A Scottish rugby club has played host to a ground-breaking international rugby tournament.
Kilmarnock RFC welcomed the Trust rugby international Tri-unions Cup to their Bellsland ground, a triangular unified rugby tournament where disabled players played alongside non-disabled players.
In partnership with the NHS Ayrshire & Arran, the Scottish Government, and Kilmarnock Rugby Club, three teams came together representing each of the home nations - Scotland, England, and Wales.
The participants were the hosts from Kilmarnock RFC named the Clan: Bradford & Bingley Bumble Bees, and founders Llanelli Warriors RFC.
With the exception of contested scrums the 'unified' rugby matches featured all of the rules of the adult game, as the format allowed players with both physical and learning disabilities to commit to a competitive level of rugby.
Gwilym Lewis of the Llanelli Warriors said: “The Tri-unions Cup helps facilitate this social integration for these disabled players by building their personal confidence through duties to the team effort such as tackling, communication, and teamwork.
“This confidence and source of self-esteem created on the pitch can then be applied to other facets of life. “
The overall aim of Trust Rugby International is to bring diverse individuals, communities, and cultures together through rugby.
Jamie Armstrong, development director of Trust rugby international said: “The tournamnet lets non-disabled players with no experience of interacting with disabled people to bridge this gap. This allows the breaking down of the limiting assumptions that people hold of what disabled people are capable of doing.”
The Bradford and Bingley Bumble Bees were the winners of the inaugural tournament which the organisers hope to make an annual event.
Bumble Bees coach Stephen Jones said: “The Tri-unions Cup gives many of these disabled players a sense of purpose and belonging, making a real difference to their lives.
Armstrong said: “The Tri-unions Cup is a showcase that raises the possibility of growing unified rugby from regional level to the national through public awareness as well as providing a pathway for player development.
“It allowed Trust Rugby International to gain further support from the Scottish Government in the form of a three-year funding scheme, with unified rugby due to be set up this August at Inch Park in Edinburgh, the home of Lismore RFC.”
Trust Rugby International’s next project, working in conjunction with NHS Ayrshire & Arran is to develop an inclusive rugby sevens programme for under 18s and adults with a learning disability.
If you would like to obtain more information or get involved in Trust Rugby International contact:
Trust Rugby International
NHS Ayrshire & Arran
Tel: 01292 885949