Sydney Convicts beat Brisbane Hustlers to retain Bingham Cup
The Sydney Convicts have retained the Bingham Cup after beating the Brisbane Hustlers 31-0 at Woollahra Oval in Rose Bay on Sunday.
Around 6000 people turned out for the thrilling grand final match, which saw the Convicts dominate the Hustlers, ensuring the cup stays in Sydney for another two years.
The Convicts took an early lead, eventually in front of the Hustlers 26-0 at halftime. While the second half started quietly, the Convicts took it home, finishing the game 31-0.
Among those cheering them on from the sidelines were Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, US ambassador to Australia John Berry and sporting stars such as Australian rugby league legend Steve Mortimer and openly gay Olympic gold medallist swimmer Daniel Kowalski.
The win is the Sydney Convicts’ fourth Bingham Cup victory, having claimed the cup in 2006, 2008 and 2012.
WATCH: Highlights from the Bingham Cup Grand Final
Sydney Convicts Captain Steve Thorne said that while the Convicts have won the Bingham Cup at previous tournaments, they don’t compare to the experience of winning at home.
“There has been so much excitement around this tournament for so long and the crowd was full of energy today and so this was quite special,” Thorne said.
“We have been travelling every two years for a decade to other countries to play and so to win on our home turf in front a massive crowd is really beyond anything we could have dreamed would come true.
“The level of rugby being played has also gone up significantly, which also shows the massive interest and commitment to play good, hard and tough rugby in the gay community.”
GALLERY: Sydney Convicts vs. Brisbane Hustlers in Bingham Cup Grand Final. View the full gallery here
John Blunt, Captain of Brisbane Hustlers, said it there was plenty of fierce competition to get into the grand final and he was proud his team for rising up to the challenge.
“We had to play the San Francisco Fog who were ranked as the number two team at two previous Bingham Cups.” Blunt said.
“We also played New Zealand who are really the dark horse of this competition and lived-up to their country’s reputation for playing some intense, high quality rugby. We also had to play Manchester, another top team.
“We are very excited that the Brisbane Hustlers reached the finals since we were only formed two years ago. Who knows where we are going be next time around,” said Blunt.
Proud President and Convicts founder congratulates the Hustlers on a game well played! pic.twitter.com/Wm7vHRzQWB— Bingham Cup 2014 (@BinghamCup2014) August 31, 2014
Bingham Cup Sydney President Andrew Purchas said the match capped off a memorable weekend of sport.
“We saw a spectacular game of rugby in the final and we had a very successful three days at the tournament, and ultimately that’s what is important,” said Bingham Cup Sydney President Andrew Purchas.
“In some respects the Southern Hemisphere dominated, winning the top three trophies: the Sydney Convicts A team won the Bingham Cup, the Melbourne Chargers won the runner up prize which is called the Bingham Plate, and the New Zealand Falcons won the lower-tier competition, called the Bingham Bowl. The Sydney Convicts C team also won the runner-up in the lower-tier, called the Bingham Shield.”
With the tournament now over, Purchas said the Sydney Convicts will continue their push to ensure Australian sporting organisations fulfil a commitment to implement policies to eliminate homophobia.
“We had a vision to put on more than a rugby tournament when we decided to host the Bingham Cup and we wanted to shine a spotlight on the issues of homophobia in sport,” Puchas said.
“This work will continue both in Australia and around the world. For example, later this year we will announce results of the first study on homophobia in sport and the largest study ever done, called Out on the Fields, which we commissioned.”
Melbourne Chargers beat San Francisco Fog to win Bingham Plate
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Chargers have won the Bingham Plate in a 31 to 10 grand final win over San Francisco Fog.
The recently formed team came out strongly in the first half scoring four tries with a half-time score of 26 nil. The Fog came out fighting with a strong defensive performance in the second half however, scoring two tries against the Chargers but eventually losing the grand final.
Melbourne Chargers Captain Iain Abbott said it was a tough competition but the win has put the club firmly in the spotlight.
GALLERY: Check out photos of Melbourne Chargers play against San Francisco Fog. View the full gallery here
“It’s been gruelling but we have made history today and everyone knows the Melbourne Chargers name from now on,” Abbott said. “We’re looking forward to Bingham in two years’ time – we’ll be there.”
Dany Samrath, Captain of San Francisco Fog, said it was encouraging to see gay rugby gather momentum, particularly down under.
“There are a lot of great teams that are coming out in this region who weren’t a part of Bingham in previous years,” he said. “This is great for the growth of gay rugby.”
New Zealand Falcons win Bingham Bowl
Another team making their Bingham Cup debut also performed well with the New Zealand Falcons going on to win the Bingham Bowl.
The Kiwis asserted their strength from the start with their passionate performance of the Haka.
New Zealand defeated Dublin’s Emerald Valkyries 25 to 19 in a tight match that was down to the wire with the Falcons scoring in the dying minutes of the game. In a man of the match performance, New Zealand Falcons player Jeffery Sione scored a hat trick, clinching three tries for the winning team.
GALLERY: Check out the New Zealand Falcons take on Ireland's Emerald Valkyries for the Bingham Bowl. View the full gallery here
New Zealand Falcon captain Jeremy Brankin said while the win is a bonus the real rush is playing for his country. “I couldn’t ask more from the boys we just gave it absolutely everything out on the field. It has been an amazing tournament. Playing for New Zealand is what puts a tingle down my spine. It’s awesome playing for your country and representing not only your country but the queer community there,” Brankin said.
GRAND FINALS RESULTS
Tier 1 Teams
Bingham Cup: Sydney Convicts A beat Brisbane Hustlers 31 to 0
Bingham Plate: Melbourne Chargers beat San Francisco Fog 31 to 10
Tier 2 Teams
Bingham Bowl: NZ Falcons beat Dublin’s Emerald Valkyries 25 to 19
Bingham Shield: Sydney Convicts C beat Chicago Dragons 12 to 5