The curtain came down on a massively successful International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament 2022 in Cork last Friday evening with the words of Alan Craughwell (IRFU Chair of Disability Rugby, IMART World Cup Director) ringing around Musgrave Park:
“Inclusion Matters. Sport Matters. We can’t stop now.”
Members of Ballincollig Trailblazers, Banbridge Barbarians, DLSP Vikings, Malone Tornadoes, Sundays Well Rebels and West Cork Jesters had all represented Irish Rugby and our Spirit Of Rugby values with honour across four days of rugby.
There was silverware for Ballincollig Trailblazers in the Women’s event while DLSP Vikings proudly donned the jerseys of Banbridge Barbarians to help the Ulster men to success in the bowl competition. West Cork Jesters and Malone Tornadoes embodied the tournament’s values throughout the week and finished with aplomb as every member of their squad scored in their final games.
Sundays Well Rebels made it through to the showpiece Men’s Cup final on Friday evening. It was a thrilling affair, won by the hosts against a formidable Oshawa Vikings outfit.
Danny Lynch and James Healy combined to put the rebels on the front foot early in the first half which ultimately lead to Scrum Half Eoin O’Connell sniping over for the opening try.
Vikings hit a purple patch shortly before the break with Malcolm Hooper leading the charge. The Canadians even managed to cross the line twice but some brave defence held them up and kept the score 5-0 at half time.
Richard Philpott emptied the tank for the Rebels in the second half and it led to a huge carry from Stephen Carroll under the posts. That committed Viking’s defence and created the space for Mick Moynihan to score the rebels’ second try.
Toby Ware was one of the stars of the tournament and he showed just why late in the game. Combining with Stuart McReynolds, the Vikings winger took possession outside the 22 and pumped his legs all the way to the line for a score that had the whole stadium on their feet. It finished Sundays Well 10-5 Oshawa Vikings in a moment that summed up the spirit of the whole week.
“My hope would be that this is only the start,” says IRFU Disability & Inclusion Officer David McKay, himself a volunteer and player with the Malone Tornadoes.
“There is a place for everyone in the rugby family and Mixed Ability Rugby is designed to give everyone the chance to belong to a rugby club.”
“There are six active mixed ability teams around the provinces at the moment and our hope is that IMART can inspire more clubs to offer mixed ability rugby to their members.
“We’ve seen former internationals come out of retirement to play alongside our star players along with current Energia AIL players and former junior players.
“At the heart of it is a drive to provide a positive rugby experience through rugby for people of all ages and abilities, especially those who wouldn’t have access to rugby otherwise.”
For more information on providing mixed ability rugby in your community, please email IRFU Disability & Inclusion Officer, David McKay.