Sport and Tourism Minister Helen Grant gave enthusiastic support this week for the first ever Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament.
The tournament will see players with Learning or Physical Disabilities playing alongside non-disabled players in the same full contact game and was pioneered in England by Bradford’s Bumble Bees RFU Team.
The competition will be held at the Bradford and Bingley Rugby Club from the 17th to 21st August prior to the official Rugby World Cup Games in September. Over 400 players and delegates from 10 nations have already confirmed their attendance at the disability friendly event.
Yorkshire MP’s were united in their support for the games following in the success of last year’s Grand Depart. Bradford MP and former Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said “Raising awareness of disabilities and promoting well being through sport is something that I have always believed in and I hope will attract support from all sections of society.”
West Yorkshire has become the English hub of Mixed Ability Sport thanks to a partnership of education and rugby, with WEA and IMAS Tutors alongside the RFU involving disabled players in recruiting new clubs to Mixed Ability Rugby. England Rugby Growth Development Manager Alex Teasdale said “The Mixed Ability Rugby Model illustrates how working with partners like IMAS and the WEA, we as a collective, can change preconceptions about disabilities offering truly inclusive provision and rugby for all.”
IMAS, in partnership with England Rugby and the WEA, put in place a 3 years project to roll-out nationally the Mixed Ability concept, with the aim of creating more integrated rugby team and involve people with Disability in adult education through sport.
In conjunction with the Mixed Ability Tournament there will be a conference and education day where players, coaches and managers will share experiences of involving disabled players in all aspects of the game. Interest in attendance has been expressed from as far afield as Argentina.
Mark Goodwin and Martino Corazza met with the Sport and Tourism Minister who was impressed with concept and promised her support in promoting the tournament and assisting the two adult education tutors with raising the estimated £300,000 cost of hosting the games.