Caledonian Thebans LGBTI-friendly rugby club to make history

Players from Caledonian Thebans RFC. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Players from Caledonian Thebans RFC. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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A CAPITAL rugby club which includes gay players is making sporting and equal rights history – when they compete against a gay-friendly team from Glasgow at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Up until October last year, Caledonian Thebans RFC – based in the Capital – were the country’s only rugby club to welcome players from the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community.

Picture: Ian Georgeson

Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Thebans may have been founded over 14 years ago, but up until now they had not had opportunity to play another side with LGBTI players.

Now the team are set to embrace a new, inclusive era in the sport when they compete in a Scottish derby at Murrayfield Stadium, against Glasgow Alphas RUFC.

Owen Grechan, chairman of the Caledonian Thebans RFC, said: “Rugby has always been an inclusive sport, but there is still demand for teams like ours.

“We’re here for any player who may lack the confidence to join a mainstream club, whatever their sexuality or experience.”

The Thebans now have a mix of 40 gay and straight players, veterans and beginners – a mix reflected in the growing number of gay friendly clubs in London, Paris, Sydney and Seattle.

In May this year over 30 such teams, including the Thebans, will meet in Nashville to contest the Bingham Cup – the biennial world championships for inclusive clubs. This follows their success in June last year, when they came runner up in the Silver Plate Final in Brussels.

Following the introduction of Scotland’s second inclusive team, David Probert, a Theban player, said this shows the country is becoming more “diverse, tolerant and inclusive” towards the LGBTI community.

He said: “Although rugby has always been really inclusive for the gay community, many have found it hard to get into.

“Many have a lack of confidence because of their sexuality and I think this is because there is a lack of gay role models in sports like rugby.

“For example in football, there aren’t really any gay role models that stand out.

“The stereotypical images of these sports put people in the LGBTI communities off getting involved.”

Mr Probert said the team has been welcomed by the city – after their last annual meeting saw over 200 visitors.

The Thebans are based at Edinburgh’s BT Murrayfield Stadium and are in partnership with Murrayfield Wanderers FC. In the past they have competed with both mainstream and inclusive rugby clubs across the UK and Europe.

But the founding of Glasgow Alphas RUFC means there is a stronger chance of sending two gay-friendly teams to future tournaments.

The Thebans v Glasgow Alphas will take place at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday February 27, at 12.30pm.

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com