About Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020

Bingham Cup History

The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or Bingham Cup as it is more widely known, is the biennial world championships of gay and inclusive rugby.

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 LGBT+ 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:

  • 2002: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 2004: London, United Kingdom
  • 2006: New York City, NY, USA
  • 2008: Dublin, Ireland
  • 2010: Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • 2012: Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 2014: Sydney, Australia
  • 2016: Nashville, TN, USA
  • 2018: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bingham Cup 2020 will be celebrating its 10th edition and is expected to be one of the largest 15-a-side rugby tournaments in the world.

International Gay Rugby (IGR)

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.

Teams currently part of IGR: https://igrugby.org/members.htm

Board Members Ottawa 2020

President

Jean-François Laberge

From being a professional lifeguard to a CSIA Levell II ski instructor, to competing in all manor of sports (triathlons, soccer, volleyball, winter biathlon, etc.), Jean-François does not recall a day when sports were not part of his life. He joined the Ottawa Wolves seven years ago and participated in four Bingham Cups, including Nashville as Captain of the team. Jean-François is fully bilingual. Professionally, he has worked on Parliament Hill as a Page, Library of Parliament Guide, Hansard Documentation Officer, as a Lecturer at the Faculty of French Common Law of Ottawa University and is a Partner and Head of the Litigation Group at Low Murchison Radnoff LLP, one of Ottawa’s oldest law firms. Jean-François has and continues to sit on many Boards in the Ottawa region.

VP Tournament

Carl Pilon

Carl Pilon is a foreign service officer with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. It was only a few days after he arrived on posting in San Francisco in 2005 that he joined the Fog, with whom he played for two years. Upon his return to Ottawa he and his husband founded the Wolves, who played their first season in the Eastern Ontario Rugby Union in 2009, and their first Bingham Cup in Minneapolis in 2010. After being assigned to Stockholm, he joined the newly formed Berserkers, with whom he played until 2014. Upon returning to Ottawa in 2015 he reintegrated his Wolves family. His greatest achievements in rugby, apart from helping two IGR clubs get off the ground, is scoring winning tries (as a prop) in two different Bingham Cups for two different teams, in Minneapolis for the Wolves and Manchester for the Berserkers.

VP Finance

Dave Rose

Dave Rose first started playing rugby with the original players that formed the Ottawa Wolves RFC. He then served on the Board as Vice President, President and most notably was coach of the men’s side for 3 seasons. Dave currently sits on the Board of the Eastern Ontario Rugby Union as the Vice President Finance and Administration and has been in that position for the last 7 years. He also served for 2 years on the Audit Committee of Rugby Ontario.

VP Volunteers

Jay Smidt

Jay Smidt is one of the two founders of the Ottawa Wolves and is currently the Vice-President of the club. After moving to Ottawa from San Francisco in 2007 where his husband Carl played with the Fog, they found that they missed their rugby family and worked to build their own, launching the Wolves in 2008. In 2010 they moved to Stockholm at about the same time the Berserkers were getting started, where Jay was often a supporter and photographer for the team. He has attended 5 Bingham Cups; Dublin (2008), Minneapolis (2010), Manchester (2012), Nashville (2016) and Amsterdam (2018) as both a club representative and spectator. Jay is originally from the United States and has lived in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Ottawa, Stockholm and Tel Aviv. He has a background in finance and project administration and currently works for Global Affairs Canada as an Administrative Coordinator.

VP Events

Craig Sklenar

Craig has been involved in the rugby community since 2007. Joining the Chicago Dragons, Craig’s leadership of the team included two years as Fundraising Chair and two years as President. He helped guide the club through reorganization and growth leading to today’s robust club. Craig’s passion for rugby and commitment to the LGBTQ2A Community provided the drive to support organizations like Calgary Pride. For two years, Craig led the efforts to engage elected officials and government bodies as Director of Government Affairs for the organization. His role on the board also included the co-direction of the parade itself, organizing over 150 entries, 4,500 participants of an event that attracted over 60,000 people on the day itself. This included coordination with local events management and city staff to ensure the safety and organization of the parade was executed without issues. Craig brings this broad experience to the Ottawa wolves Bingham Board and is excited to host our IGR family in 2020.

Charbel Choueiri

Charbel has been involved in Rugby since joining the Ottawa Wolves in 2009. He served as Events coordinator on the Ottawa Wolves Board of Director and Treasurer for many years. Prior to working as an Executive Assistant to a Senior Canadian Government official, Charbel was the events coordinator for the Canadian AIDS Society from 1998 until 2003. During that time, he planned and organised various International Symposiums and managed the AIDS Walk Canada across the country. He was also a member of the organising committee of Capital Pride from 1999 to 2001.

VP Community

Nadine

Nadine has been an active player with the Ottawa Wolves Rugby Football Club since 2014, and has served on the Wolves’ Board of Directors for the past 4 years, including in her current role of President. Since emigrating from Lebanon as a child, Nadine has found a true home in Ottawa’s thriving sports community as a competitive athlete and taking on leadership roles in rugby, volleyball, basketball, fencing, and, most recently, Olympic lifting and powerlifting. Nadine also has over a decade of experience as a high-performance volleyball coach for teenage girls. She has sought to harness her leadership and experience in athletics, women’s empowerment, and her sense of community and diversity as a way to not only focus on strengthening and driving the expansion of the Ottawa Wolves’ men’s and women’s side but also strengthen its relationship within the LGBTQ2+ community. Off the pitch, you will probably find Nadine nursing a scotch and her most recent rugby injury.

Ottawa Wolves RFC

The Ottawa Wolves form a Rugby Football Club for men and women in Canada’s National Capital Region. The Club was founded by, among others, Carl Pilon and Jay Smidt in 2008 with the mission to promote and encourage participation in rugby among those who have traditionally been under-represented in the game. The team members are predominantly part of the LGBTQ+ community, but diverse in its make-up, and inclusive of everyone.

The club fielded its first side in the Eastern Ontario Rugby Union(EORU) Men’s Division II in 2009. That same year, the Wolves became a member of the International Gay Rugby.

The Wolves expanded in 2013 with the introduction of a women’s side. Out of the three IGR clubs in Canada, the Wolves are the only Canadian club to have an established women’s side. The Wolves are also very proud to have the first female president amongst all of the IGR clubs in the world. The Wolves women’s side competes in the Ligue provinciale de rugby (Québec).

The club traveled internationally in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 to take part in the Bingham Cup. During the very first tournament, in Minneapolis, the Wolves competed in the Bingham Spoon division but ultimately lost in the final. Two years later, the Wolves claimed the Hoagland Tribute Cup Consolation Prize at Bingham Cup VI in Manchester England. In 2014, the team traveled across the entire world to Sydney Australia to reach the finals of the Hoagland Cup, and in 2016 claimed the Hoagland Jug with a victory over the Madison Minotaurs in Nashville. In June 2018, the Wolves men’s and women’s sides travelled to the Netherlands where they competed for the Challenger Cup and the newly introduced Amanda Cup.

Initiatives

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Green

Bingham Cup 2020 strives to be a carbon neutral tournament through various green initiatives. To begin, all participants will receive an aluminum water bottle they can refill at nearby stations during the tournament, thereby eliminating the presence of single-use plastic bottles.

To help off-set the carbon footprint of each participant, the Bingham Cup 2020 will purchase and plant trees across the province of Ontario. This will help reduce greenhouse gases for generation to come.

Finally, all transportation during the tournament will be via Ottawa’s new environmentally-friendly light rail transit system, or on foot, further reducing the tournament’s carbon footprint.

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Legacy

The Bingham Cup is a true celebration of what inclusive rugby is all about. The 2020 edition of the tournament will ensure the values of Mark Bingham and IGR are celebrated, long after the tournament has left Ottawa, through its Legacy Initiative.

Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020 has partnered with the City of Ottawa and will dedicate significant funds for a capital improvement project to develop and upgrade a soccer pitch in the east end of the City into a new multi-sport field, benefitting the whole of the local sporting community.  A dedication ceremony is planned during the tournament at the newly upgraded natural-grass multi-sport pitch, where a Canadian Maple tree will be planted and Alice Hoagland – Mark Bingham’s mother, will unveil a plaque, officially naming the Mark Bingham Field at Ken Steele Park.

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Inclusivity and Social Development Initiative

Inclusivity and respect are core values of the great game of rugby.  Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020, through its Inclusivity and Social Development Initiative will ensure that the 2020 edition of the Bingham Cup leaves a lasting impact, long after the Bingham Cup leaves Ottawa.

Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020 commissioned Patrick Hunter, a well known 2-spirit Ojibway Woodland artist from Red Lake Ontario, to design the tournament’s logo.  Nature and his heritage are constant sources of inspiration for Patrick Hunter, allowing him to paint what he sees through a spiritual lens.  Bingham Cup Ottawa is incredibly proud of partnering with Patrick Hunter and celebrating Canada’s Indigenous talent.

Differently-abled athletes are not always at the forefront when organizing an amateur sporting event.  Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020 will be different.  For the first time ever in the history of the tournament, a Wheelchair Rugby (Murderball) exhibition match will be delivered at the University of Ottawa and players from the RugbyForAll movement will be showcased through scrimmaging on the finals’ pitch in between games.  Furthermore, Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020 is currently exploring the possibility of an all Trans-Athletes rugby exhibition match on finals’ day.

Trans-Athletes face unique challenges.  The Ottawa Wolves are proud to have Trans-Athletes as players and coaching staff in their club and have learned that the challenges faced by these athletes are too often overlooked.  Bingham Cup Ottawa 2020, in partnership with the Common Law Faculty at the University of Ottawa will host, during the Tournament, an international summit addressing the legal and social challenges faced by Trans-Athletes entitled Moving the Goal Post.”