Dallas’ Lost Souls rugby team is only four years old, but the Souls have already made a name for themselves as a championship-caliber team with their victory in Division III of the 2016 Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Cup competition, held Memorial Day weekend in Nashville.
The Division III championship earned the Dallas team the Challenger Cup, according to player/coach Todd Maria.
“This is our first time to compete in the Bingham Cup,” Maria said, explaining that the international competition is held every two years. “The first one we could have attended as a team was in Sydney in 2014, but we didn’t have the time or the resources to attend that one.”
The Bingham Cup is an international amateur competition open to any team that is a member of the International Gay Rugby Association. The tournament is named after Mark Bingham, the gay former University of California Berkley rugby star who died on United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001. He was hailed as a hero for being one of the group of passengers who fought with the terrorist hijackers, forcing the plane to crash in a field in Pennsylvania rather than allowing the terrorists to crash it into the U.S. Capitol.
The first Bingham Cup was held in 2002 in San Francisco. It has been held every other year since, in London, then New York, then Dublin, then Minneapolis, then Manchester and then Sydney. This year’s tournament in Nashville was the first in the U.S. since 2010.
Maria said teams in the tournament are placed in divisions based on their experience and level of play. He said that the Lost Souls were undefeated in the first two days of pool play to finish as the No. 1-seeded team. They defeated Chicago B 29-5, St. Louis 41-0, Kings Cross Dealers B 42-0 and the New York Gotham Knights B 33-5.
The Dallas team defeated the Nashville Grizzlies B in a hard-fought semi-final match, 19-17, before advancing to the Division III finals, where they beat the Washington Renegades in another tough match, 12-10, to finish the tournament with a 6-0 record.
“That’s pretty hard to do,” Maria said, “to go to the Bingham Cup for the first time and win your division.” It’s an especially impressive accomplishment when you realize that the Lost Souls only practice once a week, for two hours.
“It’s pretty amazing when you think about the amount of work we get done in those two hours,” Maria continued.
“The players all have lives — families, partners, jobs, some are in school. But they come to practice and for two hours on a Saturday, they maintain that laser focus they need to get it done.”
Maria said he was proud that the Lost Souls were “able to put together a team and in four years compete at such a high level.” But he is also proud of his team’s accomplishments off the field, too.
“We do a lot of community service as a team,” Maria said. “We collect school supplies for kids, we do a canned food drive and a toy drive.”
Lost Souls are on hiatus for the time being, but will resume play in August, continuing through September, October and November. The team takes the month of December off, but then are back at it from January through May.
For more information, visit LostSoulsRFC.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2016.