You can do anything you want

Scottish Rugby and its own charity are giving three injured players the chance to savour a new experience in a competitive setting.

Working alongside the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation, the trio will take part in a Four-Home Nations sailing voyage from Dublin to Cardiff from tomorrow (Monday 4 June).

The voyage is the brainchild of Robbie Crow, from Airth, near Falkirk, Engagement Officer with the Jubilee Sailing Trust.

Robbie, who is visually impaired and is a keen rugby fan, is also a crew member and watch leader at the Ocean Youth Trust.

He contacted Scottish Rugby suggesting that the challenges and lessons to be learned from crewing a sail boat could prove inspiring for injured players and with the help of Scottish Rugby’s welfare officer, Stuart Dow, arrangements were put in place between the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation and the Jubilee Sailing Trust.

Now, with financial support from the Foundation, Ciaran Pryce from Shawlands, Glasgow, Connor Hughes from Kelso and former Scotland hooker and captain Gary Callander, will join the tall ship Lord Nelson in Dublin later today and set sail for Cardiff 24 hours later.

Lord Nelson was designed by Colin Mudie from Edinburgh with a view to being functional and practical for people with a wide range of disabilities and physical challenges.

Ciaran, 26, who sustained his rugby injury almost 11 years ago, uses a wheelchair, is a second-year biology student with the Open University and is part of the GB Development wheelchair rugby team.

He said: “Apart from a catamaran on a lake and canoeing a couple of times I’ve never really been on a boat so I’m not sure what it will be like.

“But it will be good to try something new and just see how much I can do.”

Connor, 23, who was injured playing for Stirling University in 2014, is another sailing novice.

“It will be a new experience.  It will be the first time (since his accident) that I will be away without a family member so it will be a big test of my independence, I guess,” he said.

Now studying astronomy through the Open University, Connor intends to start wheelchair rugby when he returns from the sailing trip.

“I try not to let my disability hold me back.  Essentially you can do anything you want.  You just have to find a way,” he added.

Gary, 58, won six caps for Scotland between 1984 and 1988, and in recent years has undergone surgery on his back, neck and knee.

He said: “I’m perfectly well within myself and you look on the bright side and know there are people worse off.

“What am I looking to achieve from the voyage? Probably what I’ve always looked to achieve.  I get a great kick from helping people out.  I’m trying to put something back and bring people together. We’ll have duties to do on board, working as a team and having a few laughs.”

Lord Nelson will arrive in Cardiff on Saturday (9 June) and the players will fly back to Scotland the next day.

Ian Rankin, Chairman of the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation, said: “We are delighted to fund this opportunity for Ciaran, Connor and Gary.

“If this gives everyone on the ship the chance to focus on what they can do, make new friends and have a bit of rivalry then that has to be good.”

You can find out more about the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation and how you can donate to the charity on http://www.scottishrugby.org/about-us/charities/murrayfield-injured-players-foundation

Written by
Graham Law