The Wallabies rugby team, including Israel Folau, have been invited to celebrate the Sydney Convicts’ win at the 2018 Bingham Cup.
The Convicts took home the Bingham Cup and the Bingham Shield at the three-day “World Cup of gay rugby” held in Amsterdam last weekend.
The trophy will be handed over to Rugby Australia at a celebratory event later this year, and the gay and inclusive team hope Folau and his Wallabies teammates will join them.
Folau came under intense criticism in April after writing on social media that “God’s plan” for gay people is “hell” unless they repent.
“We are celebrating our amazing victory in Amsterdam for now, but when we get home, our efforts will continue to make rugby union a more inclusive and welcoming community,” Convicts president Don Rose told News.com.au.
“To that end, we’ll extend invitations to our longtime allies at Rugby Australia, the Wallabies and the Waratahs, to help us celebrate when we bring the cup back to Sydney.”
The Convicts founder and International Gay Rugby chairman Andrew Purchas said this year’s tournament was the largest Bingham Cup yet, with 72 teams and 2500 players.
“The number of gay and inclusive rugby teams around the world has grown dramatically in the past four years, since we hosted the Bingham Cup in Sydney in 2014,” he said.
After the win, the Convicts announced that they’d raised $27,000 to fund research aimed at finding effective programs to eliminate homophobia in sport.
Research from Victoria’s Monash University has previously found close to three quarters of teenage athletes had heard teammates use gay slurs in the previous two weeks.
Backed by Rugby Australia, the research project will see Monash researcher Erik Denison and his team test anti-homophobia education programs delivered by six professional rugby players to teenage teams in Victoria.
“Many of the competitors at the Bingham Cup have left mainstream sport and have joined gay and inclusive rugby teams because they felt unwelcome and unsafe to play sport,” Denison told the Guardian.
“This is why research to find a solution to this discrimination is so important. There has been lots of research on the problem of homophobia in sport, but none focused on finding effective solutions.
“Homophobia in sport will not end on its own, which is why we need effective, proven programs to make sport more welcoming and safe for LGBT people.”