Y T I L I B A D MIX E RUGBY
What is Mixed Ability Rugby? Mixed Ability Rugby is the concept of playing rugby whilst ensuring that individuals with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and those recovering from mental health problems are included. It is quite simply ‘Rugby For All’. It works by having experienced players on the team that act as ‘facilitators’ for disabled players and those that are new to the game. They assist, help and guide the individual players on the team to fulﬁl their role within the game. The rules don’t have to be adapted; this is actually one of the key aspects. Mixed Ability Rugby is focused on inclusion of all players, regardless of disability or skill levels. In the interests of safety the only major adaptation is to make scrums uncontested. It is not just the disabled players who beneﬁt from being included in a mainstream sport. There is a genuine spirit and camaraderie both before and after the game between all of the players. It’s a great way for us all to experience real inclusion ﬁrst hand.
Benefits to Providing Mixed Ability Rugby Mel Liley- Rugby Development Officer Mixed Ability Rugby can sound like a daunting idea in a sport known for its physicality, however within the wider rugby offer; Mixed Ability is proving a key element for players keen to engage but previously unable to do so. By having a MA team within Hertfordshire, we have an appropriate playing offer to signpost disabled players to. Key to its success is an understanding of how the game can be provided so everyone can play, and the training sessions are delivered in a way that demonstrates teamwork and enjoyment that many of the players have never experienced before. Within the club itself, Letchworth Garden City RUFC have fully integrated the ‘Braveherts’ into their culture – the players pay a membership and attend social events just like anyone else. As the team participate in more events, including local touch and tag competitions, we anticipate coverage to increase and the opportunity for ﬁxtures to rise across the area, leading to increased club competition going forward. As Mixed Ability grows as a new format of the game, it provides an opportunity to engage people who may have previously viewed rugby union as off-limits to them, which is a really exciting prospect.
Facilitator What is your role in the game? ‘I aim to facilitate the game for the disabled players; for example, creating a pod to help take them into a contact situation’.
Why did you start playing MA Rugby? ‘I came into the Bumbles to start playing rugby with a group of lads. I made a concerted effort not to think of them as disabled or ﬁnd out their disability because it was a case of focusing on their strengths’.
How has MA rugby helped you? ‘It’s helped me get back into the game and brought a whole new group of friends. Working with a charity (International Mixed Ability Sports) has also opened up other doors for me personally, such as getting involved in the national rollout of Mixed Ability rugby!’
Why do you like to play rugby? "I was there at the start of the ﬁrst Mixed Ability Team in England right back in 2009. It keeps me ﬁt; I meet new friends and have fun"
Why do you like to play rugby? "It's given me more conﬁdence and I've helped to start new Mixed Ability Teams, I also toured in France, Scotland and Wales. I can't imagine going back to being stuck at home bored with nothing to do"
What is your best moment in MA Rugby? "My best moment was being the Bumble Bees team captain in the ﬁnals of the ﬁrst Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament 2015".
Coach How did you get involved in MA Rugby? ‘I started coaching after watching the Bradford Bumbles founder (Anthony Brooke) in an end of season ﬁxture. I’ve been involved ever since having a laugh and helping to expand the format’.
How do you alter your coaching style? ‘It’s much the same as any coaching however I make sure to have a bit more patience and go through the basic skillsets with each of the players’.
What advice would you give to a coach new to MA rugby? ‘Be brave with the players, everyone will be different so you will have to adapt but I’m sure you’ll ﬁnd a way to get them involved. It also means that it’s much more rewarding in the end!’
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