Sheffield Eagles to make Wheelchair Rugby League debut
Sheffield Eagles Wheelchair Rugby League team, operated by the Eagles Foundation, will make its debut this weekend with a friendly game against Rochdale Hornets, the same club that the Sheffield Eagles senior men’s team make its competitive debut against in 1984.
The game will take place on Saturday 6th November, 1.20pm Kick Off, at Rochdale Leisure Centre, Entwisle Road, Rochdale, OL16 2HZ.
Wheelchair Rugby League was launched in Sheffield in June of this year, with training taking place on Monday nights between 6.30pm and 8.00pm at Sheffield Hallam University’s Pearson Building and participant numbers have exceeded all expectations with over 25 players registered to play and around 16 players attending weekly.
This first friendly gives the team an opportunity to measure its progress against a team at a similar stage of development and to help identify the longer term level that the team should be playing at.
“I came to play Wheelchair Rugby League to engage with the sport that I used to enjoy” explained Stacey Roulson, a player who has attended almost every session since the team launched in June.
“I’ve been taking part because it’s a great atmosphere and everyone is really friendly. I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday and I’m sure everyone will do really well!”
Wheelchair Rugby League is a fully inclusive sport, with disabled and non-disabled players playing alongside one another and the Eagles Foundation has worked hard to attract everyone who is interested in playing to take part, with players of both genders ranging from the ages of 9 to over 50 taking part.
The game is played over 80 minutes and is designed to replicate the running game of Rugby League, with various law modifications to suit playing in a wheelchair, with tackles effected by removing a velcro tag from the opposition player’s shoulder and kicks being made with a clenched fist.
The launch of the team was made possible by the Eagles Foundation being awarded £16,994.71 to purchase capital equipment, including 8 sports Wheelchairs, by the Rugby League World Cup 2021 CreatedBy grant scheme, £1,000 support from the Sheffield Disability Network and £1,150 from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities grants.
“It has been an amazing four months since we launched the Wheelchair Rugby League team and I am very proud that we are able to take the next step and play this first game against Rochdale” said David Butler, Eagles Foundation Chairperson.
“We’ve got players who had never touched a rugby ball before coming down on a Monday night and now they’re tackling, passing and kicking alongside players who have more experience such as Steve Campbell who has played for Ireland.
"But most importantly they’re enjoying playing the game, making new friends and taking part in a fun and inclusive physical activity.
“We’re very grateful for the support that has been provided to establish the team” he continued. “By playing this first game we are able to show the partners who have invested into the team how far we have come and demonstrate that the Eagles Foundation is a trusted delivery partner.”
10 players will take part in the inaugural fixture: