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Sydney fills the Bingham Cup with love

Wed 27 Aug 2014 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

We’ve been keeping up with the NZ Falcons RFC as they prepare to compete this week against inclusive clubs from around the globe in the Bingham Cup and as it boils down to the fields of battle, let’s catch up on how the Harbour City is welcoming this unique sporting celebration. It’s true the Bingham Cup is widely known as the “gay rugby world cup”, with the focus being on which team can grab the coveted award currently held by this year’s hosts, the Sydney Convicts, but in true Sydney fashion and with a legacy of iconic community events as a guide, the city has turned up the volume on this bi-yearly event, scoring try after try off the field as well. As the teams have been trickling in from around the world and our very own Falcons gather their forces, Bingham organisers have treated their guests to packed diary of social gatherings to foster the spirit of the event, with a few standout additions this year Committee member Joshua Bowman takes particular pride in. “We have our three ‘Bingham Bars’ – Kinselas, Stonewall and the Beresford Hotel – who have put together a range of events across the week,” says Bowman, himself a Christchurch boy currently living here who has previously volunteered for many events, including the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on various levels. These host bars have been swelling with rugby players and fans since last weekend, before the official events began, when the All Blacks v Wallabies drew a packed crowd to Kinselas – a crowd that got decidedly quieter as the game went on, I might add. Some of the NZ crew in Sydney Urge Bar co-owner Alan Granville who relocated to Sydney last year has been one of the bar managers at this Taylor Square institution for a few months and confesses that night took them by surprise as the Bingham Cup was yet to start. “We were expecting a good night but not that majorly good. What’s not a surprise, however, is how good-natured everyone is – they’re really on a high here and really up for it. Just seeing all the teams mixing with each other is fantastic.” Although the nature of the beast will keep Alan from many of the events, for him the event has been fantastic on many levels. "We’re so pleased and proud to be one of the three host Bingham Cup bars. It’s something we’ve pushed for a lot and we think we’re an ideal place because one of my jobs since coming on board here has been to make it more of a GLBT sports hub so it made complete sense to be part of the Bingham Cup.” Last Sunday brought the masses out to The Beresford for an overwhelming welcome drinks. Other social events that have dotted the week so far include a classy affair on the Harbour at the Opera Bar with arguably the best view in town (crowd included). Later that night a special screening of a documentary The Rugby Player taught us about the brave Californian who was instrumental in bringing down Flight 93 on September 11 – Mark Bingham, for whom this rugby cup is now named. His mother Alice Hoagland, having not missed a Cup since it was branded with her son’s name, was there to add her strength and love to the night, as she will throughout the tournament. Barry Taylor While evening revelry at the host bars continue through the week, the daytime hot spot as been the registration and all around check-in hub at the Pop-Up Store on Oxford Street, run by Kiwi-icon and Sydney local Barry Taylor who got involved because: “it’s that community where people tap you on the shoulder and being in my role with GLISA (Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association) with the international sports I said ‘sure!’ I wanted to make a difference because I think it’s so exciting that we have the Bingham Cup down under.” Taylor, who is also President of GLISA Asia Pacific and currently working to bring the 4th Asia Pacific Outgames to Auckland in February 2016, is behind the shop and welcoming almost 900 players, officials and supporters taking part in the Cup, which also includes a women's 7's competition. “It’s a little bit down from other years but you always get that when we host international events in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Taylor, who’s been backed-up by a hard-working team of 29 volunteers throughout the week. Although official attendance is less, the feedback to Taylor has been “wow, wow, wow – well organised so far so people are very excited.” What’s been great for the volunteers is “the number of people who have thanked us. They really appreciate us and that’s really, really nice. But once again it’s a great vibe. I’m loving the reunions for all the people from other Bingham Cups saying ‘hi’ and getting together again. And the number of people who are playing, they’ve played against each other before and they’re passionate about rugby.” “Those overall volunteers helping to keep things ticking throughout the Bingham Cup are in the hundreds," says Bowman. “We have also been lucky to engage many local community groups to run a number of the events including Queer Screen, the Harbour City Bears and the Sydney Rangers Football Club.” And beyond the smiling grassroots hands building this event, he says there’s been massive support for the event “from big name sponsors, too many to list here, through to our local business community. I have had the pleasure of meeting with many of the local business and their enthusiasm for the event is through the roof.” While one uninvited guest – rain – has dampened some jerseys, it hasn’t touched the spirits of those who have travelled around the world for this chance to compete with pride. Even though yesterday’s afternoon of touch rugby on Bondi Beach eventually got washed out, the Sunset(less) Social sponsored by Aussiebum was still a hit. And this is all with just half the week down! Ahead comes the opening ceremony Thursday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, along with a few other Sydney additions to the stellar schedule. “The stand out event for me has been the [Friday] pool party, the demand has been massive and the party was a quick sellout,” says Bowman. “But I am particularly excited about the [Sunday] closing party at the Ivy Hotel where the team have put together something really special.” Who doesn’t love a good party? But it’s only Wednesday and this well-polished and jovial week starts to turn serious as teams lock down and get tuned-up for games that kick off Friday morning, including our own Falcons against the Manchester Village Startans at 9am local. You can keep up with how the Falcons and others are faring through the Bingham Cup 2014 app available for iPhone and Android, follow the fun on Facebook or even get geared up without being here and learn more about this growing event here  Stay tuned for more Bingham Cup highlights and join fellow Kiwis Bowman, Taylor and Granville in cheering on our team: GO FALCONS!! - Leif Wauters More pics:     Leif Wauters - 27th August 2014    

Credit: Leif Wauters

First published: Wednesday, 27th August 2014 - 2:30pm

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