By Barry Andrews
Torfaen Tigers have announced the launch of a Wheelchair Rugby League team and will be looking to compete in a proposed South Wales based league in 2021.
This follows the news earlier this week that Wales Rugby League have become one of the 26 National Governing bodies accepted onto Disability Sport Wales’ insport programme.
The Tigers have been active in Wales as a men’s side since the first modern community WRL season of 2003, reaching a UK national final in that first season and winning the Welsh title in 2013.
They currently run two men’s open age sides, along with boys’ junior sides at U12, U14 and U16 levels. They were also planning a women’s side for 2020 before COVID put a temporary halt to the season and those plans.
The Wales Wheelchair national side is ranked third in the world, after winning four successive Celtic Cup titles from 2016-2019, and with more new clubs launching soon, it will only increase the choice of players for Wales.
All of the new Wheelchair Rugby League sides that will be launched at existing Welsh community clubs will have their playing kit supplied to them by Wales Rugby League’s official kit supplier VX3.
Wales Wheelchair assistant coach Lyndon Price will coach the Tigers. He said: “It’s an extremely exciting time to be involved in this, the most inclusive variant of wheelchair rugby.
“Gareth Kear, the CEO of Wales Rugby League, is determined in his vision to expand Wheelchair Rugby League in South Wales to increase participation both locally, and via the selection process, the international player pool. I am delighted to be part of this vision.
“Having already conducted a market research exercise, I’ve seen that there is already a keen player base around Torfaen, and I can’t wait to meet them for the first time on court for a good push.
“I am immensely proud to have been asked to coach this new team and I look forward to working closely with Matt Cummins the Tigers enthusiastic chairman.”
Torfaen Tigers’ chairman Matt Cummins said: “I’m over the moon to be able to launch the Torfaen Tigers Wheelchair team. We as a club always try to be as inclusive, and the opportunity to start a Wheelchair Rugby League team to offer more opportunities for our local community was one we couldn’t pass up.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone as passionate and knowable as Lyndon joining us to lead the clubs new team and he has been a fundamental driving force in getting this off the ground.
“We are thrilled to be the first community club in Wales to launch a Wheelchair Rugby League team, and we are excited to be a big part of the growth in the sport in Wales.”
WRL CEO Gareth Kear said: “It is great news that Torfaen Tigers have launched the first Wales Rugby League and Rugby Football League sanctioned Wheelchair RL team in East Wales.
“It has been a pleasure working with Matt Cummins and Lyndon Price, and this is proof that development works when clubs collaborate with the National Governing Body.
“The Wales Rugby League strategy is for each existing WRL community club to provide Rugby League for everyone in the community, which includes juniors, open-age, Masters and Wheelchair.
“In 2021, we will have Rugby League community clubs in South Wales at Cardiff, Bridgend, Rhondda, Aberavon, Caerphilly and Torfaen. These clubs will play in both WRL and RFL wheelchair competitions, as well as delivering taster sessions throughout South and East Wales.”
Wheelchair Rugby League is an inclusive sport, so it can be played by anyone. The rules are nearly identical to the running game of rugby league with slight adaptations.
Some of these include the amount of players being five-a-side, it’s played on an indoor court with a slightly smaller ball, and to “tackle”, a player must remove a tag from the shoulder of a player.
For more details on Torfaen Tigers Wheelchair RL, please contact Lyndon Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.