WORLD’S 1st COMPETITIVE ANNUAL LEAGUE FOR GAY & INCLUSIVE RUGBY
A new league championship has been established for International Gay Rugby (IGR) clubs to compete against each other throughout the forthcoming Rugby Union Season 2018/19.
14 LGBT-Friendly clubs from Scotland, England and Wales will battle to be crowned, “UK IGR League Champions 2018/19” at the end of the season.
The first annual competition of its kind to exist on such a scale anywhere in the world, will be split into fixtures for northern and, separately, southern teams, to compete against each other until the end of the season.
An inaugural finals day will be hosted by Cardiff Lions RFC who will be participating in the southern fixtures. The host for future season’s play-offs will alternate between a northern and southern club each year.
Four teams trialled a ‘Gay League’ structure in 2017/18 by competing in the IGR Northern League – which saw Newcastle Ravens RUFC come out top of the table ahead of Leeds Hunters RUFC. Southern teams have previously competed against each other in “The Turing Cup” which shall be replaced by the new UK-wide championship.
This will be the first time, such a large, comprehensive championship league structure will exist for Gay & Inclusive Rugby Union teams from one region to compete against each other on an annual basis and is indicative of the phenomenal growth that gay and inclusive rugby is enjoying across the world – especially in England and the rest of the UK and Ireland.
There are now 20 IGR-affiliated clubs across the UK and Ireland eligible to participate in the new league with an estimated number of players in excess of 1500. Approximately 80% of members within Gay & Inclusive Rugby Union clubs identify as LGBT with 20% as straight.
Participation in the new UK league is not exclusive and clubs with multiple teams (such as Manchester Village Spartans RUFC, the world’s second-ever, 15-a-side gay Rugby Union club) will continue to play competitive rugby in local leagues such as the Halbro Northwest Intermediate League as well as the new IGR league.
Dean Bee, IGR Trustee for Europe who has established the new league commented, “Gay and Inclusive rugby has enjoyed exceptional growth in recent years with enough teams playing a good level of competitive rugby to maintain a permanent league structure across the UK.”
He continued, “We’re proud to see UK clubs joining forces to establish another first in the world of competitive Rugby Union, where Gay and Inclusive teams will be able to compete on an annual basis for the honour of being that season’s champions amongst their peers and friends in rugby.”
“Whilst there are two successful biennial, international tournaments for IGR teams to compete within, this is the first time so many teams will have a competition on their doorstep where they can build their rugby skills and confidence in a completely inclusive environment regardless of their sexuality – week in week out, through the whole rugby season.”