The Union Cup – Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ inclusive rugby tournament – was originally set to be held in Birmingham in May 2021, but with ongoing international travel restrictions due to COVID-19, the three-day event was unfortunately cancelled earlier this year.
Fans and players alike, who worried that the cancellation might mean the end of the tournament altogether, were happy when earlier this week the tournament’s governing board announced that the event had been rescheduled for April 2023. The Union Cup 2023 is Europe’s premier inclusive rugby competition and will see more than 60 LGBTQ+ rugby teams from over 18 countries battling it out in Birmingham in two years’ time.
Alistair Burford, Tournament Director for Union Cup 2023 comments: “It was a heartbreaking decision to pull the tournament earlier this year, but we have enormous respect for the sport and a duty of care both to our players and the spectators coming to enjoy the weekend of rugby in Birmingham, so it was the right thing to do. We’re thrilled that IGR (International Gay Rugby) – the governing body – has given the Birmingham Bulls the opportunity to host the Union Cup tournament in 2023. It’s a huge thumbs up to Birmingham and means we can confidently reignite the plans we’d put into place to make this a true celebration of inclusive rugby.
“Bringing the Cup to Birmingham has been a dream of the Bulls for many years. Birmingham is the UK’s Second City and we’re looking to giving our visiting teams and fans a first-class experience in our Commonwealth city. It’s safe to say that the countdown is officially on!”
Birmingham will be the ninth city to host the tournament since its origination. Organisers are hoping to build upon the success of the Dublin-based tournament in 2019 which saw record-breaking crowds from a wider community of spectators. It remains a primary goal of the Union Cup to increase LGBTQ+ visibility in sport and into a broader public sphere.
David Cumpston, Chair of Birmingham Bulls commented: “This is an inclusive rugby tournament and it feels right to extend that inclusivity to all, irrespective of creed, colour, sexuality, gender or even if they’ve been to a rugby match before, or not! Sport is about fun and that’s our overarching principle; for everyone to have fun.
“All are welcome. What we promise you is a weekend of fantastic footwork, explosive rugby and a tournament that puts the Union Cup 2023 in Birmingham onto the world stage”.
Karl Ainscough-Gates, Chairperson at International Gay Rugby added: “The Union Cup Birmingham 2023 is a shining light for LGBT+ rugby players across Europe. We look forward to working with Birmingham Bulls to make it the biggest celebration of diversity in rugby the UK has ever seen!”
The Bulls will host the tournament at Birmingham City University’s Pavilion, Moor Lane from April 28, 2023.
For more information and updates, visit birminghambullsrfc.com.
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