today there are almost 60 clubs. The Bingham Cup is the global event that promotes rugby union as an inclusive non-discriminatory sport.      GayNZ.com staff - 14th May 2014
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