We recently caught up with the Village Spartans RUFC - Manchester and the North West's gay and inclusive rugby team. Here they talk about coming out and why they’re looking forward to the 2012 Bingham Cup.
The Spartans are renowned as Manchester and the North West's gay rugby team. Can you tell us a little bit about the team?
The Village Spartans was formed over a decade ago in 1999. The team currently plays competitively in the North West League - Division 5 East and we play each week on a Saturday between August/September and March/April with training on Wednesday evenings.
The Village Spartans is an inclusive rugby club – we welcome gay, bisexual and straight men. Our focus is on providing a supportive environment for gay men and we welcome all players of all abilities – from those starting out to veterans.
We recently won the bid to host the 2012 Bingham Cup, a biennial competition which is regarded as the “Gay Rugby World Cup.” This is the largest XV a side rugby tournament in the world outside the Rugby World Cup. Bringing it to Manchester is a great achievement and we look forward to getting 1,000 gay rugby players from round the world to Manchester! Register at www.binghamcup.com to find out more.
Village Spartans RUFC has been granted some community funding from Manchester Pride. Please can you tell us what this money will be used for and the difference it will make to your team?
The community funding recently given to us by Manchester Pride will enable us to do a number of things. The funds will be used in our preparations to host the Bingham Cup; for example on the website and marketing materials. Without the funding, the club would have found it particularly difficult to afford the set up costs involved, including the dedicated website and other IT functions.
What advice would you give to sports people who are thinking of coming out for the first time?
Coming out is a very significant time in anyone’s life, regardless of whether or not they are sports people. I suppose the important thing to remember is that there is plenty of support out there from a number of organisations. If, after coming out, people feel uncomfortable playing with “straight” teams, there are plenty of gay and gay friendly sports teams out there.
Can you tell us a little bit about any games you have coming up?
We have a number of league games still to play this season and we’re hoping to get promoted to a higher league next year, so we have a lot of hard work still to do. As well as our regular league games, we also have a couple of tours coming up, including:
• The Hadrian Cup, a yearly national gay rugby tournament held in Newcastle. We have won the cup for the last 2 years running, so we hope to retain it this year.
• The Union Cup, a European gay rugby tournament held every two years. This year, the competition will be held in Amsterdam and we’re in with a good chance of winning. We narrowly lost (3-0) in the final in 2009 to the tournament hosts, The Kings Cross Steelers so we hope that we can beat them this time.
Find out more at www.villagespartans.co.uk