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Creating A Disability Section In Your Rugby Club: Portadown Panthers Case Study

Creating A Disability Section In Your Rugby Club: Portadown Panthers Case Study


Portadown Panthers Learning Disability Rugby Team are one of a number of examples of strong programmes across the four provinces offering rugby to people with disabilities.  

To mark International Day Of People with Disabilities, the club’s own Ian and Karen Flack spoke to IRFU Disability & Inclusion Officer David McKay about how they make rugby for people with disabilities work well and how rewarding it is for them. 

You can watch the full chat with the Flacks here. 

“Every Saturday we have rugby with the panthers is just a bitter craic,” said Ian. 

“Yes there is hard work behind it, planning and everything else but when you get down on the pitch and you’re getting high fives…all the players are buying into it. 

“If they go away happy and have succeeded and feel happy and positive about themselves and how well they have done, that’s perfect. That’s our job done and we go away as well as coaches feeling that we are bringing these players on. We are developing them. Some will develop at different levels, different speeds but it’s like any child. 

You might have to bring the skill down into more intricate parts to build it up again. That’s part of the fun, part of the challenge for the coaches. I just find it so rewarding and so much fun. It does me the power of good.

Karen Flack says, “The enjoyment that I got as a player, I got watching my family – it’s lovely to be able to pass that on and offer that opportunity and they sense of belonging and achievement and fun and teamwork to these children.” 

“I love the fact that we offer this. This is something that none of our parents every thought their children would play.” 

If you would like to find out more about setting up a disability section in your rugby club, learning about the IRFU’s Disability Awareness training or have any questions please click here to email our Disability & Inclusion Officer, David McKay