ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The St. Louis Crusaders men's rugby team claimed their first international title at the 2018 Bingham Cup hosted in Amsterdam from June 2-11. The group, comprised of players from St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Chicago, came together in the three days of tournament play to bring home the Challenger Shield to the Midwest and finished 13th in the Challenger Division.

CrusadersBinghamCup18"Having played against both teams but never on the same side, I wondered how we would fair in the competition," said Doug Gaehle, voted man of the tournament. "It was through strong leadership and our passion for the game that helped us come together and win. Winning the Challenger Shield put the St. Louis Crusaders on the map as far as a team to look out for, but we couldn't have done it without the help of our Chicago and Milwaukee brothers."

The Crusaders opened the tournament with a loss to the Swansea Vikings but rallied during the second match to claim a hard-fought 17-15 victory over the Emerald Warriors. Seed play ended with a loss against the Wessex Wyverns. In the afternoon of the second day, they faced the Melbourne Charges for the Quarter Final who defeated them 20-7. The team came back to dominate the Semi-Final, and Final games played on the third day. The semi-final was against the Kings Cross Steelers where they handed their English opponent a 26-7 defeat. At the final, the Crusaders swept the floor with Toronto Muddy York producing a 31-0 victory.

"I am so proud of everyone that pushed themselves to the limit every game," said Gaehle. "We earned our victories and, even in our losses, showed the other teams that we were a force to be reckoned with! The experiences on and off the pitch this weekend reminded me of why I play rugby. It’s for the bulldozing runs down the field, the rush of adrenaline when going into a tackle, supporting your mates when they score, and for the fantastic camaraderie shared among friends after a hard-fought match."

Two years ago, the team reached the semi-finals of the Challenger Division just short of taking home a trophy. Nashville played host to the 2016 tournament during Memorial Day weekend bringing the event back to the United States since 2010. The group played five matches against predominately North American teams and was the first time the entire team entered into the competition.

"It's incredible to see how much we have grown over the past couple years," said Robert Fischer, team president. "I hope that our achievements help inspire other LGBTQ+ members to participate in sports whether it be rugby or not. Sports teams should welcome players regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation at any level."

The Bingham Cup is the biennial, international world championship of LGBTQIA+ and inclusive rugby clubs. It honors the memory of internationally-known 9/11 hero, Mark Bingham. He was part of the group that stormed the cockpit on United Airlines Flight 93 to try and retake the plane. Bingham was also fundamental in establishing two of America's premium gay rugby clubs — the San Francisco Fog and the Gotham Knights. Every two years, participants and supporters celebrate equality and diversity in rugby. Either Ottawa, Canada or Mendoza, Argentina will host the Bingham Cup in 2020.



INstrgram circle Facebookcircle twittercirlce2 tubblrcircle3 youtubecircle3VimeocirclePinterest Circle Icon