WHILE Wales’ rugby stars fight it out in South Africa this summer, another Welsh squad jets off to Ireland this week for a very different tour – the gay world cup.
Kicking off on Friday, the contest will play host to more than 30 sides from around the globe.
Some will have travelled as far as Australia to take part in the contest, which will be preceded by a lavish opening party on Thursday.
And just eight months after the real Rugby World Cup, the Welsh squad is hoping they won’t repeat Wales’ dismal performance last Autumn, when the side was knocked out in the pool stages after losing to Fiji.
The Cardiff Lions last year came fourth and this year are hoping to lift the Bingham Bowl.
Fly-half and former captain of the squad Justin Gyphion, of Llandaff, Cardiff, said: “The tournament kicks off on Friday and the finals will be held a couple of days later.
“We are hoping to do better than last year when we finished up in the top third of the teams in our level.”
According to the 27-year-old recruitment consultant, there is no difference in standards between gay and straight rugby teams.
He said: “In terms of the game and the rules, there is absolutely nothing different between the rugby teams, and in terms of the standards of the sides, these can be very high in teams playing in the upper leagues.
“Certain people just feel happier playing in circumstances where they won’t be discriminated against.”
Currently Nigel Owens is the only gay official working in the sport’s highest ranks.
In 2007, the 35-year-old referee from Pontyberem, West Wales, spoke of his mental struggle before admitting publicly he was gay.
The Bingham Cup will run from Friday June 13 until Sunday June 15 at Dublin University. A total of 34 teams from America, Australia, Ireland and Wales will compete in the tournament.