From Front Row Seat to Front Row Forward

by | Jan 4, 2019 | Blog

As a profoundly deaf player with cerebral palsy Tom may have felt that contact rugby wasn’t going to be a possibility. However, it is just 3 months since his first training session and he has already represented Derby RFC in a full contact match and visited Sixways Stadium with the rest of the Derby Bucks MA team. Try for Change Project Manager, Mike Hawkes, sat down with Tom to find out more about how Mixed Ability has given him the opportunity to participate in the sport he loves.

So, Tom, how and why did you start playing MA Rugby?

I’m very passionate about rugby and have been attending Derby RFC to support the 1st XV for a number of years. Because of this I wanted the club to start a Mixed Ability team, so I could actually participate. Following a presentation from IMAS (International Mixed Ability Sports) the sessions started in October, I’ve already played in a community fixture in Worcester and had my first full contact fixture on the 8th December in Northampton.

What is it that you most enjoy about the team?

I like being healthy and enjoy running. I’m excited about the prospect of the new Derby Mixed Ability team as I enjoy throwing the ball and getting involved in the contact elements like scrummaging and tackling. I enjoy the higher level of MA Rugby as it pushes me to be better.

How does being a member of Derby Bucks MA team help in your everyday life?

Being involved in sport helps me by increasing my general happiness whilst also giving me the opportunity to make new friends. I’m happy whilst I’m playing and find it has built up my confidence. Afterwards I feel tired!

How important is it that your friends and family get involved?

It’s great to have the support of my family, my brother Adam attends a lot of the sessions and helps the coach out. I also remember that dad used to enjoy rugby before he passed away so it’s nice to have that connection. My staff help a lot by providing travel to the sessions, support during the session and interpreting some of the coaches’ instructions.

What would you say to other people who might be thinking about joining an MA team?

They should get involved, it’s a great way to make friends, have a laugh and is generally a happy place!

Tom with teammates from the Derby Bucks & Northampton Hellhounds combined XV.

Thanks to Adam, Tom’s brother, who signed the questions and answers during this interview!

To find out more about the Try for Change Project, or to start a team in your club please contact Mike Hawkes on

Mike Hawkes

Mike Hawkes


  1. Adam, Fantastic for Tom getting involved and brilliant the way you look after him and getting him involved in these sorts of activities.
    We will have to go and support him when we are up in the future.
    Well done to both of you!

  2. Great to see that you are still involved in sport Tom, and I am
    Not surprised that you Like to challenge yourself, I know that from your days in athletics! Great to see that Adam is still supporting you in sporting activities – you are a great team. Well done both of you

  3. That looks great fun Tom. Glad you’re enjoying it. I’ll have to come an watch you playing sometime.


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