Edinburgh Giants Wheelchair Rugby League

Even though I have only been to one training session I have fallen in love with the sport of wheelchair rugby league and Edinburgh Giants.

Being part of something again fills me with so much joy and hope. Even just writing this so far I feel buoyed up thinking that it is only 2 days till the next training session (and 3 days till I cant move my arms).

As my health has declined particularly my mobility I have almost resigned myself to not being able to be part of a team sport again. I fall into the funny no mans land where I am not able to participate in able bodied sports but also don’t qualify for most parasports. (Don’t get me wrong I am very aware & grateful that my disability s not bad enough to qualify for parasport). I didnt know that there were any sports I could do until I heard about wheelchair rugby league last summer as an old lacrosse team mate was the lead referee in the final. I had asked a while before the world cup if there were any taster sessions but at that time there wasn’t. Quite by chance I was on social media one night going down a bit of a rabbit hole as you do and came across Edinburgh Giants who have just formed and were running some taster sessions. I couldn’t go to the first one as I have the Severe Asthma Peer Support Group on a Wednesday night but made it to the second one.

Before the training sessions I was really nervous. Going to something new where you know no one and have no experience of the sport is quite daunting but I didnt need to be. As soon as I walked in I felt at ease, relaxed and knew I would enjoy myself. I didnt realise quite how much I have missed being in a team environment working together to achieve a goal. It has boosted me so much, I have been in quite a low place recently due to the limitations I have but this has given me a bit of a boost. I think it is also because we were all equal and don’t have to make adaptations to play the game where as this was happening with various different things I did.

Having never played wheelchair rugby league or even rugby league I was able to draw on my experience from almost 15 years ago when I played rugby at Winchester University (this is when I was given my nickname Tux) and various other team sports I have played. Using my past knowledge of defence and attack worked and I felt confident using my voice when playing to make sure that players were covered and gaps spotted. I am really excited to go back on Wednesday and learn more and get to know the other members of the club who will hopefully become my teammates if I make the team.

Wheelchair rugby league (WRL) is one of the most inclusive sports as anyone can play it even with limited movement of the arms, you can also have completely able bodied people on the team too so basically anyone that wants to play can. It is not to be confused with wheelchair rugby also known as murder ball which is very fast paced and brutal. WRL uses a size 4 rugby ball and tags on the shoulders like you see used in tag rugby. You also have extra tags on a belt on your lap to replace the ones on your shoulder if they are taken off or fall off. The aim is to remove the tags but you can make contact with your chair on another persons chair but the contact is not quite like in murder ball. As I am still very new to the sport I don’t know the ins and outs etc like other sports I play.

Edinburgh Giants is a new club and still trying to raise its profile. I am hoping I can get involved in this and use the experience I had when involved in lacrosse particularly around fundraising etc. For a new club they are amazingly organised and have a clear vision of what they want to do and where they want to go. I would encourage you to have a look at the Edinburgh Giants website to learn more and find out about player sponsorship and team sponsorship. If anyone is reading this and interested please get in touch with me as it would be worth it.

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