INCLUSIVE Rugby was given a huge boost this week when Birmingham Bulls RFC confirmed the Union Cup – Europe’s premier LGBTQ+ tournament – is to not only go ahead in Birmingham in May 2021, but has garnered support from Welsh international rugby legend Gareth Thomas.
The Union Cup 2021 will see upward of 60 LGBTQ+ rugby teams from more than 18 countries battle it out in the Second City over the weekend of April 30-May 2.
Birmingham is the ninth host city of the cup and organisers expect to build on the legacy from the Dublin tournament in 2019 which attracted record crowds and was delivered with great acclaim within the wider community.
Alistair Burford, tournament director for Union Cup 2021, commented: “Birmingham Bulls RFC is thrilled to be the host club for the upcoming Union Cup 2021 in Birmingham. With COVID-19 prompting the postponement of the Bingham Cup until 2022, all eyes will be on the Union Cup 2021.
“Bringing the cup to Birmingham has been a dream of the Bulls for many years. Birmingham is the UK’s Second City and we’re looking to give our visiting teams and fans a first-class experience.”
Leading the ambassadors of Union Cup 2021, gay rugby icon Thomas, commented: “As one of the most important LGBT+ sporting events in Europe, I was honoured to get involved in last year’s Union Cup which broke down social barriers and bridged together communities across Europe.
“This is such an important, high-profile tournament that really does make a difference. I am proud to be an Ambassador for the Union Cup 2021 and breaking down barriers in LGBT+ sport.”
It is the intention, in 2021, to elevate the awareness of the tournament beyond the LGBT+ community and into the wider public realm.
David Cumpston, chairman of Birmingham Bulls, said: “This is an inclusive rugby tournament and it feels right to extend that inclusivity to all, irrespective of creed, colour, sexuality, gender or even if they’ve been to a rugby match before, or not!
“Sport is about fun and that’s our overarching principle – for everyone to have fun.
“All are welcome. What we promise you is a weekend of fantastic footwork, explosive rugby and a tournament that puts the Union Cup 2021 in Birmingham on to the world stage.”
Ben Owen, chairman at International Gay Rugby, added: “As rugby pitches around the world lie empty, the Union Cup Birmingham 2021 is a shining light at the end of the tunnel for LGBT+ rugby players across Europe.
“We look forward to working with Birmingham Bulls to make it the biggest celebration of diversity in rugby the UK has ever seen!”
The Bulls will host the tournament at Birmingham City University’s Pavilion, Moor Lane, from April 30 to May 2 and owners of Guinness and Bacardi, drinks giant Diageo PLC, has already stepped forward to offer its support to the competition.