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Falcons warming up for a big month

Tue 11 Aug 2015 In: Our Communities View at NDHA

The NZ Falcons kick off their fundraising drive to get to the next Bingham Cup in Nashville with a classy Gala Dinner later this month, before they host some of the big guns in gay rugby from Australia for the Purchas Cup on 5 September. Team stalwart Gav Hyde tells about the exciting month ahead. The Falcons have been tearing it up in their Auckland competition this season The big news for rugby heads is that former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry will be a guest speaker at the Falcons’ Gala Dinner at Ellerslie Event Centre on 29 August. Tickets here Sir Graham is a friend of the Falcons’ coach and his partner, and was happy to come along and support the team. He will also answer some questions from the audience. “That’s going to be a great opportunity,” says Gav Hyde, Falcons President. “And from a timing point of view it’s literally weeks before the Rugby World Cup, when he gets to see whether his successor Steve Hansen can actually replicate him and win.” Sports mad businessman ‘The Mad Butcher’ Sir Peter Leitch will also speak, while Anika Moa will lead the entertainment line-up Falcons players will act as hosts and greet guests at the door and taking them to their tables, showing off their new formal attire. Ticket sales are solid, but there is room for more guests. “It’s attracting a lot of interest from companies, and community groups like GABA, and also the general public as well,” Hyde says. “And we’ve also sold table to other rugby teams that we play with in the competition. The teams that we line up against each week, they’re coming along to support us, but also have a great evening.” After forming in 2013 and bringing a gay and inclusive rugby team back to New Zealand, the Falcons have gained plenty of respect in the Auckland competition they play in. “The best way to earn respect is to play hard rugby,” Hyde says. “And that’s what we’ve been going out and doing.” It’s been a very strong Falcons season. Hyde says they have had lots of wins, a couple of losses, and lots of crucial learning. “They’ve been playing some really tough teams. The losses are all good because that’s part of tempering the team and getting them to a place where they can compete really strongly against some Australian teams that are coming over that are very, very strong teams.” Get ready for the Purchas Cup The 2014 Purchas Cup Hyde’s talking about the Purchas Cup, which the Falcons are hosting at Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium on 5 September. The former Australian tournament is now trans-Tasman, and is coming to New Zealand for the first time. The Sydney Convicts, Melbourne Chargers and Brisbane Hustlers are bringing their very strong first XVs over, while there will also be 2nd XV sides and a Barbarians team from a range of clubs. There will of course be off the field action too. The weekend kicks off with welcome drinks at the Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen on Sale St on the Friday night. After the rugby on Saturday there will be a players’ dinner and awards ceremony, followed by a dance party at Galatos. Tickets here Solid support Gav Hyde at NZ Rugby headquarters The Falcons’ key sponsor ASB is supporting the tournament, along with a number of other companies and community groups. Ponsonby Rugby Club has been fully behind the event, as have the Auckland Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Union – helping with the logistics of ensuring the Australian players are registered and insured here. That’s on the back of Hyde, gay New Zealand rugby stalwart Dean Knight and Michael Stevens from Rainbow Tick had attending a NZRU diversity forum about a month and a half ago. “We sat in a room with the NZRU. They invited a whole diverse group of other New Zealand sports, and people like Louisa Wall and other glbt leaders. It was very clear the NZRU had a commitment to actually developing a diversity programme within the organisation, and also within their unions. That’s a difficult thing for them because they head a group of 27 unions, and it’s immensely challenging to get something that’s actually going to be real and implementable across all of those unions.” Nashville calling After the Purchas Cup, Nashville and ‘gay rugby world cup’ The Bingham Cup is calling. The Falcons are working hard on their plan to get a competitive squad to the US city and what’s destined to be a huge event. “Whenever [the Bingham Cup] is in America, the Americans just turn up in droves,” Hyde says. Around 800 or 900 players converged on Sydney for last year’s event, and Hyde thinks the Nashville tournament is likely to exceed 1,000. “And of course Dollywood’s not far away,” Hyde laughs about the other big attraction. Get involved The Falcons would love the community to help their cause by coming along to the Gala Dinner. They’d also love crowds to head along to Purchas Cup game day and support the players and the event. “It’s going to be a fun day. There’s lots of things happening. And there are not many chances you get to barrack for a gay and inclusive rugby team playing international rugby, in New Zealand.”  Jacqui Stanford - 11th August 2015    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Tuesday, 11th August 2015 - 11:03am

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