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Bingham Cup coming this June

Every couple months I start typing an address in my email and Mark Bingham's name comes up. It's been over eight years since I was last able to send him a message, but I can't bring myself to delete the address. I was honored to be able to attend the Bingham Cup in 2006 when it was in New York, and it's wonderful to see it still going strong today. The latest installment takes place this June (18-20) in Minneapolis. If you've never been, it's an incredible event. I still don't know why these guys play full-contact rugby without pads, but I guess that's why they're playing rugby and I'm playing flag football.

More information about the event after the jump.

Bingham Cup 2010 puts rugby at the center of the event with a venue and tournament structure conducive to serious, competitive sport. While emphasizing the competitive aspects of the tournament, we have not forgotten the sense of fraternity that makes rugby, and particularly IGRAB rugby, such an amazing sport. The memory of Mark Bingham will live on through Bingham Cup 2010, as will the values he lived by both on and off the field: loyalty, honor, brotherhood, courage and unity.

In the spirit of fraternity and inclusion, we have sought to keep registration fees low, increase the level of play and plan some of the most amazing celebrates you will ever see. Get ready. This is Bingham Cup 2010.

The Bingham Cup is a biannual international, non-professional, gay rugby union tournament, first held in 2002. The tournament was named after Mark Bingham, a former University of California - Berkeley rugby star. Bingham died in the September 11, 2001 attacks on board United Airlines Flight 93.

The Bingham Cup was first hosted by the San Francisco Fog RFC, Mark Bingham's home team. That year, eight teams traveled to California to compete over two days with Fog RFC coming out on top as the tournament's first winners. With each of the following tournaments, The Bingham Cup has become has become bigger and better. Minneapolis looks to be no different.

Mark was a successful public relations executive who'd played rugby for the perennial national champions, UC Berkeley. His love of the game led him to help establish Fog RFC. The Fog, in contrast to his previous teams, was a newly formed club that hoped to join the competitive Northern California Rugby Football Union (NCRFU) as its first team geared primarily toward gay men and men of color.

Most of the Fog were complete novices to the game, but Mark started showing up anyway. He coached, cajoled, and crashed through their practices, and played No. 8 in their first two friendly matches. He also played in their first tournament (where he promptly dislocated his shoulder). He taught his teammates his favorite rugby songs and made them feel like we were part of something bigger than themselves. That was early 2001.

Over the summer the Fog gained entry into the NCRFU. Mark, traveling in Europe, let them know how proud he was of the club's achievement. He explained that in being a part of a rugby team comprised entirely of gay men, he "finally felt accepted as a gay man and a rugby player." His two worlds were one for the first time.

Mark never got another opportunity to play for the Fog. He was aboard United flight 93 when it crashed in rural Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Rugby gave Mark the opportunity to be his true self: a gay man, an athlete, a friend, a son...and our brother. The best way for us to honor his memory is to carry on the amazing legacy he left behind.

The Minneapolis Mayhem Rugby Football Club is one of the nation's few male rugby clubs that makes the sport accessible to traditionally underrepresented groups, including gay men. Our goal is to foster local, regional, national and international participation and competition in the game of Rugby Union Football, and to create an environment where members of the community can learn the laws and practice of Rugby, thus improving their capabilities as players.

Since forming in 2005, Mayhem RFC has been fortunate enough to play against teams from Minnesota, across the country, and around the world. Mayhem RFC is a member of the Minnesota Rugby Football Union (MNRFU), the Midwest Rugby Union, USA Rugby, and the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB).

Mayhem RFC competed at The Bingham Cup tournaments in New York and Dublin, finishing third in the Plate Division in 2008. Mayhem RFC bid to host Bingham Cup 2010 in Minneapolis. In January 2009, they were awarded hosting rights and Bingham Cup 2010 looks to be the best tournament to date.

Our history may be brief, but our team continues to build our skills as players, our bond as teammates and our relationships as friends. Our goal is simple: play rugby, have fun and keep moving forward.