• Sweden's news in English

Gay rugby in Stockholm 'stirs the imagination'

24 Apr 2012, 16:15

Published: 24 Apr 2012 16:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

”At the first training session when we started out, we only had 13 players,” says organizer Daniel Sköld.

The team started up last year and has proved to be such a hit that it will join an official league this summer.

Not exclusively gay, the organizers are keen to promote the what they call an ”open and inclusive” group of players, all from different backgrounds and most complete novices in the sport.

”Now we have around 60, which is a huge increase and shows just how popular the game is, but also what a good marketing job has been done around the team.”

To promote the side, the rugby club held a series of networking events including one during the Pride Festival last summer, which turned out to be an ideal recruitment platform.

”Pride made a big difference, because after that we got a lot of attention in press which meant more and more people joined up after hearing about us. We also played on the fact that rugby is such an unexpected sport for gays to be playing, which really stirred people’s imagination.”

The off pitch marketing was perhaps easier than the playing side itself, but the huge lack of experience conversely helped the team grow together, according to Sköld.

“Rugby is not common in Sweden anyway. If you want to join a soccer team you have to have played for a long time and are expected to know a lot about the game. None of us had ever played rugby so the fact that everyone learned from scratch brought lots of invention and had a huge social effect as well.”

Sköld says that so far, despite fears in some quarters, the reaction to the team has been universally positive.

“It has been great, and we have had lots of support from the Swedish rugby community. I think we expected a weird reaction but that hasn’t happened at all, maybe because it is not a typically gay activity. Also, for those outside the community it is a way in, perhaps, without them having to hang out in bars, things like that. To us it is just a good social and fun melting pot," says Sköld.

2012 looks like it will be busy for the newly formed Stockholm Berserkers, who play their first official league game against Hammarby on May 13th.

They are planning a mini tournament during Stockholm Pride, with teams from Brussels and Copenhagen as well as representing Sweden in the Bingham Cup, the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby teams, which is held every year and is one of the largest men’s rugby union tournament in the sporting calendar.

In a short time The Stockholm Berserkers have already come a long way, both on the pitch and off it.

Story continues below…

“I think we are helping people on a lot of different levels. Perhaps the attention our team has had will encourage other sports to be more open, while in our own way we are helping to support the fight against homophobia in sport. It is really important that we have a positive effect on the gay community at the same time,” says Sköld.

It's not too late to get involved, so if you are keen on joining in or trying out a new sport contact the club via the website www.berserkers.se.

The team trains at Årstafältet every Sunday at 16.00-18.00 and Wednesdays at 18.00-20.00.

Geoff Mortimore

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:42 April 25, 2012 by gabeltoon
Great news and congratulations to the team.
17:04 April 26, 2012 by bow290
yeah i wanna play on the gay team lol! and i bet they still can't play the game! at least they're not playing rugby league.
05:26 April 27, 2012 by philster61
Only Swedes could take the worlds most manliest game and turn it into a gay issue....
08:38 April 27, 2012 by rise
This is gross!
09:18 April 29, 2012 by zooeden
Hhahahahaha, this is what I needed on a sunday morning!!!
12:03 May 1, 2012 by John.Smith
They look very happy in that picture.
20:28 May 1, 2012 by tobyflood
Sexuality shoudn't be an issue here. It's just a bunch of guy that enjoy rucking together.
07:39 May 2, 2012 by Khaliil
Was there ever a heterosexual team? Do homosexuals have to make everything about their sexual preference?

Seems that they are always "in-your-face" about their sexuality & then when those who don't approve say so, we are called homophobic. I am not homophobic, I do not have an unnatural or irrational fear of homosexuals, I just don't like it & would prefer that such a lifestyle is not displayed around me.

I don't put my heterosexuality in your face, don't put your homosexuality in mine.
Today's headlines
Fake police car driver seized after confronting real police
File photo of a police car. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Three men in a fake police car were left red-faced after they tried to stop a man in southern Sweden who turned out to be an off-duty officer.

This tiny bird can fly for ten months straight: scientists
The common swift while not in flight. Photo: Madis Veskimeister/Wikimedia

Swedish scientists have found that this bird stays in the air for almost a year without landing.

Why the Pope is visiting Sweden next week
Pope Francis in the Vatican. Photo: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Pope to nail reconciliation agenda to Lutherans' door in southern Sweden.

The Local Recipes
How to make no-knead sourdough bread like a Swede
No-knead sourdough bread. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Swedes love their sourdough bread. Food writer John Duxbury shares his favourite Swedish recipe for a no-knead loaf.

Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP

The Local talks to an American Donald Trump supporter on what it is like living in progressive stronghold Sweden.

Forgotten Ingmar Bergman script to be made into a film
It's thought the script was part of an ill-fated collaboration between Bergman (left) and Federico Fellini (right). Photo: AP

Written in 1969, the script is 'up to the standard of his best', according to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.

Sweden's consumption footprint 'among the worst'
Trucks transporting goods on a Swedish highway. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden has been criticized for its unsustainable consumption of the planet's resources in the latest edition of a major WWF study.

Video: How to be Joel Kinnaman for a day
Kinnaman with one of the camera rigs that will allow people inside his head. Photo: Tele2

The Swedish Hollywood actor will strap a camera to his head, stream it live and allow viewers to interact with him this weekend.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
How Stockholm's cold climate boosts creativity
Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Do long, dark winters actually make Swedes more creative and more productive? We spoke to Stockholm startups to find out.

Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available