Category: 2021

Spartans 2XV-Bs v York RI Templars

Manchester Village Spartans 2B’s welcomed a York Templars to Sale for their latest IGR adventure.

From the kick off the Templars experience was telling as they searched for a breakthrough, and had the Spartans defending early on with great bravery.

The breakthrough came from a set piece that was quickly released to the Templars left winger who broke two tackles and touched down infield, although the conversion was missed.

The Spartans had more defending to do as Templars pressed for a second, and did so admirably with big hits being laid out on the Templars forwards. Multiple phases of play brought Templars to the 5 metre line. From the resulting phase the scrum half broke through to the try line, only for winger Ian Stodart to hold it up superbly, and the Spartans were able to clear.

The Templars movement from the set piece was impressive and from a line out inside the Spartans half, they spread the play quickly and the number 8 broke through the line and touched down under the posts with the conversion successful.

The Templars continued to press but the Spartans – though inexperienced – were not without enthusiasm, and it showed by a wonderful tackle by Rob Barlett on the Scholars 8 that brought an attack to a halt. Minutes later the pressure told though as the Templars scored again to bring the score to 24-0.

The Spartans confidence in their attacks was beginning to grow, with the forwards causing problems for the Templars defensive line. Although they were able to clear with a big kick into space, the Spartans back 3 recovered the ball well, and won a penalty to clear their lines.

After another Templars unconverted try, the Spartans attacking pressure began to grow as breaks from scrum half James Anderson and fly half Chris Goodman took them to the Templars 5 metre line. From the breakdown, Anderson whipped down the blindside and scrambled over to get the Spartans off the mark at 5-29.

The Templars pressed back however, and their wide gameplay brought another try from the left winger.

Back came the Spartans, attacking not only with bravery, but with confidence that forced the Templars into being offside. From the scrum inside the 22, Anderson again peeled away and his momentum carried him over the line to bring the score to 36-10.

However the Templars then took control of the game, their experience and fitness beginning to tell as a flurry of tries in the third quarter took them further ahead.

The Spartans never wavered, even after the tries being scored. Some terrific carries from Chris Hobert and Nathan Colom caused the Templars headaches as they struggled to contain them. Debutant Gus Ihm’s outstanding carry from his own half brought huge cheers from the sidelines – and from himself!

Although the Templars scored another try to take them to 78-10 the Spartans fed off the positive energy and some beautiful teamwork between forwards and backs, as well as some ambitious kicking, saw a scrum at the Templars 5 metre line. Anderson again sped down the blindside and scored for his hat trick.

The Templars pressed back, but the Spartans continued to grow into this game, and huge hits aplenty from forwards and backs limited their experienced opponents to just two further tries. The referee blew the whistle with the final score 15-88 to the Templars.

The scoreline reflected little of the Spartans gameplay, bravery and clear improvement since being formed in the summer. The Spartans man of the match award went to Nathan Gostick with special mention to Gus Ihm for an outstanding first game for the Spartans!

#gayrugby #inclusiverugby #igrukleagues

For the latest results and tables click here.


It is with profound sadness that the Spartans share with our family of supporters and our rugby community, the news of the tragic loss of one of our youngest Spartans, Robert James-Gonzales.

Having only joined us six months ago, Robert made a huge impact on the club and immediately gained many friends, thanks to his brilliantly warm nature.  This amazing young man was gently spoken, had a great laugh and a beaming, kind smile.

Joining our 1XV, our 23yr old newbie actually brought many years of rugby experience and his great talent to the squad. ‘Roberto’ was a player, school coach and referee. Before joining the Spartans family, he played from 2011 to 2019 with XV Hortaleza in his native Spain.  We know they’re also deeply saddened by this loss and we send our condolences to all his Spanish team mates, in addition to his family and friends, here and in Spain.

Whilst receiving the news last week was very hard for the Spartans, especially, the many players who’d become solid friends with him over the summer, the time between has also been incredibly uplifting….to hear how the club had brought Robert so much joy and happiness, and to read how warmly he was thought of at the club by his new friends in rugby.

Whilst this loss has floored us like a heavy hit during a game, not only are we all reminded just how precious life is and how unexpectedly it can be taken away, Robert’s attitude, skill, kindness and consideration for others makes us more determined than ever to get up and ‘play on’. 

It strengthens our resolve to keep working hard to bring inclusive rugby to more people and continue to be the kind of club that makes a positive difference to people’s lives.

We are so fortunate to have had you amongst our ranks, Robert.

Rest in peace.

David Smyth – A Pioneer of Gay & Inclusive Rugby

Manchester | Monday 13th September 2021.

Today, the Spartans say goodbye to David Smyth, our club’s first coach and an instrumental character in the development of what has become IGR International Gay Rugby.

It’s with bittersweet timing that the World Rugby Museum exhibition “Proud to be Steelers” (celebrating the contribution to inclusive rugby that our brothers-in-rugby, the Kings Cross Steelers RFC, have made) opened this weekend.     

David loaned the exhibition some memorabilia which will sit alongside other Spartans’ materials that we’re proud are being included as part of the story about the Steelers’ and the growth of Inclusive Rugby. 

He’s pictured handing out medals at the historic first match between the Spartans and Steelers, held in Manchester in August ’99.

Viewed as pioneers today, David and these Spartans and Steelers seemed to know things were worth holding on to…. probably because everything they did was a first. 

It was David who gave Spartans the credibility and belief to play proudly as a ‘Gay’ team in the ‘Straight’ local RFU leagues. An important step for the club in its quest to challenge LGBT+ stereotypes through sport.

It was David who invited the Steelers, Washington Renegades Rugby and the freshly formed San Francisco Fog RFC over to Manchester in January 2001 for a rugby clinic (that he led) and small competition, at what could be argued became the world’s first international rugby union tournament for gay rugby clubs organised by a gay rugby club.

As a straight, married man, David (along with his son, Chris, who still plays with the Spartans) was there at the reciprocal Washington Invitational in May of 2001.  This is the tournament that would later become the IGR Bingham Cup

Today, thanks to people such as David, we have a vibrant, friendly and hard-working club of over 170 members today and a growing IGR community to play against. 

Like the original line-up, today’s Spartans know how to have a good time, balance competitiveness with enjoyment and are helping to grow the world of Inclusive Rugby.  We hope we’ve learnt from our pioneers. Their example encouraged us to help establish the Tritons, Vulcans and Centurions and help England Rugby spread the word about Touch.  

And, just as this weekend, when we wanted to remember the inspirational, Mark Bingham, we want to make sure we continue to applaud, elevate and remember our local, homegrown heroes too, like David.

Therefore, on this incredibly sad day, we want to say it loud and proud: “Thank you, David and family.” 

Yours in rugby,


Chair, Manchester Village Spartans RUFC

Encouraging Transgender & LGBT inclusion in grassroots rugby




Manchester Village Spartans RUFC are producing materials for distribution by their friends in Inclusive Rugby across the UK, that seek to help all grassroots rugby clubs better understand some of the issues surrounding gender identity and a player’s sexuality.

Originally due to be issued at the start of the 2020/21 playing season and now set to go live for the 21/22 rugby season, the campaign (which was held back due to the national lockdowns) will provide quick hints and tips for players and clubs in a simple, folding leaflet and poster in the hope that they can quickly become more knowledgeable and feel more confident when supporting their players and members. Ultimately becoming more inclusive and welcoming.

Gareth Longley, Chair of Manchester Village Spartans said,

“Rugby, as a game, already thrives on the differences between us and the huge growth in inclusive rugby across the UK demonstrates there is an opportunity for growth when clubs build more inclusive teams and embrace diversity.”

 “We believe that when a club is better informed and confident about how to deal with a player’s or new recruit’s sexuality or, gender identity, they’ll be better equipped to more actively recruit people who, may well be itching to pick up the sport but, currently don’t feel welcome.”

Dean Bee, former Spartans Chair and International Gay Rugby (IGR) advisor commented,

“We have listened to and worked with players in our own club and from several inclusive rugby clubs across the UK – and especially importantly, our Transgender and non-binary colleagues – who have massively informed what should go in the leaflet.” 

 “Because of this collaboration, we’ve been able to simplify lots of rules and regs into down-to-earth, practical rugby advice and, by tackling misconceptions and breaking down stereotypes, are able to show how some tiny changes in behaviour can make a world of difference to players who may feel excluded by a club.”

Verity Smith, from the International Gay Rugby (IGR) Social Inclusion team, and a well-known transgender rugby player and influencer added,

“Rugby is an amazing sport that people of all genders and sexualities often love just as much as the next person.  But too little time, fear, conflicting messages and rulings such as the leaked proposal from World Rugby can and does unfortunately often create more hostile and closed club environments even at grassroots.”

 “I can’t say loudly enough just how important it can be and how much of a positive impact a club can have on someone’s life, that ALL players – regardless of their gender or sexuality – should be allowed to play the sport they love and for responsible clubs to top up their knowledge – these hints and tips will take 5 minutes to read – so that they know how to support a more diverse squad of players and contribute to a better society by making people who feel outcast, feel welcome and part of a team.” 

In addition to an A5 booklet that opens up into an A3 Poster for display on a Club’s notice board, the campaign will issue Vox Pop Video messages and provide a hub online so that clubs can quickly and easily access all the latest info and links to welfare advice and relevant governing body articles.

Manchester Village Spartans are proud to have worked closely with England Rugby to promote Inclusive Rugby across England through campaigns such as Try For Change and Spirit Of Rugby 2012 and are pleased that England Rugby have stated that Transgender Women will still be allowed to play women’s rugby at all non-international levels of the game in England for the foreseeable future.

The Spartan’s idea to produce materials that encourage greater inclusion within grassroots rugby has been made possible with the support of the LGBT Consortium.

If you’d more information or want to request some booklets to hand out to your local clubs (or leave with your opponents after a fixture) please contact

Download Press Release

#ilbas #rugbyforall #morethanrugby #igr

Spartans getting ready for a return to rugby

As the Spartans get ready to train all together again from March 29th following the national lockdowns, we thought we’d catch up with some of the team to find out what they’ve been up to during lockdown and what they’ve been doing to help the rest of the squads get ready for their return.

Our first video focuses on Neil Gallagher from the 1XV, who, as a professional personal trainer, was asked to keep our players fit whilst we’ve been away through his series of Zoom PT sessions designed for rugby players of all shapes and sizes and all disciplines.  You may have caught some of them when they were livestreamed on Facebook and saved on YouTube.

Neil tells us what it was like to lead the sessions and how he’s looking forward to getting back to face-to-face rugby practice after all this time.

The sessions will continue at 7:30pm on Tuesdays until April 6th for anyone to join in – as the return to training looms.

You can find out more about Pyramid Performance and Neil’s personal training services at or by messaging Neil on Facebook or Instagram @neilgallaghertraining