Inclusive Rugby

Inclusive Rugby

Inclusive Rugby was born in November 1995 with the formation of the first ever gay inclusive rugby union club, the Kings Cross Steelers RFC. The foundation of the club sparked the beginning of a much larger gay inclusive rugby movement and the eventual creation of the International Gay Rugby (Association and Board).

The objectives of the IGR is to promote equality and diversity in particular the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or identification and to promote good health through the playing of rugby.

There are some 85 inclusive rugby clubs in existence around the world today, 17 of which are based here in the United Kingdom. The IGR and its member clubs organise regional, national and international tournaments, such as the Bingham Cup and the Union Cup.

Why the need for inclusive rugby? In 2016, Sport England commissioned Pride Sport to undertake a study examining the participation of LGBT people in sport. The study concluded that there are legitimate concerns around the lack of physical activity and subsequent health inequalities in the LGBT Community and highlighted the significant barriers to participation in sport for LGBT people.

A Public Health Survey found that 55% of gay and bisexual men were not active enough to maintain good health, compared with 33% of inactive men in the general population.

Only 37% of LGBT people are members of a sports club or team, 76% of those people meet the national recommendation for physical activity.

This is compared to the 63% of LGBT people who are not members of any sports team or club, where only 38% meet the national recommendation.

There is a unique set of circumstances around prejudice, discrimination, concealment, expectations of rejection, and internalised stigma that can act as barriers for the LGBT community when wanting to join a sports club or team. And the most prevalent negative experiences of sport were at school and are responsible for their non-participation into adult life, with fears that the culture around sport is intimidating and unwelcoming for anyone that is “different”.

This is all part of the reason why we want to help break boundaries and create an inviting and inclusive rugby team to encourage the participation in the sport we’re passionate about.

Founded in 2016, the Berkshire Unicorns RFC are Berkshire’s first openly inclusive rugby club. Our aim is to bring together the Berkshire and West London gay and bisexual community and their straight allies to create an inclusive rugby team offering our members the opportunity to gain confidence and self-respect through the sport of rugby, which is long recognized as the ultimate character building sport – whilst also realizing the health benefits from regular physical exercise. We will tackle homophobia and negative stereotypes in rugby and the wider sporting community through our performance and sportsmanship on and off the pitch.

The Club’s membership is diverse, so whether you are a potential player or a supporter who would like to become more involved, you will be very welcome.