One of the UK’s leading gay rugby union teams are celebrating after it was announced that they will host next year’s European tournament.

London’s Kings Cross Steelers will be defending their title as 2007 European Champions, which they won in Copenhagen last year.

The 2009 tournament’s host venue will be West Ham FC’s home ground.

Rugby teams from across Europe will compete for the biennial championship title between May 22nd and 23rd next year.

Steelers Events Manager Neil Pyper said:

“We are absolutely delighted that London will be hosting the next Union Cup.

“As the world’s first gay rugby team, now in our 13th year, we are eager to encourage new and experienced teams alike, and look forward to inviting more than seventeen European gay rugby teams to come to our great city next year.”

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone supported the Kings Cross Steelers bid and sent the following statement of support:

“I congratulate the Kings Cross Steelers on bringing the Union Cup 2009 to London.

“The tournament will provide a significant platform to introduce rugby and lesbian and gay sport to new audiences and boost London’s sporting and cultural profile across the UK and Europe.”

The first gay rugby Union Cup took place in 2005 in Montpellier, France.