Bingham Cup provides platform for change

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Sydney Convicts, Melbourne Chargers and Brisbane Hustlers are hoping to take some silverware at next week’s Bingham Cup, but the competition is so much more than that for the players.

Amsterdam will play host to the gay rugby tournament, which has expanded to 66 teams around the globe and now includes a women’s competition, and the Chargers are the defending champions, having won the 2016 tournament in Nashville.

For many of the players and spectators, though, it goes beyond the rugby, with the Convicts and the Bingham Cup based on inclusion, no matter who you are.

Sydney's David Wang, who is travelling to his third Bingham Cup, had never really played sport before joining the Convicts, but now he isn’t sure where he would be without the team.

“I grew up playing no sports at all, the closest sport that I've ever played was chess,” he said.

“I wouldn't call that a physical sport at all.

“I think for me it was really more part of the community and the family side of it that really drawn me to it and then after, I've kind of started learning about the game, I think that just further grew my passion and love for the sport and for the club."

David Wang is heading to his third Bingham Cup. Photo: Sydney ConvictsThe culture of the club is one that all the players speak about as and Wang said it was that part of the club that had kept him involved for so long.

“If it wasn't for that (culture),  I wouldn't have been comfortable to actually show up and then now five years on, I love it, i see the boys as my family,” he said.

“Actually being part of the Sydney Convicts through the club, it's instilled the confidence me to come out and actually become an advocate within the community.

“I think having that kind of platform, it's hugely important and it has such a huge impact to the community.”

The Convicts’ role in Australian rugby has become even more important this year, after controversial comments from Wallabies superstar Israel Folau about homosexuality, providing a reminder of the inclusiveness of rugby as a sport.

“For me personally it makes such a huge importance in terms of having that kind of platform, being able to provide that support for people who are going through that experience themselves or who might be in a traumatic experience,” Wang said.

“Seeing the positive and having the advocates within the community only just instills for people to see there is positive and good in the world and to actually be comfortable to express who they are.”

The Bingham Cup kicks off on June 2, 2018 and runs until June 11.