IMAS is delighted to announce our support for the Ability Rugby International (ARI) championship. This is a cross-border competition built on the Mixed Ability principles of inclusion and diversity, and open to any Mixed Ability rugby side, male or female, from anywhere in the world.
Following the momentous growth and expansion of Mixed Ability rugby – and thanks to events like IMART and the MARIs games – we want to encourage all the existing Mixed Ability teams to promote the Mixed Ability ethos and the rugby values of solidarity, integrity, passion, respect, and teamwork, across their local communities!
Mixed Ability breaks down barriers and stereotypes, encouraging inclusion, membership and belonging for everyone, regardless of the level of ability or experience. It does this by empowering players with and without disabilities to put aside such labels and compete together – and against each other! Since its inception in Wales over 30 years ago, Mixed Ability rugby teams have been facing mainstream opponents on a regular basis, playing as an integral part of their local community. IMAS believes that this is a crucial aspect of the whole Mixed Ability model.
This competition is therefore designed to encourage Mixed Ability teams to be part of the mainstream rugby family and rewards participation as well as winning.
The championship is run over 12 months and all participants compete on a single-table basis, with most points awarded for playing a match, and additional points awarded for winning. Teams gather points by playing full-contact rugby union under World Rugby rules, and do not have to play only other Mixed Ability sides. This reflects that participation is the most important element, but recognises also that being competitive and winning are also an integral part of rugby. It further acknowledges that inclusion happens at its best when diverse groups share the same pitch, allowing many ‘mainstream’ opponents to have their first interaction with ‘disabled ‘ rugby players, shifting their perceptions and challenging prejudice around disability and diversity.
Segregated sports can in fact spotlight disabilities, and inadvertently re-enforce the ‘us and them’ divide, seeing disabled people as radically different. Mixed Ability sport focuses on what players can do and can achieve, without grading, classifying, or adopting ‘special’ rules, allowing people to be judged on their abilities, alongside and against non-disabled peers. This is a powerful message that comes across best in this physically challenging sport, and can provide a successful example for other sports to follow!
Gwilym Lewis, driving force of the Llanelli Warriors and President of the MARIs said “We believe this Championship is a great idea! What we as a club like about the concept is that it rewards the club across the whole season, and for the long term. This competition will acknowledge the most active clubs, and to win, the club will have to look for more rugby, and keep playing. Of course, in Wales rugby is a fundamental part of life. It is a common benchmark that individuals, teams, towns, and villages use to measure themselves. The Warriors are an active part of that community and through playing regularly, our players are blended and woven into that fabric. But this championship has the power to inspire other clubs, in other places where rugby is perhaps not as popular, to challenge themselves, grow their reach and social network, and create more opportunities for disabled people to be part of this community, not on the side-lines but rather at its heart”.
Martino Corazza, from IMAS added: “We appreciate every Mixed Ability club is on a journey, and each journey is different. Some clubs have plenty of opportunities and are an integral part of their community, some others must create their own fortune in contexts where rugby is not as popular. Truth is that many established Mixed Ability teams have now built up great local links with nearby clubs and play regular, sometimes annual fixtures against local social sides where the emphasis is as much about having fun as winning. Hopefully, this competition will provide yet another asset to promote the game, strengthen the movement, and help the teams compare their developments whilst achieving ambitious goals”
To know more about the scoring system and submit your results, please visit the link below. At the end of each season, we will reveal the overall winners as well as acknowledge many categories such as national champions, best newcomers, etc.