Bingham Cup 2014 - the man's in town - Green and Gold Rugby
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Bingham Cup 2014 – the man’s in town

Bingham Cup 2014 – the man’s in town

Mark Kendall Bingham was Rugby Player who died on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. Along with others on that plane, he is credited with orchestrating a passenger rebellion to prevent the hijackers achieving their objective, believed to be the White House. 44 people died on United Flight 93 when it crashed into an open field in Pennsylvania after the Passenger action. They gave their lives to save numerous others. Mark was gay. He was a hero.

Below is a trailer for a documentary about the life and times of Mark Bingham

You can see the full film on ABC IView here:

A fellow G&GR associate takes up the story:

Mark Bingham was a close friend of mine. Yesterday marked 11 years since we lost him.
I have played in x4 Bingham Cups. Won 2 of them. Played in the Final in a 3rd. And ran 3rd in my final one.
I’m a straight guy. While a lot of my Brothers are gay, I have never been that way inclined.

Mark along with a handful of us started the San Francisco Fog in 2000 in a pub – where things of this nature start.
As a straight, married guy living in San Francisco with a bunch of Gay buddies , and after playing here at home since I was 4 years old, I thought it was a great idea for me to lend a hand.

I loved the idea of creating a place to be able to play for everyone. Gay, straight, black, white – if you had never seen a Rugby ball in your life that was cool. We would teach you. We had the opportunity to create a “Rugby Utopia” – and we did. I was very much the “token straight guy” in the early years – but it didn’t bother me and it didn’t bother them. We were all there for one thing – to play Football.

A year later and September rolls around. Needless to say it was pretty heavy. We knew Mark was on that plane as he was coming back for practice that evening.

In his honour we created the Bingham Cup.

The first was held in San Francisco in 2002. We were lucky winners in the Final against a tough as nails London team. The joy on the faces of my Brothers – who mostly had never won any kind of sporting endevor in their life was memorable – to say the least. I was interviewed by NPR (National Public Radio) before the tournament began (as the “token” i’d imagine) and was asked an interesting question. “What’s it like for a straight guy playing Gay Rugby?”.

I had not thought of it like that before and thought it was strange to do so. I told the guy, “Dude, I don’t play Gay Rugby. I play Rugby. It’s the same game they play in the UK/NZ and at home in Australia. Same rules. I just happen to play it with bunch of Gay guys.”

The second in 2004 was in London. It was a crazy week and ended with us going back-to-back after beating Manchester in the Final.
I carried the Bingham Cup back to San Francisco. When I checked in on British Airways I was upgraded to Business Class. The Cup rode in the spare seat next to me back to the City of Champions.

Later that year we created a Women’s team with the same ethos. Anyone, anywhere, any background, any size, you have a home here. We will teach you.

We also started going into local schools to run clinics on the same principles.

3rd Bingham Cup was in New York. Another crazy week with games played on a field out in the East River.
Had to rake the stones and glass off the field into huge mounds before each game. Classy.

We made the final where we faced a new team on the block – Sydney. Interestingly, started by another buddy of mine who played with me in San Francisco during the 1st Cup. Being an Aussie also he came home and started the Convicts. And what a team it was. Solid and tough all over the park. They beat us in the New York summer swealter by about 16-12 if I recall correctly.

The 4th and my final Cup in Dublin was in 2008. More new classy teams on the block included a gritty New York team who beat us for a shot at the Final. Sydney was already there waiting.

Sydney did the job on them quite easily from what I remember – which was not much. I got my teeth knockle out on the Final play of the game V’s New York.

Whats the point in all this? Not much aside from explaining that your sexuality means nothing. As did your ability mean nothing, your experience, your race or your religion.

It’s not as if you have to show some of kind of “Gay ID” in order to get a run.

What you do have to posses is a love for the game and a desire to have under-represented people play it.
Its the game the play in Heaven. Best to get everyone started on it down here before they get there right?

Mark is waiting. 

Mark is now in town. The Bingham Cup takes place in Woollahra this weekend. 

Sydney Convicts founder Andrew Purchas:

”We didn’t start the Sydney Convicts to make a political message or to change the world. We started it only to provide people the opportunity to play the great game of rugby.”

The inscription on the Mark Bingham Cup says it all:

We few, we happy few, we band of Brothers,
For he today who sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my Brother.”

The Mark Bingham Cup Games are on:
Friday (Pool Games 9:30 – 4:30),
Saturday (Quarter Finals and Women’s Games 8:30 – 4:30),
Sunday (Finals 8:30 – 4:00)

The Games will be played on Woollahra Oval 1, 2, 3 and Lyne Park Rose Bay.

Daily Admission is $10. Tickets from here:->

Spectators are encouraged to come along; leave the car at home and get public transport Buses 324, 325 or 326 from Edgecliff or Kings Cross stations.

Food and drink and numerous bars are available onsite; plus there will be no shortage of surprises.

(Parking is restricted. If you need to drive, parking may be available on O’Sulllivan Rd, Lyne Park and Lyne Park Tennis Courts, New South Rd, all in Rose Bay and 5 mins walk to Bingham Cup HQ).

  • Tahs_Man_Fan

    It’s absolutely great what all this means for rugby. To have the first gay team in any sporting code in the world, followed by the first comp for gay teams. This is how to make change, from the grassroots level and up. Not just regarding our attitudes towards the gay conmunity (as Dave pocock said “not every gay man is a pussy, and not every rugby player is a boof head). But also in our everyday life, whether it’s using derogatory words in everyday life and not realising the impact that has.

    Playing subbies rugby with Redfield old boys, we’ve come up against the convicts a few times. Tough as nails, and just there to play. And the best part is having a few beers after the game and having a laugh. That’s the beauty of rugby, greatest game on earth!!!

  • Pat Garnham

    I can’t watch on iView in the UK – is anyone able to point me in the direction of a way to watch it? Or download from ABC and pirate it over?

    • hugh

      Get in soon. “The Rugby Player” is only available on ABC iView until 9:30pm on 3 September 2014.

    • hugh


      Connect with the Film
      • Visit the film website —
      • Like THE RUGBY PLAYER on Facebook — TheRugbyPlayerFilm
      • Follow THE RUGBY PLAYER on Twitter — @rugbyplayerfilm
      • Make a tax-deductible charitable donation to support THE RUGBY PLAYER —

      How Can I Get My Own Copy?
      Purchase your deluxe, collector’s edition DVD of THE RUGBY PLAYER — signed by Mark’s mom, Alice Hoagland, and Director Scott Gracheff and containing special DVD extras found nowhere else. Anticipated delivery date is December 2014, dependent upon the film’s meeting theatrical and broadcast milestones.

      Be first in line to own a personal copy of THE RUGBY PLAYER and support the film’s progress around the world! A portion of the profits from the pre-sales will support the Mark Bingham Foundation and the work of Alice Hoagland.

      Order your deluxe DVD today for $35, and you will receive a confirmation number and instructions on how to claim your DVD when the delivery announcement is made. Price includes shipping within the Continental U.S. as well as California state sales tax. You can also order the official movie poster for THE RUGBY PLAYER (11×17 inches, full color, on sturdy poster stock) for $20. Makes a great holiday gift!

      Order online at

  • hugh

    ABC 7:30 report on the Bingham Cup.

    Click link above for video and transcript. Not sure if overseas readers can see the video off the ABC web site.

    4:21 in the video. Former Wallaby Adam Freier is playing hooker for the Melbourne Chargers. Wow.

    More detail and progress updates on the Bingham Cup here:

    Keep up to date on Twitter with #binghamcup and @BinghamCup2014.

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