Manchester will play host to the Bingham Cup this weekend, where gay and inclusive rugby teams from around the world will compete for the 2012 title.

The New York Gotham Knights will defend their title as world champions at the three-day tournament beginning tomorrow at the city’s Broughton Park ground.

More than 30 clubs from 15 countries around the world, including Manchester’s Village Spartans RUFC, will arrive in Manchester for the largest event in the biennial Cup’s history.

Former England rugby World Cup champion, Ben Cohen MBE said: “I’m passionate that anyone, regardless of their background, should be able to play rugby. Events such as this tournament show how rugby has become more inclusive and it also helps break down barriers and bring more people into the sport.”

Gareth Thomas, the UK’s first professional rugby player to come out as gay, will host the tournament’s Gala Dinner at The Palace Hotel on Sunday, 3 June.

Andrew Stokes, chief executive of Marketing Manchester said the city’s large gay community and “sporting” identity made it “an ideal host city for the Bingham Cup”.

The event is supported by gating website Gaydar.co.uk, which polled 5,400 users earlier this month, of whom 23 percent said they regularly attended rugby matches.

9 percent of respondents said they would not play the sport outside a gay-friendly club due to concerns about fitting in. While 46 percent thought rugby still had problems with hompohobia,

The Bingham Cup takes places from Friday 1 to Sunday 3 June at Broughton Park RUFC. Ticket are £6 per day for adults and free for under 16s at the ground. A three-day supporter pass is available for £15 at the tournament itself or online.

The Cup is named after Mark Bingham, a gay rugby player who died on United Airlines Flight 93 in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The tournament has been held in San Francisco, London, New York, Dublin and Minneapolis.