Mixed ability teams from Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors wowed the crowd at half time during Friday’s Premiership clash as the clubs joined forces to promote inclusive rugby
The two sides, made up of both non-disabled players and disabled players with physical and learning needs, competed at tag rugby on the AJ Bell Stadium pitch after warming up in a special joint training session.
After their game the sides posed for pictures on the pitch before returning to their seats for the second half of the Aviva Premiership clash, which Sharks won 36-26.
The seven-a-side match was arranged by community coaches from the award-winning Sale Sharks Community Trust and the Worcester Warriors Community Foundation to coincide with Friday’s match.
The Sharks team was made up of players from local mixed ability side Winnie’s Warriors, which is supported by the Trust, and new recruits to the Trust’s inclusive rugby programme, In the Pack.
“It was a fantastic chance for our mixed ability players to show off their skills on the pitch in front of so many people,” said the Trust’s Inclusion Officer Vicky Irwin.
“It was also a great opportunity to show our home crowd the work that the Community Trust is doing to promote rugby as an inclusive sport that anyone can play and enjoy.
“We were very honoured to welcome the Worcester team to the AJ Bell Stadium. It shows how committed the sport of rugby is to inclusion.”
The Worcester Warriors team was put together by the club’s disability coach Simon Northcott. “All of our players really enjoyed the chance to get out on to a pitch like that and have a go,” said Simon.
“For some of our team, it was a huge achievement to walk out and play in front of so many people and it’s something they should be incredibly proud of.
“Inclusive, mixed ability rugby helps to remove barriers that prevent people from playing the game that they love. At Worcester Warriors we’re committed to doing everything we can to make rugby a sport for anyone.”
In February, Sharks joined forces with Premiership Rugby and England Rugby to support the Winnie’s Warriors team, which plays at Aldwinians RUFC, in Audenshaw, Manchester.
Sale’s mixed ability rugby programme is being delivered by the Trust in four venues; a disabled adult group at Medlock Leisure Centre, Bridge College, Titan Clubs that runs out of Thomas Ashton School and Champions Sports Club at Belle Vue Leisure Centre.
The Trust’s inclusive rugby coaches are currently also on the lookout for new players – both disabled and non-disabled and over 16 years of age – to join the team.
“We’re working with people with a wide range of needs and abilities and it’s a great opportunity for disabled individuals to play contact rugby in a safe way,” added Vicky.
“We do still need more players. We’re looking for non-disabled individuals to play because that helps to promote the inclusive nature of the team and facilitate the play and ensure the games are enjoyable for everyone.”
If you are interested in getting involved with mixed ability rugby at Aldwinians RUFC, please contact Vicky.email@example.com or Paul Lyons at Winnies Warriors on firstname.lastname@example.org.