ROMEO Sport – Rugby
ROMEO Sport is our space to feature and highlight some of the amazing athletes in our rainbow community. The Lowlanders gay rugby team are Holland’s only inclusive LGBTQIA+ rugby team and will be the first team sport featured here. We speak to Lowlander forward Lerone Tilborg, about his passion for ‘The Beautiful Game’ and his hopes for the upcoming Bingham Cup. All professional photography by Kevin Scott.
Do you enjoy skiing in France?
Lerone is a forward, so his job is to try and push forward with the ball, and gain valuable meters in an eternal effort to reach the ‘try line’ and score points against the opposition. He is helped in this job by his other forwards and, of course, the rest of the team.
|Position||Forward 4 or 5 (Lock)|
What sports do you enjoy playing?
“Fitness, swimming, and for a second season, rugby. ;-)”
Can you tell me a little bit about rugby?
“Rugby is a game played with two teams of 15 players each. Each team carries, passes or kicks the ball to the try-zone to score as many points as possible.”
Why did you choose gay rugby?
“Well, I didn’t choose gay rugby. I chose rugby. I saw The Lowlanders presenting a rugby clinic in Amsterdam. It’s like an open day, where you can come and try out, and see if the sport is for you. The clinic really triggered me. I love to challenge my body and was in search of something different, something on a next sport-level besides swimming and fitness. I was impressed by rugby and decided to give it a go.”
What is it like to be on a team?
“Being part of a team is like being part of a family network. Corny right? Yeah, it sounds like that, but the feeling is genuine! It was a significant step for me, practicing a team sport, cause I always practiced individual sports. My major experience is that there’s really no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM.’ It just doesn’t come down to the best player. I experience it as a challenge; with all the different kind of personalities in a team, the main focus lies in working together.”
Is rugby dangerous?
“Haha. That’s the question everyone always asks when I mention I play rugby. I can remember my first training practice where I thought, ‘Jeez, what was I thinking?’ But, it comes down to rules, using the right techniques, and having respect for the each other.”
Are you/the team trying to tackle homophobia in sport?
“Yes! Look at us! Just look, we come in different shapes, sizes, and sexual orientations. We play rugby regardless of whatever ‘the norm’ is, and we’re inclusive of all sexualities and genders.”
Have you ever experienced homophobia in sport?
“No I haven’t.”
Have you ever been attracted to a teammate and what do you do about it?
“Hahahaha….No, I’ve never been attracted to a teammate. They are alllllll in the team/friendzone! You don’t do your family, right? LOL”
The Bingham Cup
Can you tell me about the Bingham Cup?
“The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament started in 2002. On the tragic date, 9/11, Mark, a gay man, and rugby player, fought back against hijackers on board of United Airlines flight 93. Mark and everyone on the flight tragically lost their lives when the plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The global gay rugby community is privileged to honour the memory of a dear friend by competing in this tournament.”
“The Bingham Cup is THE tournament where rugby players, supporters, and staff from around the world come together every two years in a celebration of equality, inclusivity, and sportsmanship. This year Amsterdam will host the event, and over 1500 rugby players plus friends and supporters are expected to attend.”
For anyone thinking about trying rugby, what advice do you have?
“I think the best advice for anyone thinking about trying rugby is …just start! Start now!”
I want to see more sport on ROMEO.
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