Gay and inclusive rugby teams will compete for the title of world champions in the Bingham Cup in Manchester this weekend.
The tournament, sponsored by the Rugby Football Union, is one of the largest men’s 15-a-side rugby union events in the sporting calendar outside of the World Cup.
World Cup winner Ben Cohen is a passionate supporter of what he describes a ‘fantastic tournament’.
“People come from around the world to be involved in it. I'm passionate that anyone, regardless of their background, should be able to play rugby.
“Events such as this tournament show how rugby has become more inclusive and it also helps break down barriers and bring more people into the sport.”
The cup will be competed for at Broughton Park RUFC and promises to be three days of high quality sporting contests.
Founded in 1882, Broughton Park RUFC is one of the largest and best-known clubs in the North West of England.
Cohen has devoted much of his time post-retirement to his 'StandUp Foundation', which aims to combat homophobia and bullying.
He added: “I never got bullied and I never saw bullying in rugby but I hear a lot about it and, having a large gay following, the stories that you hear and why they don't play sport are very sad.
“I know it does happen and we hear of horrid stories at a lower level.
“I'm not saying it doesn't happen at the top level, I can imagine there are some isolated incidents, but at grassroots level people need educating about homophobia, which is where racism was 20 years ago so there's a lot of education needed."
Trevor Burchick MBE, founding director or PrideSports is fully behind the tournament and explained where the trophy takes its name from.
“The Bingham Cup is so named as to honour the gay hero that Mark Bingham became when he led the charge to thwart a team of hijackers on Flight 93, during the 2001 attacks on New York's Twin Towers.
“With Mark's family behind the Bingham Cup, the event continues to grow and encourage powerful gay role models that inspire many others.
PrideSports is committed to the growth of LGBT sports participation in the UK and the development of quality sports provision which welcomes LGBT people.
“This is what really adds value to our growing LGBT sporting communities everywhere and attracts non sporting people to get involved in sports in a way that few other sports can,” he said.
“It demonstrates to our young LGBT people that they too can aspire and achieve at events such as Manchester's unique annual LGBT Pride Youth Games.”
Manchester and the North West will be represented in the tournament by the Village Spartans inclusive rugby team.
He added: “I wish the Village Spartan's every success in winning the Bingham Cup for Manchester. Bring it on!”
Group stages will be held on Friday and Saturday morning. The quarter-finals are scheduled for Saturday afternoon with the semi-finals and finals happening on Sunday.
Spectator tickets are still available and cost as little £6.00 per day for adults and are free for under-16s. A three-day supporter pass is available for £15.
All tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day from Broughton Park RUFC.