The exciting and explosive sport of Wheelchair Rugby has had a great start in Northamptonshire.
After a series of Taster Sessions organised by Northampton Saints and Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR), with support from Northamptonshire Sport, there has been sufficient interest to establish the club, meaning that there are more opportunities for other people with a disability to join the newly formed Northampton Saints Wheelchair Rugby Club.
The next phase of the development is to attract more players to make the club sustainable in the long-term. Anyone attending for the first time gets to try the sport for free for the first four weeks, so that they can find out if it’s for them. After that, the only cost to players is an annual membership to GBWR which provides players with insurance cover. Training currently takes place on a Monday night, from 7.00pm to 8.30pm at Weston Favell Sports Centre and all equipment is supplied by the club.
“We are delighted that we have had such a good response to the initial offer of Wheelchair Rugby in Northampton and the county,” said Saints community officer Connor Fleming. “Those who’ve had a go are really keen to continue and just love the impact that the sport has on them, both on and off the court.”
The club is open to all players with a disability and Saints are keen to establish a youth offer, too. Young players aged 12 and over can train and compete against adults. Students from Friars Academy in Wellingborough have already taken part in some sessions at the school and in November, represented Northampton Saints in a national tournament at Stoke Mandeville.
Sixteen-year-old club member, Kascie Higgins, has international connections within the sport. His cousin, Andreas Collin is a member of the Swedish national team that competed at the Rio Paralympics. Andreas is delighted that Kascie has taken up Wheelchair Rugby and has been encouraging him to enjoy the sport. Who knows, one day, they may play against each other!
Beth Phillips, 23, is also new to the sport and in a recent blog said: “When I take part in sports I feel energised, and I love the competitiveness of rugby. Afterwards, I feel like I have achieved something and it gives me a real self-esteem boost.”
GBWR Regional Development Officer, Simon Starr added: “Wheelchair Rugby is an amazing sport, with the power to change people’s lives.
“Since the London Paralympic Games in 2012, we have seen the number of teams increase from seven to 22 and having Northampton Saints as the latest addition is superb. The club and Northamptonshire Sport have done a fantastic job in setting things up and we now need to strengthen all areas. If you want to try this gripping sport, then please come and give it a try.”
The Saints Wheelchair Rugby Club is looking for players, volunteers and funding to purchase Rugby Wheelchairs for the club, so if you are interested in playing or can help in any way, please contact Connor Fleming in the first instance on 07984 915 313 or by e-mail at [email protected]