The tournament was first held in 2002 in memory of 9/11 gay rugby hero Mark Bingham, one of the passengers who fought back against hijackers on board United flight 93. While Mark and all on the flight tragically lost their lives when the plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, it is widely recognised that through the actions of those brave individuals on board, the plane did not continue on to its intended target.
As a gay man and regular rugby player, Mark played for San Francisco Fog as well as helping to set up Gotham Knights in New York City. The Bingham Cup is held in honour of Mark’s memory and challenges stereotypes and perceptions of the LGBTQIA+ community. Mark’s legacy sees rugby players, supporters and staff from around the world coming together every two years in a celebration of equality, inclusivity and sportsmanship.
From its modest debut in 2002, the 2018 edition of the Bingham Cup in Amsterdam gathered 74 teams from 20 countries. The Bingham Cup has become the largest amateur rugby union tournaments in the world.
Administered by International Gay Rugby (IGR), the Bingham Cup hosting duties are awarded through a bidding process among the members of IGR. Nine cities have hosted the Bingham Cup since inception:
International Gay Rugby (IGR) was formed in 2000 when rugby teams from across the world came together because they wanted to form an organization that promoted rugby as an all-inclusive non-discriminatory sport which everyone can play, regardless of sexuality. Formally known as the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB), the formation of the IGR lead to the start of the Bingham Cup in 2002, which was originally known as the Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament. The goal of the IGR is to promote equality and diversity in rugby. Specifically, it strives to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and to provide opportunities for members of the LGBTQ+ community to compete in rugby. The IGR wants to improve tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQ+ athletes at all levels of the sport of rugby and ensuring that no individual shall be excluded from participating in rugby on the basis of sexual orientation or identification. Since 2002, the IGR has experienced incredible growth. As of November 2019, IGR is made up of 6,600+ members, 4,900+ players, 83 clubs, 148 teams spread over 20 countries.