Cork’s LGBTQ+ rugby team ‘The Hellhounds’ met an important milestone as they were officially ratified as an IRFU club.
Cork Hellhounds RFC is an LGBTQ-inclusive Cork-based rugby club. Their vision is to promote and encourage rugby among the LGBTQ+ community and their allies in Cork and the wider Munster region.
The team trains weekly in Cork city, accessible to both beginning and experienced players.
President and founder of The Hellhounds, Adam O’Brien called the clubs ratification “surreal”. Vice President Scott De Buitleir spoke to CorkBeo about the team’s journey to becoming Ireland’s third, and Munster’s first, LGBTQ+ rugby club.
O’Brien was initially inspired to set up an LGBTQ+ club after playing with ‘The Emerald Warriors’ – an established LGBTQ+ rugby club based in Dublin.
After O’Brien returned to Cork, he began to set up The Hellhounds, putting out a callout with the backing of ‘The Gay Project’, a Cork-based LGBTQ+ organisation.
“It started with a Zoom call in September and there was about 12 who were originally up for giving it a go. We started off training at Monaghan Road Park and just went through the main basics from there.” says De Buitleir.
“The vast majority of people involved have no rugby experience atall. Gradually the word got out, we’ve got the support of The Gay Project, International Gay Rugby, and Munster Rugby.”
It is arguable that the lack of LGBTQ+ participation in Irish rugby is rooted in it’s homophobic culture, which is performed today. According to an article by The42, 17% of people within the LGBTQ+ community surveyed were members of sports clubs, highlighting a study which also showed that 84% of gay men and 82% of gay women had experienced the use of homophobic slurs in a sporting context.
Such reports demonstrate the need for LGBTQ+ spaces, in sports and beyond. Queer friendly and accessible spaces are essential to fostering skills, talents and relationships.
“Through inclusive teams like Warriors and Hellhounds we can show that it’s an accessible sport to the community and show they’ve just as much a right to be on the pitch as anyone else.”
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