A gay rugby tournament to be held in Ireland next year has received €100,000 (£72,000) in sponsorship from the betting group, Paddy Power.

The deal, the biggest ever secured for a gay event in Ireland, will be used to host the 2008 Bingham Cup, an international rugby tournament that has already sold more than 600 tickets to those living abroad.

The sponsorship was proposed by Paddy Power who view the event as highly appropriate for their brand.

Paddy Power’s marketing director Ken Robertson said: “We wouldn’t be the sort of company that does what you might expect a bookmaker to do.

“This might raise a few eyebrows when it comes to town, but we’re not scared of that.”

The Bigham Cup’s director Richie Whyte was overjoyed with the support, although he is still looking for sponsorship from a drinks company.

“I think it’s hard for some sponsors to imagine what an event like this will be like,” he said.

Mr Robertson added that it was no longer just men betting on sports events, with the gay and lesbian market representing an important sector of consumer society.

The Bingham Cup will take place at Dublin University next June. 32 amateur rugby teams will compete.

The event has been held three times since its launch in San Francisco in 2002, once in London in 2004 and then in New York in 2006.

Richie Whyte, Tournament Director said: “Paddy Power have an innovative and risk taking approach to the market. We are delighted that they see the Bingham Cup as a good fit for them both in terms of its sporting potential and public profile.

“The Bingham Cup Dublin will be both the largest amateur XVs rugby tournament held in the country in 15 years and the biggest international gay-oriented event ever held in Ireland.

“Having an international brand such as such as Paddy Power throwing their weight behind it represents a huge development for the tournament particularly in terms of developing mainstream interest. We expect our partnership to enhance an already great tournament and help to make it the biggest and best tournament yet.”