From Preston to Portugal: What is International Gay Rugby?

An inclusive rugby team from Preston are competing on an international stage – but what exactly is International Gay Rugby?

International Gay Rugby (IGR) is a community of more than 100 gay and inclusive rugby union teams, including several from the North West.

IGR operate from within the world of inclusive rugby, a sporting focus aimed at promoting diversity, equality and providing a safe space for rugby players from a range of different backgrounds.

The organisation has members in over 20 different countries, including Lancashire’s very own inclusive rugby club – Typhoons RUFC.

The Typhoons welcome players of all different ages, genders and sexualities and play at Lightfoot Green Lane, the home of Preston Grasshoppers RFC.

Photo: The Typhoons RUFC rugby team at their home ground in Preston

The club compete in the IGR UK North West League, alongside three other LGBTQ+ inclusive rugby teams:

As well as hosting regional and national divisions, IGR also provide international tournaments, with both fostering a competitive spirit that has been welcomed by Typhoons chairperson Kris-Barber Midgley.

“There are clubs across the world that compete in IGR tournaments and leagues just like ours,” he said.

“A couple of years ago, our team won in the IGR Northern Development League and have since gone up into a higher tier of rugby. We have real aspirations of exceeding our past performance and doing some great things on the pitch this next year.”

The International stage is where the Typhoons have been able to truly test themselves against a range of talented teams and they were even victorious at the 2022 Bingham Cup in Ottawa, Canada.

The club merged with several other inclusive rugby teams to create a squad for the event and won the division over the course of the weekend.

Typhoons have also matched up against clubs from around the globe at some other organised events, including facing the Lisbon Dark Horses from Portugal at last year’s IGR Union Cup.

Having experienced multiple international IGR events with the club, Typhoons’ membership and recruitment officer Michael Hill believes the tournaments are an excellent way to celebrate unity.

“They’re brilliant weekends and brilliant tournaments. It broadens your network. They’re a great way to appreciate the growth of each other’s clubs,” said Hill.

Typhoons have been unable to build a team for this year’s Bingham Cup tournament in Rome, but are now setting their sights on a return to international rugby ahead of the Union Cup 2025 in Oslo, Norway.

Learn more about Typhoons RUFC here: