Excitement builds as the countdown to Bingham Cup begins
One hundred days out from the Sydney arrival of the world cup of gay rugby, SX gets an exclusive preview of Bingham Cup Week. Reg Domingo reports.
This week marks 100 days out from the launch of the Bingham Cup in Sydney and preparations are well underway. Hundreds of players from over 15 countries and thousands of supporters are expected to descend on Sydney for the week-long event, which kicks off on Sunday, August 24.
And while the focus will be on the games, which are being played from Friday, August 29, to Sunday, August 31, Bingham Cup Sydney organisers have compiled a diverse program of social events to compliment the tournament.
“We have over 20 events during Bingham Cup week,” Bingham Cup Sydney events manager Jonny Bastin tells SX.
“We’re aiming to show off Sydney with events at iconic locations such as Bondi and the Opera House as well as in and around Oxford Street.
“Kicking off on Sunday, August 24 with welcome drinks, the week will feature a ‘Rugby Club Bar’ tour hosted by Maxi Shield, a ‘Sunset Social’ at Bondi, drinks at the Opera Bar, the Opening Ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the official Closing Awards and after-party at the Ivy,” Bastin says.
“Plus we’ll soon be announcing our three official Bingham Bars creating a hub of activity each night in Darlinghurst.”
Players and officials will also enjoy exclusive events, Bastin said, including “touch footy on the beach and a special rugby clinic hosted by Wallaby and Waratah players”.
“And each club will be invited to a photo shoot on the steps of the Opera House, so that everyone taking part has a great photo souvenir to take home with them.”
VIDEO: Check out the official Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 video
But it’s not just a one-group show with other community organisations joining the festivities.
“We’re very fortunate to have the support of some of Sydney’s largest community groups,” Bastin says.
“As part of the Bingham Cup week, Queer Screen will be showing an encore screening of The Rugby Player film at Event Cinemas and the Harbour City Bears will be hosting a pool party. Plus, there’ll be two BBQs by the soccer guys from Sydney Rangers FC and the Lifesavers with Pride.
“We’ve had heaps of behind the scenes support from Sydney Mardi Gras too, which is great.”
Moreover, Bastin says the Bingham Cup is not just for guys. Indeed, this Sydney tournament will feature, for the first time ever, rugby matches for female teams.
“So we’ll soon be announcing some special female events too.”
Two standouts are undoubtedly Bingham Cup Sydney’s opening and closing events.
“The Bingham Cup Opening Ceremony will be held at the Foundation Hall of the Museum of Contemporary Art on Thursday, August 28,” Bastin says. “This Australian extravaganza is the official opening, welcoming the Bingham Cup and all the gay rugby teams from around the world to Sydney with lots of surprises and great entertainment.
“Undoubtedly the highlight of the week for many will be the official Bingham Closing Party, a chance for rugby players to let their hair down at a massive party at the Ivy. We’re not revealing much just yet, but expect Australia’s best DJs, some sexy surprise acts and hundreds of hot rugby players from around the world.”
Bastin, who runs the popular Honey parties, says the program is the culmination of months of work and planning.
“Sydney won the right to host the Bingham Cup in October 2012, but work started before then. There’s a great team on the organising committee plus lots of helpers and volunteers all working together to ensure this will be the best organised and most enjoyable Bingham Cup event to date.”
And for Bastin, the best thing has been “knowing that we’re going to deliver our visitors and locals an unforgettable experience in Sydney at the end of August”.
“It will be like a mini Mardi Gras.”
Top image: The Sydney Convicts’ JimBob Cousin and Shaun Powyer. Photo: Anthony Gattari
Bingham Cup Sydney, August 24-31. Go to binghamcup.com.
MORE THAN JUST A GAME
The Bingham Cup Sydney is not just a rugby tournament and a week of parties. Organisers are seizing the opportunity to use the event as a platform for change.
“When we won the rights to host the Bingham Cup, we thought we just can just either make this a rugby tournament or we can use this as a catalyst to really generate social change,” Bingham Cup Sydney President Andrew Purchas said.
“Part of that was developing the anti-homophobia inclusion framework which includes all the professional football codes and cricket and we’ve also just launched the first international study to really understand and gauge how extensive homophobia is in sport.
“We’re hoping that this will draw a line in the sand of for us, to help us monitor and gauge this problem, and track how successful the initiatives we’re putting in place are going forward.
Take part in the first international study on homophobia in sports: outonethefields.com
VIDEO: Check out NSW Waratah's Adam Ashley-Cooper get behind Out on the Fields