USA Rugby and International Gay Rugby sign Memorandum of Understanding to eliminate homophobia in Rugby

BOULDER, Colo. - USA Rugby signed a memorandum of understanding with International Gay Rugby (IGR) Thursday, September 10, setting forth a partnership that will see the national governing body for the sport of rugby union in the United States promote a diverse and inclusive environment in all levels of Rugby, working to end homophobia in all areas of the game.

In March 2015, IGR recently signed an agreement with World Rugby to collaborate on the promotion of equality and inclusivity in rugby around the world, actively seeking to globally remove homophobia from the game. The agreement with USA Rugby focuses mainly on the domestic side of the game in the United States to ensure registered members of USA Rugby are provided with the tools and education necessary to combat discrimination, be it based on sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, or identification.

USA Rugby recognizes the right of any player, official, coach, and spectator to be involved in rugby without bullying, discrimination, or exclusion of any kind, and celebrates the differences that make its members unique.

Nigel Melville, CEO of USA Rugby said "USA Rugby is thrilled to be joining IGR in the advancement of diversity and inclusion throughout the sport of rugby, as well to eliminate homophobia from the game. Following in World Rugby's footsteps, we are steadfast in ensuring that rugby remains and continues to grow as a sport for individuals from all walks of life."

USA Rugby will work with its own member associations, clubs, and unions to improve acceptance of LGBT members, provide educational tools to support in the elimination of perceived and institutionalized homophobia in the game, and help support IGR events.

"IGR is very proud of the leadership that USA Rugby continues to show around equality, diversity and inclusion in Rugby. The signing of this agreement is a great example of the commitment of USA Rugby to eliminating homophobia from the sport at all levels. We look forward to our continued partnership in creating a safe and homophobia free environment for all players, proving that rugby is the most inclusive sport in the United States and in the World." Jeff Wilson, Chairman of International Gay Rugby (IGR) said.

IGR provides its 56 member clubs in fifteen countries developmental support and resources in several aspects of club organization through leadership and community engagement . Also, IGR member clubs host global, continental and regional tournaments and events celebrating the diversity and inclusion rugby community. The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament is the flagship global event for IGR Member Clubs. Named after a gay American rugby player who died on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, the Bingham Cup is IGR's World Cup of gay and inclusive rugby.

The Nashville Grizzlies RFC will host the 2016 Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament in the "Music City" of Nashville, Tennessee from Monday, May 22 through Sunday, May 29. This will be the first since 2010 that the tournament has been held in the USA and is the first time it has ever been held in the mid-south.

"The Organizing Committee is excited to partner with USA Rugby" said Jon Glassmeyer, the president of the Mark Kendall Bingham Cup 2016 Organizing Committee. "This agreement demonstrates USA Rugby's commitment to inclusiveness and sets an example for other national unions around the world."