When an international LGBTQ rugby tournament was cancelled earlier this year due to Covid-19, there was a risk it would not be rescheduled, but it is announced today that the Union Cup – Europe’s largest inclusive rugby tournament – is now to come to the Second City in April 2023.
The Union Cup 2023 is Europe’s premier inclusive rugby event and will see upward of 60 LGBTQ+ rugby teams from more than 18 countries battle it out in Brum over the weekend of 28th April 2023.
The plan had been for the tournament to take place in May 2021, but with international travel restrictions in place, and lockdown not fully eased, the difficult decision was made to cancel the tournament, which would have seen thousands of spectators and hundreds of rugby athletes descend into Birmingham for the three-day event.
Alistair Burford, Tournament Director for Union Cup 2023 comments: “It was a heartbreaking decision to pull the tournament earlier this year, but we have an enormous respect for the sport and a duty of care both to our players and the spectators coming to enjoy the weekend of rugby in Birmingham, so it was the right thing to do. We’re thrilled that IGR (International Gay Rugby) – the governing body – has given the Birmingham Bulls the opportunity to host the Union Cup tournament in 2023. It’s a huge thumbs up to Birmingham and means we can confidently reignite the plans we’d put into place to make this a true celebration of inclusive rugby”.
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 in our Commonwealth city. It’s safe to say that the countdown is officially on!”
Birmingham will be the ninth host city of the cup and organisers expect to build on the legacy from the Dublin tournament back in 2019 which saw record crowds and was delivered with great acclaim within the wider community. It remains the intention of Union Cup 2023 to further elevate the awareness of the tournament beyond the LGBT+ community and into the wider public realm.
David Cumpston, Chair of Birmingham Bulls commented: “This is an inclusive rugby tournament and it feels right to extend that inclusivity to all, irrespective of creed, colour, sexuality, gender or even if they’ve been to a rugby match before, or not! Sport is about fun and that’s our overarching principle; for everyone to have fun.
“All are welcome. What we promise you is a weekend of fantastic footwork, explosive rugby and a tournament that puts the Union Cup 2023 in Birmingham onto the world stage”.
Karl Ainscough-Gates, Chairperson at International Gay Rugby adds; “The Union Cup Birmingham 2023 is a shining light for LGBT+ rugby players across Europe. We look forward to working with Birmingham Bulls to make it the biggest celebration of diversity in rugby the UK has ever seen!”
The Bulls will host the tournament at Birmingham City University’s Pavilion, Moor Lane from April 28th, 2023.
For more information and updates, visit www.birminghambullsrfc.com