Famous Guinness Gates painted in pride colours as LGBT + inclusive rugby tournament launched in Dublin
Dublin is set to host the biggest Union Cup since the tournament's first edition, which was held in Montpellier back in 2005.
The biennial European, non-professional, gay rugby tournament will be held at Dublin City University Campus (DCU) on June 8 and 9 after Ireland saw off competition from England and Wales to win the hosting rights.
The Union Cup will feature 45 teams from 15 countries, including (for the first time) 10 women's teams from Ireland.
In a major boost to the tournament, Guinness have come on board as sponsors, while the IRFU are also heavily involved in the organisational side of things.
In celebration, the Guinness Gates in Dublin have painted the colours of the rainbow, which is the first time the iconic landmark has been any colour other than black or blue.
In the men's tournament, the Emerald Warriors, who compete in the Leinster Metro League, will fly the flag for Ireland and the club's player/president and chair of the Union Cup, Richie Fagan believes that it will be the biggest edition of the tournament yet.
"To think that it started in 2005 with seven teams and just with the progression with the union alone, so it is becoming a very serious piece within the LGBT sporting arena," Fagan said.
"So much so that the next city to win the bid will fall under a more strict template.
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"We have been lucky in that they have allowed us put our stamp as to how we want it ran etc.
"We are the first to do many things. We are the first to add a women's side to it, we are the first to have our federation like the IRFU run it.
"So we are now setting the precedent as to how it will be run going forward."
With regard to the IRFU's involvement, Fagan explained:
"So usually, the tournament would organise refs from a request all over Europe but the IRFU are managing all of that so we are not getting involved in bringing refs in.
"The standard of reffing is now going to be brought up to a whole new level. But also, we are the first to engage with brands like Guinness, who have serious credentials in diversity and inclusion with a passion for rugby.
"Never before had there been a tournament to do that. When we spoke to Guinness very early on, nearly two years ago, we gave them our dream and ambition and they could really see it. They were also pushing for us to bring it to that next level.
"There is going to be a template now set from what we leave behind as part of the legacy, so the next city to win the bid will have to fall in line with what we have done in the last 18 months."
Tickets are available from www.unioncupdublin.ie and are priced art €10 for adults