Reading Renegades set sights on summer showdown – Reading Today Online

Reading Renegades are setting their sights on Rome for this year's International Gay Rugby tournament. Picture: Reading Renegades Rugby Football Club

ONE OF Reading’s rugby clubs is raising funds to take part in an international tournament this summer.

Reading Renegades Rugby Football Club is an inclusive rugby team which unites players from all walks of life, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ communities.

Based in Sonning, the club is now setting its sights on International Gay Rugby’s worldwide tournament.

Club chairman Tommy Snipe said of the club: “We look at inclusion through other lenses, such as social and economic inclusion, so you don’t have to be LGBTQ+ to join in.

“However we are a part of the International Gay Rugby programme, which hosts an international tournament every few years– the Bingham Cup.”

The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament is an international, non-professional rugby tournament first held in 2002, named after Mark Bingham.

It was established after Mark died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

Tommy explained: “We’ve never been able to the tournament before, but we’re finally in a position where we can move towards fundraising for it.

“Mark was part of the group of people who helped prevent one of the planes crashing into anything during the attacks.

“So it’s held in his memory as a continuation of his legacy, and this year’s event is taking place in Rome.”

It takes place over five days, with teams from around the world competing.

“We’re working on fundraising to get us there and subsidise some of the costs, and we’ve been working a lot with sponsors and supporters, too.

“The Blagrave Arms has helped us raise more than £800 with a drag bingo event and we’ve just held a pub quiz there to raise funds too.

“We’re also set to hold a burlesque evening hosted by Phantom Brewing Co in April.”

He explained that getting to the cup: “Would mean a lot to us as a club.

“We were set up in 2016, and we’ve had a bit of a difficult history as so many community organisations have.

“The pandemic almost threatened to wipe us out as a club.”

He explains that during the pandemic, the club lost the use of their training grounds and many of their coaches, too.

“We have a new home, new coaches, and financial stability– we feel like we’re back on track.

“So I would see taking part in the competition as a real culmination of those efforts, and a celebration of the work we and other have put in to the club.”

He explains that finding a safe space to take part in sport is becoming increasingly difficult for many communities.

“Representation is incredibly important; look at the talk around whether trans people should be participating in sport, which really impacted rugby back in 2022.

“They passed new gender participation policy which puts extra barriers in the way of trans people taking part, and that’s something we’re actively trying to tackle.

“The power of the sport is that it gives you a community, and many LGBTQ+ people don’t have access to a community where they feel safe.

“We want to provide a space where they can be who they are and feel safe while having fun playing rugby.”

He explains that this is particularly important for the health of those attending.

“There are so many benefits to sport in terms of mental and physical health, so we want to focus on not only are those people not only accepted but celebrated.”

More information about Reading Renegades Rugby Football Club is available via: readingrenegades.co.uk

They also have a GoFundMe page where donations can be made via: gofundme.com/f/reading-renegades-bingham-cup-2024

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