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Vision Impaired Workshops Provide ‘Wonderful Opportunity’

A photo of the launch of the Vision Impaired Rugby programme at Old Wesley

Pictured are Alex Bassan (Change Foundation) Kristina Millar (Vision Sports Ireland), David Mckay (IRFU), Front Row Niall Kerley (Leinster Rugby), Michael Weafer (Old Wesley RFC), Ian Mckinley and Nigel Poff (President of Old Wesley RFC)

The IRFU, in partnership with Old Wesley RFC, Vision Sports Ireland and The Change Foundation, has concluded a series of a coaching workshops for volunteers interested in coaching Vision Impaired (VI) Rugby, in preparation for a programme of practical events for VI participants in the coming months.

The course concluded on Saturday 21st August at Old Wesley RFC in Dublin, and feedback on the initiative has been extremely positive.

Former Italian international Ian McKinley was among the presenters at the workshop. McKinley, who recently took up the role of Head Coach at Rainey Old Boys, is an ambassador for the Change Foundation.

McKinley’s story of  rebuilding his career after losing the sight in one eye is the subject of an inspirational World Rugby documentary – click here.

David McKay, IRFU Disability and Inclusion Officer, said, “We are really grateful to Vision Sports Ireland and The Change Foundation for their support in helping to deliver this pilot programme.

The enthusiasm from all of the coaches has shown there is a real demand to provide effective training for VI rugby and I encourage anyone with an interest in participating in VI Rugby to register their interest”

A recent IRFU Disability & Inclusion survey showed a strong appetite for more adapted forms of rugby with over 50% of those with a visual impairment interested in joining a team with players of similar ability.

Commenting on  the success of the scheme to date Nigel Poff, President of Old Wesley RFC, said, “I am delighted with the success of the VI training programme and I am looking forward to positive outcomes of the Pilot, with the support of the club.

We are dedicated to promoting the Spirit of Rugby throughout Ireland and this initiative goes a long way in establishing a platform for world class VI rugby.”

Pádraig Healy, National Sports Development Manager, Vision Sports Ireland, commented,  “Vision Sports Ireland are delighted to collaborate with IRFU, Change Foundation and Old Wesley RFC to bring Vision Impaired rugby to Ireland.

“It’s encouraging to have such a wonderful attendance for the coach training day, as having good volunteers is imperative for the sustainability of the programme.

We are really excited about the launch of the programme and giving people with a vision impairment the opportunity to enjoy the physical and social benefits of playing rugby and being part of a club.”

The Pilot Scheme will be held in Old Wesley RFC in Dublin, from 12.00pm to 1.00pm on the following dates:
25th September
9th October
23rd October
13th November

Anyone interested in taking part can register by clicking here.

For more information on the VI Rugby programme  please email David McKay

What is Vision Impaired Rugby?

VI Rugby is modelled on traditional rugby and takes elements from both Union and League codes while it is most similar to competitive touch rugby. The game is played in a 7-a-side format with two handed touch with referee commentary assisting players throughout gameplay.

To assist participants the ball contains ball bearings to give audible support and bright coloured bibs are used. Scrums (3 v 3) and line-outs are uncontested and there is no kicking permitted in open play.

The game is for all visionally impaired players male and female aged 18 and above with B1 to B5 sight classification.