Inclusive Rugby

Wimbledon RFC has an Inclusive Rugby team for special needs Kids

Wimbledon rugby has a long and proud history. Founded way back in 1865 they celebrated their 150th anniversary back in 2015. They are also pleased to record a much more recent milestone. This was the end of their sixth year running an Inclusive Rugby group as part of their mini & youth offer.

The Inclusive Rugby group provides coaching to children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and disabilities. They run the group alongside the rest of their minis just like any other age group.

John Woods the development manager at the club said ”we heard about an organization called Inclusive Rugby  and invited Craig McIntosh to come over and tell us all about it. Once we heard more we put it to our minis group and they just said 'why wouldn’t we get involved in something as good as this?' We firmly believe rugby has something to offer above other sports and is a real force for good so it follows we should make it available to as many children as possible."

We started small but expect it to grow and grow. The children and the parent’s just love it and it is such a fantastic and enjoyable group to be involved in we have no doubt it will remain part of our Sunday morning sessions for as long as we’re still here.

One of the first members of the coaching squad to put his hand up to help was Edward Beale who, with help from his son Tim has become the groups head coach. Edward says “we basically run a tag rugby session like any other. We try and vary the drill as much a possible and keep them short so the players don’t lose interest but we always have a ball in hand and promote the core values of rugby just like we do for our U6s or our U18s”

One of the very first players to sign up was Louis. John wasted no time in roping his Mum Hannah in to help out. Hannah told us “we were already attending the club on Sunday mornings as Louis’s brother played in one of the other groups. As a family we were really pleased to hear about this new group and offered our support immediately. Louis love the sessions and really looks forward to it. He has noticeably improved during the course of the season, not just his motor skills, although I am proud to say he does make a pretty good spin pass but also his communication and social skills. Much more importantly he just enjoys it. For me it’s great to just go to sports club with Louis and his brother like anyone else. We’re not singled out for special treatment or given a separate afternoon we just turn up and get stuck in like everyone else”

Another member of the starting team was Stephane Laventure. Steph has been a player and coach at the club for more years than he wants to own up to. His own youth group having passed out a couple of years back Steph now helps out wherever he’s needed and that’s often with the Inclusive group. Steph, who was also head of sport at a local school says ”I don’t think of it as running a “special” group of any kind I just run a coaching session. It is enormous fun and the kids have come on so much you can’t help but feel proud of them. Communication is key at all levels of the game and frankly the inclusive lot often respond quicker to new drills and moves than some of my youth teams. I’m definitely signed up for next year and can’t wait to see the players back in September with hopefully a few new ones to enjoy the fun. 

So already being able to boast they were a founder member of the RFU Wimbledon can now lay claim to being one of the first clubs in the area to offer inclusive rugby. They are keen to sign up new players and happy to share their experience with any other clubs who want to start their own group.

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