The Xcessible Youth Sport Initiative, launched by the IRFU and CARA in January, is taking off around the country. One example of its success is Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Ballincollig where Munster Rugby recently introduced an adapted version of Tag rugby to the pupils.
The coaches’ visits to the school were part of the Xcessible Inclusive Youth Sports scheme, a three-year national focused initiative which the IRFU have introduced to increase the participation opportunities for children with disabilities in rugby.
The ‘Special Schools Tag Rugby’ game is being implemented on a weekly basis within Special Schools and with cooperation from the IRFU, the Local Sports Partnership Sports Inclusion Disability Programme, Irish Special Schools Sports Council and local rugby clubs.
Cork Sports Partnership, Munster Rugby, Ballincollig RFC and Our Lady of Good Counsel School have come together to run an adapted Tag rugby programme for pupils at the Ballincollig school. It was delivered on a weekly basis by coaches from Munster Rugby, Ballincollig RFC and supported by the local Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with Cork Sports Partnership, Padraig Healy.
The first four sessions took place in the school and the final two sessions at Ballincollig RFC, giving the students an opportunity to be part of the local rugby club by playing on the grounds and being coached by club volunteers.
Euan Gee, Community Development Officer with Munster Rugby, said: “Munster Rugby are delighted to be delivering this partnership initiative with Cork Sports Partnership, Ballincollig RFC and Our Lady of Good Counsel School. Rugby is a sport for all to play and this initiative helps to break down the barriers that might have hindered individuals with disabilities from participating in the past.”
To further enhance the sustainability of the Special Schools Tag Rugby scheme, over 100 IRFU staff have completed the National Disability Inclusion Training coordinated by the CARA Centre.
Kate Feeney from CARA commented: “We are delighted to be working with the IRFU and local Sports Partnerships to roll out this initiative throughout the country. It is a fantastic opportunity for children in special schools to enjoy all the fundamental skills of Tag rugby in a fun enjoyable environment, while creating a club school link with rugby clubs in their community.”
The IRFU and rugby clubs around the country are developing a sustainable structure for people with disabilities to participate in rugby. Great progress is being made locally. Indeed, the recently formed Enniskillen Elks, at Enniskillen RFC, are the 10th disability Tag rugby section to be formed in Ulster alone.
Scott Walker, IRFU Director of Rugby Development, added: “The IRFU’s values promote rugby as an inclusive sport and our partnership with CARA will open the game up to more people and increase the number of kids engaging in physical activity and enjoying the fun and other benefits rugby can deliver.”
The Xcessible Inclusive Youth Sport ‘Special Schools Tag Rugby’ initiative is taking place from January 19 to April 10, 2015. For further information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.caraapacentre.ie.