History Gay & Inclusive Rugby

History Gay & Inclusive Rugby

pansyThe story of gay and inclusive rugby reads like a family tree, with births, name changes, separations and sadly deaths. It is for this very reason that we often refer to the many clubs around the world as a “family”.

The first stirrings of this family came in the 1980s with several southern hemisphere clubs attempting to get off the ground, but sadly not lasting long enough to become officially registered.

However, it was on 1st November 1995, twenty years ago, that the world’s first officially recognised gay rugby club, King’s Cross Steelers was founded in the United Kingdom.

In the two decades that have followed, a total of 83 clubs have been created around the world, 67 of which are active today, with 5 brand new clubs being founded this year alone. The main aim of each inclusive club is to provide a welcoming place for the LGBTI community to engage in sport, while challenging perceptions of gay people and fighting homophobia in the process.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Steelers, GayRugbyClubs.com proudly presents a timeline of the past twenty years of gay and inclusive rugby, clearly demonstrating how far the ‘family’ has come since 1995.


  • London, England, UK – 1st November, 6 gay men meet at the Central Station pub in the King’s Cross area of North London and agree to form a rugby club for gay and bisexual men. King’s Cross Steelers, the world’s first officially registered gay rugby club is founded


  • Manchester, England, UK – Manchester Village Spartans founded
  • Washington DC, USA – Washington Renegades founded
  • Wellington, New Zealand – Wellington Krazy Knights founded (disbanded)
  • Auckland, New Zealand – Ponsonby Heroes founded (disbanded)
  • Wellington, New Zealand – World’s first gay rugby match takes place between Wellington Krazy Knights & Ponsonby Heroes


  • San Francisco, CA, USA – San Francisco Fog founded
  • World Barbarians created
  • London, England, UK – World’s first gay rugby tournament takes place between King’s Cross Steelers, Manchester Village Spartans and Washington Renegades


  • Los Angeles, CA, USA – Los Angeles Rebellion founded
  • New York City, NY, USA – Gotham Knights founded
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – Buenos Aires Rugby founded (d. 2001)
  • Washington DC, USA – Washington Invitational tournament takes place
  • September 11, 2001 – Terrorist attacks across the northeast USA. United Airlines Flight 93 crashes into the ground near Shanksville PA, killing all 44 people onboard, including SF Fog’s Mark Kendall Bingham.


  • Seattle, WA, USA – Seattle Quake founded
  • Dallas, TX, USA – Dallas Diablos founded
  • Boston, MA, USA – Boston Ironsides founded
  • Vancouver, Canada – Vancouver Rogues founded (disbanded)
  • Edinburgh, Scotland – Caledonian Thebans founded
  • International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB) founded
  • San Francisco, CA, USA – The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament is hosted by

SF Fog.  Eight teams participate (Gotham Knights, Kings Cross Steelers, LA Rebellion, Manchester Village Spartans, SF Fog A, SF Fog B, Seattle Quake and Washington Renegades). The event would go on the be known as the first “Bingham Cup”.


  • Atlanta, GA, USA – Atlanta Bucks founded
  • Philadelphia, PA, USA – Philadelphia Gryphons founded
  • Chicago, IL, USA – Chicago Dragons founded
  • Houston, TX, USA – Houston Roughnecks founded (d. 2008)
  • Austin, TX, USA – Austin Lonestars founded (d. 2006)
  • Toronto, Canada – Muddy York founded
  • Dublin, Ireland – Emerald Warriors founded
  • Sydney, Australia – Sydney Convicts founded
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – Amsterdam NOP founded


  • Phoenix, AZ, USA – Phoenix Storm founded
  • Minneapolis, MN, USA – Minneapolis Mayhem founded
  • Charlotte, NC, USA – Charlotte Royals founded
  • Portland, OR, USA – Portland Avalanche founded (d. 2009)
  • Cardiff, Wales, UK – Cardiff Lions founded, 1 March
  • Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Hustlers founded (d. 2007, r. 2012)
  • Malmö, Sweden – Malmö Devilants founded (d. 2007)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark – Copenhagen Scrum founded (disbanded)
  • Grenoble, France – La Mêlée Alpine founded
  • Paris, France – Les Gaillards founded
  • Montpellier, France – Los Valents De Montpelhier founded
  • London, England, UK – The second Bingham Cup takes place in Esher, Surrey, hosted by the King’s Cross Steelers
  • Sydney & Brisbane, Australia – The first two games of the Purchas Cup are held, one game in Sydney, one in Brisbane. Named after the founder of the Sydney Convicts, Andrew “Fuzz” Purchas
  • Auckland, New Zealand – First trans-Tasman gay rugby match between Ponsonby Heroes and Brisbane Hustlers


  • San Diego, CA, USA – San Diego Armada founded, 10 February
  • Bristol, England, UK – Bristol Bisons founded, February
  • Montpellier, France – The first edition of the Union Cup is held, creating a biennial tournament for the clubs of Europe
  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its second year against the Brisbane Hustlers


  • Newcastle, England, UK – Newcastle Ravens founded, 1 May
  • Nashville, TN, USA – Nashville Grizzlies founded, 7 October
  • Paris, France – Les Coqs Festifs founded, with Paris becoming the first city to boast two gay rugby teams.
  • Toulouse, France – Tou’Win founded
  • New York City, NY, USA – The third Bingham Cup takes place on Randall’s Island, hosted by the Gotham Knights


  • Madison, WI, USA – Madison Minotaurs founded
  • North Carolina, USA – North Carolina Kodiaks founded (d. 2010)
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK – Ulster Titans founded (d. 2010)
  • Lyon, France – Rebelyons founded
  • Copenhagen, Denmark – The second Union Cup tournament takes place, hosted by the Copenhagen Scrum


  • Ottawa, Canada – Ottawa Wolves founded, 2 July
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – Amsterdam NOP become ARC Lowlanders
  • Dublin, Ireland – The fourth Bingham Cup takes place, hosted by the Emerald Warriors


  • Louis, MO, USA – St. Louis Crusaders founded
  • Denver, CO, USA – Denver Wildfire founded (d. 2011)
  • Melbourne, Australia – Melbourne Chargers founded
  • Lisbon, Portugal – Lisbon Dark Horses founded
  • London, England, UK – The third Union Cup tournament takes place at Memorial Recreation Ground, hosted by the King’s Cross Steelers
  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its third edition against the Melbourne Chargers


  • Kansas City, MO, USA – Kansas City Carnivores founded (d. 2014)
  • Denver, CO, USA – Colorado Rush founded, 10 October
  • Halifax, Canada – Scotian Storm is created but never formalised
  • Derby, England, UK – Derby Panthers founded (d. 2013)
  • Oporto, Portugal – Oporto Spartans founded (d. 2011)
  • Brussels, Belgium – Brussels Straffe Ketten founded
  • Minneapolis, MN, USA – The fifth Bingham Cup takes place, hosted by the Minneapolis Mayhem
  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its forth edition against the Melbourne Chargers


  • Columbus, OH, USA – Columbus Coyotes founded, 18 September
  • Birmingham, England, UK – Birmingham Bulls founded
  • Stockholm, Sweden – STHLM Berserkers founded
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – The fourth Union Cup tournament takes place, hosted by the ARC Lowlanders
  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its fifth edition against the Melbourne Chargers


  • Dallas, TX, USA – Dallas Lost Souls founded
  • Charleston, SC, USA – Charleston Blockade founded
  • Northampton, England, UK – Northampton Outlaws founded
  • Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Hustlers reform after a five year break
  • Berlin, Germany – Berlin Bruisers founded
  • Cape Town, South Africa – BLIGHT Rugby founded, 14 February
  • Manchester, England, UK – The sixth Bingham Cup takes place, hosted by the Manchester Village Spartans
  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its six edition against the Melbourne Chargers and Brisbane Hustlers
  • Brussels, Belgium – First Thalys Cup between Brussels Straffe Ketten and Amsterdam Lowlanders takes place, with Brussels winning 12-5. The match is named after the Thalys train that connect Brussels and Amsterdam.


  • Johannesburg, South Africa – Wham Rugby founded, 9 February
  • Boston, MA, USA – New England Valkyries founded, September
  • Washington DC, USA – Washington Scandals founded
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – Pampas Rugby Adapli founded
  • Leeds, England, UK – Leeds Hornets founded
  • Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand Falcons  Cologne, Germany – Cologne Crushers founded
  • Rome, Italy – Libera Rugby founded
  • Ferrara, Italy – Roosters Rugby 7 founded
  • Madrid, Spain – Madrid Titanes founded
  • Santiago, Chile – Titanes Rugby Club founded
  • Bristol, England, UK – The fifth Union Cup tournament takes place becoming the world second largest tournament after the Bingham Cup, attended by 20 teams, hosted by the Bristol Bisons
  • Brisbane, Australia – Sydney Convicts win the Purchas Cup in its seventh edition against the Melbourne Chargers and Brisbane Hustlers
  • London, England, UK – GayRugbyClubs.com founded, 19 July
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – The second Thalys Cup between Brussels Straffe Ketten and Amsterdam Lowlanders is held. Amsterdam won 38-22.


  • Sabadell, Spain – Els Dragons De La Mola founded
  • Southampton, England, UK – Wessex Wyverns founded
  • Montreal, Canada – L’Armada de Montréal founded
  • Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Hustlers win the Purchas Cup, defeating the Sydney Convicts who have kept the title throughout the tournament’s ten year history
  • Berlin, Germany – Berlin Bruisers host the first “Bash About”, with guest coach Gareth Thomas
  • London, England, UK – GayRugbyClubs.com v2 launched, 9 June
  • 15 July – GRC welcomes our 60th club, Titanes RC of Santiago, Chile (founded in 2013).

This is the first time in inclusive rugby’s 19 year history that 60 clubs have existed at one time

  • Sydney, Australia – The seventh Bingham Cup took place, hosted and once again won by the Sydney Convicts
  • London, England, UK – IGRAB announce a rebranding to become IGR (International Gay Rugby)
  • London, England, UK – IGR announce that Nashville Grizzlies will host the 2016 Bingham Cup, 19 November


  • London, England, UK – IGR rebranding continues as igrab.net is replaced by orgZürich, Switzerland – Zürich Rascals founded, 9 January.
  • Melbourne, Australia – History is made as Melbourne Chargers play Sydney Convicts as a curtain raiser at the AAMI Park Stadium prior to the Melbourne Rebels v NSW Waratahs game on 20th February. Chargers win 38-24.
  • Swansea, Wales – Swansea Vikings are founded, 26 April
  • Brussels, Belgium – The 6th Union Cup hosted by Straffe Ketten attended by 24 European teams. Cup won by Kings Cross Steelers.
  • France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland – ‘GRC en français’ launched, 27 July
  • Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand Falcons to host the Purchas Cup for the first time
  • Johannesburg, South Africa – Jozi Cats are founded, 20 August
  • Glasgow, Scotland, UK – Glasgow Alphas are founded, 22 September
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK – Belfast Azlans are founded, 11 October
  • London, England, UK – 1 November: Kings Cross Steelers celebrate 20 years of gay rugby by returning to Central Station pub in Kings Cross where the club was founded on 1 November 1995

Source: http://www.gayrugbyclubs.com/gayrugbyatimelineof83clubs/