Tributes flow after gay rugby’s godmother Alice Hoagland dies


alice hoagland mark bingham gay rugby international gay rugby
Photos: courtesy of International Gay Rugby

Gay rugby teams around the world have paid tribute to Mark Bingham’s mother Alice Hoagland, who died last month, as the godmother of their sport.

On September 11, 2001, openly gay rugby player Mark Bingham and three other men fought back against the terrorists who had hijacked their United Airlines flight.

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The men stormed the cockpit, forcing the plane down in a Pennsylvania field, killing all 44 on board but saving many other lives in Washington DC.

After Mark’s death, Alice began years of advocacy for LGBTIQ rights and aviation safety in her hero son’s name.

Alice was the biggest supporter of the biannual Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, known as the Bingham Cup, established in her son’s name.

The first Bingham Cup in 2002 consisted of eight teams and was hosted by its namesake’s home team, the San Franscisco Fog.

The Fog went on to win the inaugural tournament. Alice presented her son’s club with the trophy herself and players carried her off the field.

Alice later became a celebrity fixture at subsequent Cups, beloved by players.

She was “the surrogate mother for many rugby players who found a way forward for themselves through their involvement” in the sport, International Gay Rugby said.

Alice is also immortalised within the tournament in one of the prizes, the Hoagland Cup.

International Gay Rugby said Alice died on December 22 in her sleep at her California home after battling Addison’s disease. She was 71.

Australian gay rugby clubs pay tribute to Alice Hoagland

The Bingham Cup has grown every year since 2002 and is now the world’s largest amateur rugby event.

Amsterdam was the last host city in 2018, welcoming 74 teams competing. Every two years, Australia’s gay and inclusive rugby clubs travel to take part.

The clubs have shared on social media heartfelt tributes to Alice after her death.

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The Sydney Convicts, Australia’s first gay rugby team said many at the club had close relationships with her.

“Alice was very much the champion, and face of the Bingham Cup,” the club wrote on Facebook.

“Many of us have been fortunate to meet and enjoy a close relationship with Alice over the years.

“We celebrate the happy memories of warmth, energy and love that Alice brought to us, and many others in our community.”

The Convicts also posted a photo from the 2018 Cup that “perfectly captures Alice’s positivity and good spirit we will always remember.”

The Brisbane Hustlers wrote on Facebook, “We carry you in our hearts and minds. You made our world a better place.

“To paraphrase your son, Mark Bingham, you are a Goddess. All our love.”

Today the Sydney Convicts mourn the loss of Alice Hoagland who sadly passed away on 22 December 2020 aged 71. Alice was…

Posted by Sydney Convicts Rugby Club on Monday, January 18, 2021

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