Irish LGBTQ+ rugby clubs to make history at Union Cup 2023

This year will see the Cork Hellhounds making its Union Cup debut and the Emerald Warriors sending a women's team to the tournament for the first time.

The image is a split screen of the Cork Hellhounds and the Emerald Warriors Azure team who will compete in the 2023 Union Cup.
Image: @CorkHellhounds via Twitter/Emerald Warriors

In 2023, two Irish LGBTQ+ inclusive rugby clubs are set to take part in the IGR Union Cup tournament for the first time ever.

Last held in Dublin in 2019, this year’s tournament, taking place in Birmingham later this week, will be the first in four years after the 2021 games were postponed due to the Covid 19 pandemic. It will see a total of five Irish teams, hailing from the Emerald Warriors and the Cork Hellhounds, among the 47 teams set to compete. 

The Emerald Warriors RFC will sport the largest number of players to date, with 100 participants competing across four teams. Along with the Green, Navy and Teal teams contending in the men’s cups, the Azure team will make its IGR Union Cup 2023 debut by competing in the women’s tens tournament.


Speaking about the team’s inclusion, Azure captain Jessica Elmes said, “I’m absolutely honoured to be captaining Emerald Warriors first female identifying team as we represent our club and country at Union Cup in Birmingham. 

“Many of us had never played rugby before and it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come in just 10 short weeks, thanks to the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of our coaches and players. I’m immensely proud of our Azure team and can’t wait to see how it comes together on the pitch this weekend!”


Also making its tournament debut, the Cork Hellhounds will be among the 12 teams fighting it out for the Beorma Cup.

Vice-President and Communications Officer for the Cork Hellhounds RFC, Scott De Buitlír, shared the team’s excitement about participating in the competition. “We can’t wait to travel to Birmingham and represent Cork as a debutant team at the Union Cup this year.

“Months of preparation and training have led us to this moment, and we have a great group of players and supporters travelling to show the rest of the gay and inclusive rugby community what being a Cork Hellhound is all about.”

He also thanked the community for its support: “We’re also delighted and humbled by the level of support from the Cork community as we raised funds for our Union Cup campaign, from bake sales to kiss-a-hound auctions at Chambers earlier this year! It has been a lot of fun to get here, and we’re looking forward to the weekend ahead.”

The ninth IGR Union Cup 2023 tournament kicks off this Thursday, April 27, and runs until April 30 at BCU Moor Lane Pavilion, Birmingham. GCN wishes all the Irish teams the very best of luck in all their matches.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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