The Clan to perform on world stage

A mixed ability rugby team representing Scotland will take to the world stage in Spain next week.

The Scottish Clan are competing for the second time in the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament, having emerged unbeaten from their debut two years ago.

Mixed ability or unified rugby enables players with a learning disability or autism to play alongside those who do not.

The International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament aims to improve participation and interaction of all abilities and build new links between clubs, schools, and local authorities.

Socially the players can join in concerts and “third half-times” after the matches.

There will also be an academic side to the competition with renowned speakers presenting their views on how to achieve inclusion.

This year there will be 16 teams competing from around the globe in the tournament in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

The Clan consists of 49 people: 32 players and 17 parents, helpers and coaches, and operates under the umbrella of Trust Rugby International, a partner organisation of Scottish Rugby and which is doing pioneering work in coach education for World Rugby.

Stevie Main, the development team leader for Trust Rugby International outlined their aspirations. He said: “First of all for the players to gain another experience. 

When we competed last time in Bradford our opposition were all UK teams. This time we’ll be playing a team from Argentina which will be a completely different proposition. Then it’s all about enjoyment and hopefully progressing in the tournament as far as we can.”

The team are also pleased by the kit supplied by Scottish Rugby for the team when they play in Spain. Main said: “It will underline team unity and there will be a lot of pride at having this kit.” 

The Clan have also been fundraising to help with costs: “We have done a number of fund-raising events and a bucket collection at the European Champions Cup Final at BT Murrayfield to help the squad to travel,” Main added.

The Scottish Clan ambassador, Scotland and Edinburgh Rugby centre, Mark Bennett said: “The impact unified rugby is having on people who would not normally have the support, which they then get through rugby, is huge. 

They make friends for life and are a tight-knit group.”

The team fly out from Edinburgh to Bilbao on Sunday and return the following week. The competition runs from the 21-25 August. They are in group A alongside the English side the Bumble Bees from Bradford and the Argentinian side the Pumas XV B. Their first match is against the Bumble Bees on Tuesday 22 August.

The Scottish Clan squad to play in the 2017 International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament

Ryan Caldwell, Andrew Murray, Darren Sim, James Dorrans, Paul Johnston, Calum Lenghean – all Ayrshire Clan

Alan Brown, Gavin Buonaccorsi, Ciaran Frater, Stevie Main – Ayrshire Clan / Kilmarnock RFC

John Cairns – Ayrshire Clan / Orkney

Michael Connely, Liam Deary, Josh Nisbet, Josh Rogers, Andrew Scotland – Edinburgh Clan

Dom Anderson – Edinburgh Clan/ Bo’ness

Derek Blackley, Ryan Collins – Edinburgh Clan / Lasswade

Ingnacio Luna Borras, Gordon Lyons – Edinburgh Clan, RHC Cougars

Neil Smith – Edinburgh Clan / Dalkeith

Gregor Devine – Edinburgh Accies

Greg Coultas, Alex Cuthberson, Alan Dobbs, Marco Esposito, Graham Paterson, Jack Paterson, David Woods – Glasgow Clan

Ciaran Armstrong – Glasgow Clan / Durham Uni

Shabaz Khan – Glasgow Clan / Cartha