As the 2014 Bingham Cup kicked off its first day of competition in Sydney, Australia, on August 29, the International Rugby Board (IRB) endorsed the three days of competition. The IRB is believed to the be the first major international sporting federation to publicly acknowledge and support a gay sporting event.
Brett Gosper, chief executive of the IRB, wrote in his official endorsement:
Rugby recognizes sport's wider responsibility to society and its ability to drive social change. Sport can cross barriers. Sport boosts self-esteem and Sport promotes inclusivity and celebrates diversity. We are proud as Rugby grows across every continent that the sport's strong values of solidarity, integrity, discipline, respect and passion still make a real difference in modern society.
The Bingham Cup is a symbol of the power of sport to drive social change. It has opened hearts and minds and will continue to inspire future generations to participate, to express themselves and to have fun.
The news comes after Jeff Wilson, the chairman of the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB), was invited to be the first openly gay delegate at a recent IRB conference. The hope is that this will help legitimize IGRAB in the eyes of international rugby.
In addition to the endorsement, the Bingham Cup has been responsible for setting a new anti-discrimination precedent in sports both in Australia and worldwide. Prior to the start of competition, the five major sports leagues in the country signed a commitment to end homophobia in sport.
"We should commend and celebrate the support around the world to address homophobia and discrimination in sport," John Eales, a former Australian rugby union player and current board member of the Australian Rugby Union, said. "There is still a great deal of work to do, but I'm hopefully we'll soon see a time when athletes at all levels feel comfortable being open about their sexuality and playing the sports they love without fear of discrimination."