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The History of Gay Rugby

 
 
 
 

The gay rugby story reads like a family tree, with births, name changes, divorces and sadly deaths. It is for this very reason that we often refer to the many clubs around the world as a “family”.

The first stirrings of this family came in the 1980s with several southern hemisphere clubs attempting to get off the ground, but sadly not lasting long enough to become officially registered.

It was on 1st November 1995 that a small group of gay men met in the Central Station pub near King’s Cross, North London, UK to discuss the formation of the world’s first OFFICIALLY recognised Gay Rugby Club. It is here where our story begins...

 
 

1995

  • London, England, UK – 1st November, 6 gay men meet at the Central Station pub in the King’s Cross area of North London and agree to form a rugby club for gay and bisexual men. King’s Cross Steelers, the world’s first officially registered gay rugby club is founded

 

1998

  • Manchester, England, UK – Manchester Village Spartans founded

  • Washington DC, USA – Washington Renegades founded

  • Wellington, New Zealand – Wellington Krazy Knights founded (d. 2001)

  • Auckland, New Zealand – Ponsonby Heroes founded (d. 2004)

  • Wellington, New Zealand – World’s first gay rugby match takes place between Wellington Krazy Knights & Ponsonby Heroes

 

1999

  • Manchester, England, UK - First European gay rugby match between Manchester Village Spartans and Kings Cross Steelers as part of Manchester Pride, August

 

2000

  • San Francisco, CA, USA – San Francisco Fog founded

  • World Barbarians created

  • London, England, UK – World’s first gay rugby tournament takes place between King’s Cross Steelers, Manchester Village Spartans and Washington Renegades

 

2001

  • Los Angeles, CA, USA – Los Angeles Rebellion founded

  • New York City, NY, USA – Gotham Knights founded

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – Buenos Aires Rugby founded (d. 2001)

  • Washington DC, USA – Washington Invitational tournament takes place

  • International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB) founded

  • September 11, 2001 – Terrorist attacks across the northeast USA. United Airlines Flight 93 crashes into the ground near Shanksville PA, killing all 44 people onboard, including SF Fog’s Mark Kendall Bingham.

 

2002

  • Seattle, WA, USA – Seattle Quake founded

  • Dallas, TX, USA – Dallas Diablos founded

  • Boston, MA, USA – Boston Ironsides founded

  • Vancouver, Canada – Vancouver Rogues founded (d. 2010)

  • Edinburgh, Scotland – Caledonian Thebans founded

  • San Francisco, CA, USA – The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament is hosted by SF Fog. Eight teams participate (Gotham Knights, Kings Cross Steelers, LA Rebellion, Manchester Village Spartans, SF Fog A, SF Fog B, Seattle Quake and Washington Renegades). The event would go on the be known as the first “Bingham Cup”.

 

2003

  • Atlanta, GA, USA – Atlanta Bucks founded

  • Philadelphia, PA, USA – Philadelphia Gryphons founded

  • Chicago, IL, USA – Chicago Dragons founded

  • Houston, TX, USA – Houston Roughnecks founded (d. 2008, r. 2016)

  • Austin, TX, USA – Austin Lonestars founded (d. 2006)

  • Toronto, Canada – Muddy York founded

  • Paris, France – Les Gaillards founded

  • Dublin, Ireland – Emerald Warriors founded

  • Sydney, Australia – Sydney Convicts founded

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – Amsterdam NOP founded

 

2004

  • Phoenix, AZ, USA – Phoenix Storm founded

  • Minneapolis, MN, USA – Minneapolis Mayhem founded

  • Charlotte, NC, USA – Charlotte Royals founded

  • Portland, OR, USA – Portland Avalanche founded (d. 2009)

  • Cardiff, Wales, UK – Cardiff Lions founded, 1 March

  • Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Hustlers founded (d. 2007, r. 2012)

  • Malmö, Sweden – Malmö Devilants founded (d. 2007)

  • Copenhagen, Denmark – Copenhagen Scrum founded (AKA Copenhagen Wolves) (d. 2010, r. 2017)

  • Grenoble, France – La Mêlée Alpine founded

  • Montpellier, France – Los Valents De Montpelhier founded

  • London, England, UK – The second Bingham Cup takes place in Esher, Surrey, hosted by the King’s Cross Steelers

  • Sydney & Brisbane, Australia – The first two games of the Purchas Cup are held, one game in Sydney, one in Brisbane. Named after the founder of the Sydney Convicts, Andrew “Fuzz” Purchas

  • Auckland, New Zealand – First trans-Tasman gay rugby match between Ponsonby Heroes and Brisbane Hustlers

 

2005

  • San Diego, CA, USA – San Diego Armada founded, 10 February

  • Bristol, England, UK – Bristol Bisons founded, February

  • Montpellier, France – The first edition of the Union Cup is held, creating a biennial tournament for the clubs of Europe

  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its second year against the Brisbane Hustlers

 

2006

  • Newcastle, England, UK – Newcastle Ravens founded, 1 May

  • Nashville, TN, USA – Nashville Grizzlies founded, 7 October

  • Paris, France – Les Coqs Festifs founded, with Paris becoming the first city to boast two gay rugby teams.

  • Toulouse, France – Tou’Win founded

  • New York City, NY, USA – The third Bingham Cup takes place on Randall’s Island, hosted by the Gotham Knights

 

2007

  • Madison, WI, USA – Madison Minotaurs founded

  • North Carolina, USA – North Carolina Kodiaks founded (d. 2010)

  • Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK – Ulster Titans founded (d. 2010)

  • Lyon, France – Rebelyons founded

  • Copenhagen, Denmark – The second Union Cup tournament takes place, hosted by the Copenhagen Scrum (AKA Copenhagen Wolves)

 

2008

  • Ottawa, Canada – Ottawa Wolves founded, 2 July

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – Amsterdam NOP become ARC Lowlanders

  • Dublin, Ireland – The fourth Bingham Cup takes place, hosted by the Emerald Warriors

 

2009

  • St. Louis, MO, USA – St. Louis Crusaders founded

  • Denver, CO, USA – Denver Wildfire founded (d. 2011)

  • Melbourne, Australia – Melbourne Chargers founded

  • Lisbon, Portugal – Lisbon Dark Horses founded

  • London, England, UK – The third Union Cup tournament takes place at Memorial Recreation Ground, hosted by the King’s Cross Steelers

  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its third edition against the Melbourne Chargers

 

2010

  • Kansas City, MO, USA – Kansas City Carnivores founded (d. 2014)

  • Denver, CO, USA – Colorado Rush founded, 10 October

  • Halifax, Canada – Scotian Storm is created but never formalised

  • Derby, England, UK – Derby Panthers founded (d. 2013)

  • Oporto, Portugal – Oporto Spartans founded (d. 2011)

  • Brussels, Belgium – Brussels Straffe Ketten founded

  • Minneapolis, MN, USA – The fifth Bingham Cup takes place, hosted by the Minneapolis Mayhem

  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its forth edition against the Melbourne Chargers

 

2011

  • Columbus, OH, USA – Columbus Coyotes founded, 18 September

  • Birmingham, England, UK – Birmingham Bulls founded

  • Stockholm, Sweden – STHLM Berserkers founded

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – The fourth Union Cup tournament takes place, hosted by the ARC Lowlanders

  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its fifth edition against the Melbourne Chargers

 

2012

  • Dallas, TX, USA – Dallas Lost Souls founded

  • Charleston, SC, USA – Charleston Blockade founded

  • Northampton, England, UK – Northampton Outlaws founded

  • Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Hustlers reform after a five year break

  • Berlin, Germany – Berlin Bruisers founded

  • Cape Town, South Africa – BLIGHT Rugby founded, 14 February

  • Manchester, England, UK – The sixth Bingham Cup takes place, hosted by the Manchester Village Spartans

  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its six edition against the Melbourne Chargers and Brisbane Hustlers

  • Brussels, Belgium – First Thalys Cup between Brussels Straffe Ketten and Amsterdam Lowlanders takes place, with Brussels winning 12-5. The match is named after the Thalys train that connect Brussels and Amsterdam.

 

2013

  • Brisbane, Australia - Brisbane Hustlers join IGRAB, 22 January

  • Charleston, SC, USA - Charleston Blockade join IGRAB, 22 January

  • Johannesburg, South Africa – Wham Rugby founded, 9 February

  • Boston, MA, USA – New England Valkyries founded, September (d. 2016)

  • Washington DC, USA – Washington Scandals founded

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – Pampas Rugby Adapli founded

  • Leeds, England, UK – Leeds Hornets founded (d. 2016)

  • Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand Falcons

  • Cologne, Germany – Cologne Crushers founded

  • Rome, Italy – Libera Rugby founded

  • Ferrara, Italy – Roosters Rugby 7 founded

  • Madrid, Spain – Madrid Titanes founded

  • Santiago, Chile – Titanes Rugby Club founded

  • Dallas, TX, USA - Dallas Lost Souls join IGRAB, 23 March

  • Berlin, Germany - Berlin Bruisers join IGRAB, 25 March

  • Birmingham, England, UK - Birmingham Bulls join IGRAB, 26 March

  • Bristol, England, UK – The fifth Union Cup tournament takes place becoming the world second largest tournament after the Bingham Cup, attended by 20 teams, hosted by the Bristol Bisons

  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its seventh edition against the Melbourne Chargers and Brisbane Hustlers

  • London, England, UK – GayRugbyClubs.com (GRC) founded by Kings Cross Steeler, Neil Pyper, 19 July

  • Washington DC, USA - Washington Scandals join IGRAB, 31 July

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – The second Thalys Cup between Brussels Straffe Ketten and Amsterdam Lowlanders is held. Amsterdam won 38-22.

  • Auckland, New Zealand - New Zealand Falcons join IGRAB, 20 December

 

2014

  • Sabadell, Spain – Els Dragons De La Mola founded

  • Southampton, England, UK – Wessex Wyverns founded

  • Montreal, Canada – Armada Montréal founded

  • Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Hustlers win the Purchas Cup, defeating the Sydney Convicts who have kept the title throughout the tournament’s ten year history

  • Berlin, Germany – Berlin Bruisers host the first “Bash About”, with guest coach Gareth Thomas

  • London, England, UK – GayRugbyClubs.com v2 launched, 9 June

  • Osaka, Japan - Dym Rugby founded, 5 July

  • 15 July – GRC welcomes our 60th club, Titanes RC of Santiago, Chile (founded in 2013). This is the first time in inclusive rugby’s 19 year history that 60 clubs have existed at one time

  • Sydney, Australia – The seventh Bingham Cup took place, hosted and once again won by the Sydney Convicts

  • London, England, UK – IGRAB announce a rebranding to become IGR (International Gay Rugby)

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina - Ciervos Pampas (formally Rugby Adapli) join IGR, 28 September

  • Cologne, Germany - Cologne Crushers join IGR, 16 October

  • London, England, UK, 19 November – IGR announce that Nashville Grizzlies will host the 2016 Bingham Cup

 

2015

  • London, England, UK – IGR rebranding continues as igrab.net is replaced by igrugby.org

  • Zürich, Switzerland – Zürich Rascals founded, 9 January.

  • Melbourne, Australia – History is made as Melbourne Chargers play Sydney Convicts as a curtain raiser at the AAMI Park Stadium prior to the Melbourne Rebels v NSW Waratahs game on 20th February. Chargers win 38-24.

  • Montreal, Canada - Armada Montreal join IGR, 9 March

  • Swansea, Wales – Swansea Vikings founded, 26 April

  • Brussels, Belgium – The 6th Union Cup hosted by Straffe Ketten attended by 24 European teams. Cup won by Kings Cross Steelers.

  • Rome, Italy - Libera Rugby join IGR, 24 May

  • Daylesford, Victoria, Australia – Daylesford Dragons founded, 13 July

  • France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland – ‘GRC en français’ launched, 27 July

  • Sabadell, Spain - Els Dragons De La Mola join IGR, 10 August

  • Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand Falcons to host the Purchas Cup for the first time

  • Johannesburg, South Africa – Jozi Cats founded, 20 August

  • Glasgow, Scotland, UK – Glasgow Alphas founded, 22 September

  • Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK – Belfast Azlans founded, 11 October

  • London, England, UK – 1 November: Kings Cross Steelers celebrate 20 years of gay rugby by returning to Central Station pub in Kings Cross where the club was founded on 1 November 1995

  • Brighton & Hove, England, UK – B&H Sea Serpents founded, 4 November

  • Portland, OR, USA – Portland Lumberjacks founded 9 November, becoming the 70th active gay rugby club

 

2016

  • Cardiff, Wales, UK – Praetorians RFC founded, January

  • London, England, UK – IGR and GRC merge to create IGRC, 29 February

  • Brighton & Hove, England, UK - Brighton & Hove Sea Serpents join IGR, 7 March

  • Swansea, Wales, UK - Swansea Vikings join IGR, 7 March

  • Portland, OR, USA - Portland Lumberjacks join IGR, 21 March

  • Reading, England, UK – Reading Renegades founded, April

  • Stellenbosch, South Africa - SteLGBTouch founded, April

  • Johannesburg, South Africa - Jozi Cats founded, May

  • Houston, TX, USA – Houston Roughnecks reformed as Houston Rough Riders after an eight-year gap, May

  • Nashville, TN, USA – Nashville Grizzlies host the eighth Bingham Cup, 22-29 May. Melbourne Chargers win the Cup for the first time.

  • Ashville, NC, USA – Blue Ridge Bootleggers founded, June

  • Columbus, OH, USA – Columbus Kodiaks founded, June

  • Mendoza, Argentina – Huarpes Rugby founded, June

  • Baltimore, MD, USA – Baltimore Flamingos founded, July

  • Liverpool, England, UK – Liverpool Tritons founded, July

  • Barcelona, Spain – Mola’s Bear’s founded, July

  • Munich, Germany – Munich Monks founded, July

  • Berkshire, England, UK – Berkshire Unicorns founded, August

  • ISIRR join IGR as the first Society member, 17 August

  • Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Nelson Mandela Bay LGBTI Touch founded, October

  • Columbus, OH, USA - Columbus Kodiaks join IGR, 18 October

  • London, England, UK, 15 October – IGR announce that Amsterdam Lowlanders will host the 2018 Bingham Cup

  • Leeds, England, UK - Leeds Hunters founded, November

  • Liverpool, England, UK - Liverpool Tritons join IGR, 10 November

  • New Orleans, LA, USA - Crescent City Rougaroux founded, December

 

2017

  • Baltimore, MD, USA - Charm City Knights founded, 10 January

  • Rosario, Argentina - Rugby Lobitos De Río founded, 17 January

  • Sydney, Australia - The Chairman of IGR, Andrew 'Fuzz' Purchas is awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for “service to rugby union and to the promotion of social inclusion for LGBTI people.” The award was announced on Australia Day, 26 January.

  • London England, UK - IGR introduces its new branding, 29 January

  • IGR welcome its inaugural Women's Rugby Representative, Megan Goettsches from Charleston Blockade, 14 February

  • Madrid, Spain – Madrid Titanes host the seventh Union Cup, 28-30 April. Kings Cross Steelers become European champions for the sixth time. Emerald Warriors win the right to host the 2019 Union Cup

  • Santiago, Chile - Titanes Rugby Club reforms, 4 May

  • Philadelphia, PA, USA - Philadelphia Gryphons host the first IGR North America East Championships, 18-21 May. Washington Renegades A win the Colonial Cup, Atlanta Bucks win the Independence Cup and Nashville Grizzlies win the Franklin Cup.

  • IGR announce that European member clubs voted 48-5 in favour of IGR involvement in the management of the Union Cup, 24 May.

  • Denver, CO, USA - Colorado Rush host the first IGR North America West Championships, 25-29 May

  • Milwaukee, WI, USA - Milwaukee Beers Barons founded, 27 June

  • São Paulo, Brazil, - Tamanduás-Bandeira Rugby Club founded, 6 August

  • Sheffield, England, UK - Sheffield Vulcans founded, 22 August

  • Munich, Germany - Munich Monks join IGR as Associate members, 29 August

  • Chester, England, UK - Chester Centurions founded, 7 October

  • Leeds, England, UK - Leeds Hunters become Full members of IGR, 16 October

  • Copenhagen, Denmark - Copenhagen Wolves reform after 7 years within the 'Pan Idræt' Danish LGBT sports group, 18 October

 

2018

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands - Amsterdam Lowlanders will host the ninth Bingham Cup, 7-10 June

  • Paris, France – Rugby 7s sees its first inclusion in the Gay Games

 

2019

  • Emerald Warriors will host the ninth Union Cup in Dublin, 3-5 May

 

 

 
 

 

 
       

 

                 
 

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