International Mixed Ability Sports: promoting social inclusion in rugby through European partnership

Unprecedented growth of Mixed Ability in Bradford
9th January 2018
Erasmus+ Sport “MIXAR” kick off meeting
19th February 2018

As the 6 Nations kicked off this weekend, International Mixed Ability Sports (IMAS), a Bradford-based NGO who are challenging the way we think about sports, announced an exciting new partnership with rugby unions across Europe. The announcement was made on Saturday prior to Sundays’ Italy-England Game at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

IMAS are leading the way in promoting the Mixed Ability model, enabling players of all abilities to play together in competitive, full-contact rugby union, abiding by World Rugby Laws. Originating in Wales more than 25 years ago, the model became of International relevance when IMAS saw the opportunity to involve players with disabilities in educating the wider rugby family, leading to the growth of new teams and a national roll-out across England in partnership with England Rugby.

The Mixed Ability – Rugby for All (MIXAR) project is a two-year Erasmus+ Sport partnership funded by the European Commission which sees the Italian, Spanish and Flemish rugby unions trialing the model. The project aims to replicate the English success in creating Mixed Ability teams within established mainstream rugby clubs, opening the game to participants who face a wide range of barriers, reengaging and retaining former and new rugby players and raising awareness around equality and inclusion. Other partners include the University of Salamanca (Spain), Per Formare (Italy) and the Irish Club Sundays Well Rebels.

IMAS Director Martino Corazza stated “Rugby has always been a game for everyone and Mixed Ability gives real meaning to these words. IMAS believe participants should be allowed to be equal members in their community clubs, with the same rights and duties, regardless of their gender, ability, background, culture or sexual orientation. Mixed Ability sees the person first!”.

Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director, added “This project represents a great day for rugby across the world. At England Rugby we’ve worked closely with IMAS for the last 4 years and this incredible partnership has enabled us to bring rugby to many more individuals. We have now 20 Mixed Ability Clubs across England and they are growing almost by the week. One of our main aims is to demonstrate that rugby is really a sport for everyone and challenge the perception that there are some groups who can’t play our great game. IMAS and this project have helped enormously with that.”

IMAS have also successfully organised two International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournaments – the latest of which was held in August 2017 in Vitoria-Gasteiz – attended by hundreds of players from all over the world. To date, Mixed Ability rugby teams are in action in many European countries and as far away as New Zealand and Argentina.

Look out for updates on the MIXAR project on the IMAS and partners social media

If you want to know more, please contact us!