Mixed Ability Rugby joins the GO Rugby family
Rugby is a game for anyone and everyone. There is no better proof of this than the current growth of Mixed Ability Rugby. We are thrilled to be helping support that growth by adding a Mixed Ability grade, hosted by the Cardiff Chiefs, at this years GO Rugby Festival in Cardiff.
Since I first came across MA Rugby I have loved hearing of the stories from across the world. Players running out onto the field for the first time in their lives and thriving on every minute as part of their new team. The open-to-all grade embodies the ethos we're building with the GO Rugby UK Festivals, so I was grateful to be able to catch up with IMAS (International Mixed Ability Sports) founders, Mark Goodwin and Martino Corazza. I wanted to find out more about this inspiring new member of the GO Rugby family and hear a few more tales.
"Everyone can play, regardless of experience, age, gender, ability, background, sexual orientation or self-perception."
What is IMAS and Mixed Ability Rugby?
IMAS leads a global movement challenging the orthodoxy of grassroots sport provision. Our vision is to radically change the way we think of, join in and enjoy sports, in order to create a fairer and more equal society.
Mixed Ability rugby recognises the right of everyone to participate in our Game, without being separated, classified or labelled. Mixed Ability rugby follows the same World Rugby rules and regulations, with no adaptations and only minor adjustments to take into account participants’ needs.
Who is involved?
Everyone can play, regardless of experience, age, gender, ability, background, sexual orientation or self-perception.
How did it start?
In the heartland of Wales, over twenty-five years ago, people with physical and learning disabilities were playing full contact rugby with their friends, family and staff from care organisations. This organic growth of Mixed Ability rugby accelerated rapidly when IMAS worked with disabled players to produce a guide, educational resources and promotional materials for grassroots rugby clubs. The roll out of the model was promptly supported by England Rugby in the lead to 2015 RWC. It is becoming increasingly ‘normal’ for clubs to host a Mixed Ability team and recognise the right of disabled people to be included in the rugby family as equals, enjoying the same mainstream full contact rugby game.
Who is it for?
Mixed Ability rugby is for everyone, following National Governing Body regulations.
"Rugby has always been more accepting of diversity"
What is it about rugby that makes it so suitable for Mixed Ability participation?
Rugby has always been more accepting of diversity perhaps because players of all shapes and sizes and abilities come together to form a team of XV supporting each other on the pitch and socially following the game. Rugby also offered softer variants, for example touch or tag rugby.
What is your favourite on-field moment so-far?
Seeing the 22-stone “Big Lee” allow a more disabled player from the opposition to push him back over the try line. It was a real “Spirit of Mixed Ability Rugby” moment!
What is your favourite off-field moment so far?
Being with 800 hundred people in a marquee during the first International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament in 2015, celebrating the presentation of the inaugural “Spirit of Mixed Ability Rugby Trophy” following the lead of Gaztedi Rugby Taldea’s by leaping in the air and rhythmically patting their heads singing “Tiburones”… you had to be there!
"Seeing the 22-stone “Big Lee” allow a more disabled player from the opposition to push him back over the try line. It was a real “Spirit of Mixed Ability Rugby” moment!"
What are you looking forward to next?
We have already organised two International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournaments and are currently planning for the 3rd one in Cork in 2020. Each tournament brings its own challenges! IMART 2020 will engage 15+ countries, 750 participants and 24 teams over a week of Mixed Ability competition.
What does the future of Mixed Ability Rugby look like?
Global! Mixed Ability Rugby teams are now rapidly developing in Argentina and other South American countries, and the first MA teams are evolving in Mauritius, Canada and New Zealand! We want to continue to support new teams wherever they might come together.
"The GO Rugby Festivals open doors to a wider audience and we fully expect that more clubs will see the value of starting their Mixed Ability journey."
What are you looking forward to with the GO Rugby partnership?
This is a natural development as the rugby family welcomes players from all walks of life and of all abilities. For many people when they see a Mixed Ability game the “penny drops” and they realise that MA teams are “just another team”. The GO Rugby Festivals open doors to a wider audience and we fully expect that more clubs will see the value of starting their Mixed Ability journey.
Will we see you with your boots on at our 2018 Festival?
August is the last opportunity for both of us to pull our boots on before jetting off on holidays… Fingers crossed for no injuries!
I am thoroughly looking forward to welcoming Mark, Martino and all Mixed Ability players at this years Festivals!
GO Rugby Director
Find out more about IMAS and Mixed Abiilty Rugby here on their website.
Are you part of a Mixed Ability side who would like to play at our 2018 Cardiff or 2019 Festivals? We would love to have you join us and be hosted by Cardiff Chiefs:
If you want to join one of the teams at our 2018 Cardiff Festival then just grab a ticket and we'll introduce you to one of the sides attending:
Don't forget - we have so much more as well as rugby for all of you who don't fancy running out on the pitch - Live Music, boutique local food vendors, Cider showcase, gin tent and kids zone! Get your spectator tickets here:
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