The rise of the Bucks!

by | Jun 20, 2023 | Blog, Mixed Ability Sports

Mixed Ability rugby includes both disabled and non-disabled participants playing full-contact rugby within a mainstream club environment. Playing to the ‘just another team’ ethos all players are members of the club, train weekly and participate in fixtures.

The ‘Derby Bucks’ were formed in September 2018 as part of the ‘Try for Change’ project. Funded by England Rugby and delivered by IMAS, this project involved the creation of new Mixed Ability teams combined with the education of stakeholders across rugby.

Derby RFC were one of the first clubs to get involved and the Bucks were born. With 3 founding members, the Bucks first season saw promising growth, playing in 3 fixtures and recruiting 10 players. This led to the team competing as the first (and we still believe only!) Mixed Ability team within the RFU’s 24 Sevens Series. Whilst the pandemic had an inevitable impact and curtailed the 2019/20 season, the Bucks were able to stay closely together, meeting weekly online and actually growing numbers throughout the pandemic.

This growth has continued over the following 2 years and the 2022/23 season saw 40+ players take to the pitch for the Bucks. The coaching team has grown from 1 to 5 and several players have progressed within the club’s adult section, with Cameron Finlay even making his 1st XV debut in the previous season after first taking to the pitch for senior rugby with the Bucks. As the team approach their fifth season it is a good time to reflect on some of the group’s achievements and memorable moments, these include:

  • Hosting a Mixed Ability XRugby7’s tournament in 2019 that saw 100+ Mixed Ability players visit Derby RFC.
  • Winners of ‘Team of the Year’ at Derby Sports Awards in 2019.
  • Attendance at the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament (IMART) in 2022, joining 1000+ players from around the world.
  • Team co-founder Tom Wilson designing and fundraising a new set of kit for the Bucks, including the Pride flag as a further indication of the team’s ethos.
  • Team captain Ant Gayton and fellow Buck Matty Bell taking to the pitch as flag bearers for England vs. France in the 2023 Six Nations.
  • Hosting a summer Mixed Ability tournament in 2023 that saw 100+ players from 4 clubs in attendance.

Aside from on the pitch success the Bucks are also proud of the culture they have created, helping Derby RFC in their aspiration to be ‘the most inclusive club in NLD’. The inclusive nature of the Bucks has seen an increase in representation from the LGBTQ+ community and greater diversity across the club. As a result, relationships with local Gurdwaras are being formed, with a view to hopefully deliver in the future.

With these new relationships and a fifth anniversary fast approaching, it is an exciting time to be a Buck! If you’d like to find out more or would be interested in starting a Mixed Ability team at your club, please email




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