• New “Pioneers Cup” launched to recognise history and achievements of LGB rugby

  • Latest activity by the Steelers, the world’s first gay rugby union team, to mark the 20th anniversary of its founding

    Two of the world’s oldest gay rugby union teams, London’s Kings Cross Steelers Rugby Football Club and the Manchester Village Spartans Rugby Football Club, today announce plans to reprise their historic face-off in 1999 tomorrow at Memorial Park, West Ham, in London.

    The match kicks off a new annual derby between the two clubs, which aims to permanently recognise the long history and achievements of British gay and inclusive rugby clubs and their members. This year’s game will be hosted by the Kings Cross Steelers at their home grounds and will see each club bring over 120 players across a range of experience and skill levels play in a series of three matches to win The Pioneers Cup.

    Alex Smith, Kings Cross Steelers Club Chairman, said: “Rugby has always been front and centre of who the Steelers are so this is as much about a celebration of the sport as it is about how far the club and LGBT rights have come since six founding members gathered at the Central Station pub in Kings Cross 20 years ago. I can’t think of a better way to recognise that than by establishing an annual derby against our historic northern adversaries in this inaugural The Pioneers Cup match.

    Matt Whiteley, Manchester Village Spartans Club Chairman, said: “If you’d have told me when I was watching the first ever game between the Spartans and Steelers that nearly two decades later the clubs would be fielding three sides against each other, I’m sure I’d have laughed at you.  But this event doesn’t just show the number of people our clubs have brought into the sport and the phenomenal growth in gay men playing rugby.  The quality of rugby now being played by both clubs is at a level few would’ve anticipated.  I’m sure the games will be a real spectacle and I can’t wait for it to happen.

    The creation of The Pioneers Cup comes as the Kings Cross Steelers celebrates its 20th anniversary as the world’s first gay rugby union team. In addition to celebrating the club’s achievements, the 2015-2016 season aims to promote further diversity in the sport of rugby as well as recognise the advancement of LGBT rights over the last two decades. The Steelers will cap off the season with its 4th annual variety show at Heaven nightclub on 6 May.

    This spring both clubs will compete at the biennial Bingham Cup, the gay rugby world cup tournament, in Nashville, Tennessee on 26-29 May 2016.

    For more information about the Kings Cross Steelers, including its full fixtures schedule, its history and how to join the club, go to www.kxsrfc.com. You can also follow the club on Twitter @KXSteelers.

    For more information about the Manchester Village Spartans, including its full fixtures schedule, its history and how to join the club, go to http://www.villagespartans.co.uk/. You can also follow the club on Facebook at www.facebook.com/villagespartans or Twitter @MVSRUFC.

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