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Saints Community support Northampton Outlaws with inclusive rugby

As part of the Club’s Project Rugby delivery, Saints’ community coaches are supporting Northampton Outlaws RFC to increase inclusive rugby participation for players aged 16+ at grassroots level.

A Mixed Ability team has been set up and the first coaching session is taking place on Sunday 12 March at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens from 1pm.

With a focus to engage players at all levels of ability in rugby, Mixed Ability focusses on offering a game that can be played by all. It encourages players with Learning and Physical disabilities alike to play alongside able-bodied players and participate in the game without segregation to offer inclusive rugby for all.

Northampton Saints have been engaging numerous local community groups and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) schools across the region in Mixed Ability training sessions, as part of the Project Rugby. Sponsored by Gallagher, Project Rugby is run by Premiership Rugby in collaboration with England Rugby, and is designed to increase participation in the game by people from traditionally underrepresented groups – such as ethnically diverse communities, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and disabled people.

The programme engages thousands of participants per year aged 14+ (16+ for disabled people) across all the Premiership Rugby partner clubs, providing accessible opportunities for people to participate in the game at a time and place that can be easily accessed.

And now Northampton Outlaws RFC are supporting Project Rugby through a Mixed Ability option, to offer a transition club for young disabled players currently involved through the programme to play at.

“We were honoured to be approached by Saints to help lead the Mixed Ability rugby initiative,” said Outlaws’ Club Chair, Simon Chapman.

“We’re passionate about inclusion and rugby being a game for everyone. Rather than just saying we’re inclusive, we live and breathe that ethos in all decisions we make, and in offerings to our club members.”

Simon Chapman, Outlaws’ Club Chair

“The game of rugby can offer so much to every single person, on and off the field, and we work tirelessly to ensure everyone gets the same opportunity to benefit from that camaraderie.

“We pride ourselves on being able to offer rugby to people of all ages, abilities, sexualities and genders without exception. At the Club, you are accepted and welcomed as part of the Outlaws family from the first moment you arrive, then we teach you how to play rugby.

“We are really looking forward to extending our unique form of inclusion to a brand-new group of players.”

Northampton Outlaws were founded in 2012, as the first ‘inclusive rugby club’ in the East Midlands. They play locally in the RFU East Midlands Merit Leagues, nationally in the International Gay Rugby (IGR) UK League, and internationally in the European and World Cup IGR competitions, the Union Cup & the Bingham Cup, as well as develop friendlies for brand new players against brand new clubs.

The Outlaws’ approach to inclusivity also takes in Kinky Boots (the women’s division of the Outlaws rugby family, formed in 2019), mirroring the men’s division in giving total beginners an opportunity to learn the game from scratch.

Jamie Higgins, Saints’ Inclusion Officer, added: “Northampton Outlaws as anyone can see are a Club big on inclusion, so who better to work with on Mixed Ability rugby?

“Those people we already engage with through Project Rugby just want to play and love local club rugby in the same way as in their existing Mixed Ability teams. I have no doubt that Northampton Outlaws is a Club with the values required to make this a resounding success.”

If you are aged 16+ with a learning disability or physical disability, or a player that wants to play socially and inclusively, you can pop along to the initial session as part of Northampton Outlaws’ “Sunday, Funday” event on Sunday 12 March at 1pm. The session will be held on Saints’ Pitch 3 (by the Ross Road Car Park entrance) and will be supported by coaches from both Outlaws and Northampton Saints.

Further information can also be requested from Northampton Saints’ Inclusion Officer, Jamie Higgins, at [email protected].

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