- Rugby icon Gareth Thomas will champion Birmingham as it gets ready to host the Union Cup.
If you like beary, burly gay and bi rugby lads, Birmingham in England will be the place to be in 2021.
The city is getting reading to host LGBT+ teams from across Europe for The Union Cup 2021.
And they host LGBT+ team, Birmingham Bulls RFC, has secured gay rugby’s greatest star, Gareth Thomas, as their ambassador for the tournament.
They expect to see as many as 60 teams from 18 countries battle it out for the cup. Today they’ve started their one-year countdown to the competition which will run from 30 April to 2 May 2021.
Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas was a star of international rugby for around 15 years. But as his career on the field came to an end, he came out as gay in 2009. His decision to go public changed attitudes in the game. And last September he also came out as HIV positive.
He said: ‘As one of the most important LGBT+ sporting events in Europe, I was honoured to get involved in last year’s Union Cup which broke down social barriers and bridged together communities across Europe.
‘This is such an important, high-profile tournament that really does make a difference.
‘I am proud to be an Ambassador for the Union Cup 2021 and breaking down barriers in LGBT+ sport.’
‘All eyes will be on the Union Cup’
The cup has been running every two years since 2005. So far Montpellier, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam, Bristol, Brussels, Madrid and Dublin have hosted.
The 2019 tournament in the Irish capital, Dublin, saw record crowds. Birmingham hopes to build on that success.
Alistair Burford, is tournament director for the event. He said with coronavirus delaying the Bingham Cup, the world cup of gay rugby, until 2022 the Union Cup will attract more attention.
‘Birmingham Bulls RFC is thrilled to be the host club for the upcoming Union Cup 2021 in Birmingham. With COVID-19 prompting the postponement of the Bingham Cup until 2022, all eyes will be on the Union Cup 2021.
‘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.’
The Bulls are promising an inclusive tournament for all ‘irrespective of creed, colour, sexuality, gender or even if they’ve been to a rugby match before’.