“Plate in ’08!” That was the catchphrase used by the local Mayhem rugby team for nearly the past two years, as we prepared ourselves for a second showing at the biannual Bingham Cup rugby tournament. This year, it was hosted by the Dublin Emerald Warriors in Dublin, Ireland. Yup, that’s right, Ireland.
Our guys play internationally. We have continued to turn heads and earn a respectable name for ourselves among gay rugby teams worldwide. As captain of the team this year, I continually have been impressed by the dedication and skill the team has developed since our last Bingham Cup in 2006 in New York.
The Bingham Cup is virtually the world championship of gay rugby. More than 30 teams from all over the world competed for hardware in 2006, with upper-tier teams playing in the Cup and Bowl Divisions, and lower-tier teams in the Plate Division. In 2008, the Bowl and Plate Divisions were switched, and a Shield Division was added to the Cup, Plate, and Bowl Divisions to give the tournament four divisions in which teams competed for placement.
In 2006, the Mayhem came in fifth of ten teams in the lower Plate Division, and we looked forward to taking home the Plate trophy this time around. But with the changes in tournament structure, we knew we could advance beyond many of the lower-tier teams, and compete for the Bowl in 2008.
The Mayhem nailed their first match against the French Barbarians 22-10 in round one of pool play. Then came the match many of us had been waiting two years to repeat: Mayhem versus Convicts B Side, from Sydney, Australia. In 2006, the Mayhem first played this team in the tournament, losing a horrible shutout to their 31 points. We went into our 2008 Convicts match fired up, and prepared to dominate the Aussies. While we lost it 18-10, the Mayhem were the only team in our pool to score points against the Convicts, a victory for us.
Our third game of pool play resulted in a 17-5 win against the Ulster Titans, which meant a fourth game of pool play to determine if we would head to the Plate or Bowl Division. Although we played our best game of the tournament against the Dallas Diablos in our final match of pool play, we lost by a conversion, sending us to the quarterfinals of the Bowl Division, where we won a thrilling match as the only scoring team in the final seconds of sudden death overtime.
Our final match of the tournament came all too quickly against the Kings Cross Steelers B Side in the semifinals. Despite a sweaty, bloody match, the Steelers came out just a bit ahead for a 14-10 win. The Mayhem earned third place by default when the Philadelphia Gryphons conceded that match.
We came home in 2006, and we come home now, looking forward to our most competitive fall season yet, a time to continue to earn the respect of our local league teams, as our scores increase, and theirs come down.
To follow our team, visit www.mayhemrfc.com. And, for full scores from the 2008 Bingham Cup, visit www.binghamcup.com.