Rugby Stars in Manchester for Gay World Cup
MANCHESTER, England - The New York Gotham Knights are preparing to defend their title as world champions in Manchester this weekend as the city gets set to host the Bingham Cup - the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby.
They will compete against more than 30 clubs from 15 countries around the world - including Manchester's own Village Spartans RUFC - in the largest tournament in the Cup's history.
It is expected to attract more than 1,500 players and spectators from cities such as Amsterdam, Dublin, Ottawa, Stockholm, Sydney and Washington - all of which are important inbound leisure markets for the city's £5.8bn tourism industry.
The city launched its bid to host the tournament back in July 2010 and enlisted the support of former England rugby World Cup champion, Ben Cohen MBE, and former British Lions and Wales captain, Gareth Thomas.
A powerful advocate of the gay rugby movement, Cohen said: "I'm passionate that anyone, regardless of their background, should be able to play rugby."
"Events such as this tournament show how rugby has become more inclusive and it also helps break down barriers and bring more people into the sport."
Thomas, meanwhile, will host the tournament’s Gala Dinner at The Palace Hotel on Sunday, 3 June.
Andrew Stokes, chief executive of Marketing Manchester, said: "Manchester has one of the largest gay communities in the UK and is a true sporting city in every sense of the word.
"We recognise the importance of hosting international tournaments and have an impressive track record of delivering first class sporting events. As such, we are an ideal host city for the Bingham Cup and look forward welcoming the teams to our city."
The Bingham Cup takes places from Friday 1 - Sunday 3 June at Broughton Park RUFC.
The Cup is named after Mark Bingham, a gay rugby player who died on United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11 and is now one of biggest 15 a-side rugby union tournaments in the sporting calendar.
For a full list of fixtures, check out: www.binghamcup.com
You can also follow the tournament on Twitter: @Manchester2012