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Ben_CohenManchester Canalsiders have received support from some of the most high-profile sports stars in the UK, including Ben Cohen and Gareth Thomas, as they prepare for the club’s official launch on Sunday February 24.

To coincide with the end of International LGBT awareness month, the Canalsiders, the first ever lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Rugby League club in the World, will host an official launch during the half-time interval in Sunday’s Super League game between Salford City Reds and Hull KR.

The club will play an exhibition-game of touch rugby during in what is the first of a series of planned events over the forthcoming year.

Former Welsh dual-code international Gareth Thomas, who became the first openly-gay rugby player in 2009, was quick to offer his support for the club.

“I’d like to wish Manchester Canalsiders all the best for their launch on Sunday,” said Thomas.

“It’s great to see the world’s first LGBT Rugby League club starting up and providing new opportunities for people to take part in sport.”

2003 rugby union world cup winner Ben Cohen has also offered his support to the club;

“I want to wish Manchester Canalsiders the best of luck for their first exhibition game on Sunday at Salford City Reds Stadium,” said Cohen.

“It will be exciting to see their talent on display and the Canalsiders’ acceptance into Rugby League can only benefit the world of sport as a whole.”

The Canalsiders have a full calendar of plans in place for the 2013 season dedicated to developing skills and training programmes and building up a team of supporters through try-it sessions, training, fundraising and social outings to Rugby League matches such as Magic Weekend and the Rugby League World Cup in October and November.

The club have also received strong support from Salford City Reds and members of the local community in the Manchester-region.

Salford City Reds captain Steven Wilde said: “The Reds are always looking for innovative new ways of spreading the word of Rugby League and Salford City Reds, so the opportunity to help the Canalsiders develop in this world first couldn’t be missed out on”

Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Elaine Boyes said: “I’m proud that Manchester will be home to the world’s very first LGBT Rugby League Club and would like to wish the Canalsiders every success for the future.

“The organisers of the club have worked incredibly hard to create a packed programme for 2013 that I’m sure will encourage people to get involved and become more active for years to come.”

Exclusive Tickets are still available for the club’s Launch & Exhibition Match on Sunday 24 February at Salford City Reds v Hull KR. For more details and to learn more about the club, visit

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