Irish women's+ rugby team to make history at international LGBTQ+ tournament

Four separate Emerald Warriors teams will compete at next week's Bingham Cup in Rome, as will the Cork Hellhounds.

Team photo of Irish women's+ rugby team the Emerald Warriors.
Image: @emeraldwarriors via Instagram

Ireland’s own Emerald Warriors, the oldest and leading LGBTQ+ rugby club in the country, will travel to Rome next week to compete in the Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, more commonly known as the Bingham Cup. The biennial world championship is a competition for LGBTQ+ and inclusive rugby teams, and this year, the Warriors will make history by sending Ireland’s first-ever women’s+ squad to the tournament.

First held in 2002, the Bingham Cup honours the legacy of Mark Bingham, an openly gay rugby player who died during the events of 9/11. Bingham had been onboard United Airlines Flight 93 and worked, with others, to thwart the hijackers’ plans to crash the plane in Washington DC. Thanks to the heroic effort of Bingham and others onboard Flight 93, the plane eventually crashed into an open field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The Warriors plan to travel to Rome this weekend with four teams, namely the Azure team, captained Marion Peltret, the Green team, captained by Graham Flaherty, the Navy team, captained Stephen Mulhall, and the Teal team, captained by Matt Ryan. The women’s+ Azure team debuts in the tournament after completing their first rugby Union Cup, Midnight 7s and Leinster League following their inception in February 2023.



Speaking on the honour of competing at the Bingham Cup, Emerald Warriors President Richie Fagan said: “The Warriors is committed to promoting inclusive rugby and the enjoyment of team sports. As an LGBT+ club it offers more than a nurturing environment for players to excel, but a community where the barriers to participation are lowered so that everyone is welcome.

“Thanks to this culture we will have our largest group ever travelling to the Bingham Cup with four Emerald Warriors teams competing, making us one of the top 5 contingents at this global tournament. We are optimistic as we head into the tournament with the Warriors at its highest ever ranking as an International Gay Rugby (IGR) club.”

‌Fagan continued: “The Bingham Cup offers an opportunity for us to represent Ireland at an international tournament to role model not only the best of Irish rugby, but also inclusivity bolstered by committed allies, from players beyond the LGBT+ community, and volunteers, to stakeholders.”

Shane Dune, Head Coach of the Emerald Warriors, similarly chimed in ahead of the club’s departure for Rome, saying: “This promises to be the best tournament yet for the Emerald Warriors! It is a great honour for all of us to represent our club and country. The coaching team have put a lot of planning and effort into training the players during the regular season. As Warriors we are a unique group, capable of anything, nothing is impossible for us. Let’s deliver on our potential.”

The Emerald Warriors will be one of as many as 140 inclusive rugby clubs travelling to the Italian capital to join the Bingham Cup’s opening ceremony on May 22. The Cork Hellhounds will also make their debut at the tournament.



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A post shared by Cork Hellhounds RFC (@corkhellhounds)

The competition will officially begin on May 23 and conclude on May 26.

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