THE Welsh Rugby Union has welcomed the news that Principality Stadium has been chosen as the venue of the 2023 World Wheelchair Rugby European Championship Division A Tournament.
Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) confirmed the news on Wednesday, November 17.
As Great Britain enjoys unprecedented success in wheelchair rugby, having claimed victory in the last three consecutive European Championships, and following an historic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games this summer, the vision for the event is clear – to deliver the best European Championships ever.
This will be achieved not just by producing the ultimate experience for athletes, fans, volunteers and partners but by creating a legacy of more people playing, volunteering and supporting the high impact, adrenaline packed game in Wales.
The eight-team event, which will be held in the iconic Principality Stadium in Cardiff from the 3-7 May 2023, will act as a qualifier for Paris 2024, with the top two teams automatically qualifying for the Paralympic Games.
Jim Roberts, GBWR gold medallist said: “What a time for wheelchair rugby! I was honoured to represent GB in Tokyo this summer and to return home with a gold medal was amazing. Now to have GBWR showcase such a major event in my home country is just fantastic and I have no doubt that this is going to be brilliant for the sport I’ve spent so much time involved with.
“I don’t believe there is anywhere more passionate about rugby than Wales and our world class stadium will showcase wheelchair rugby at its very best. I am passionate about promoting the game and will be fully behind the community engagement planned as we aim to leave a true and lasting legacy in Wales.”
Community engagement and legacy were essential components of the winning bid and will form an important element in the lead up to, during and post the Championships. The intention is to build on the development work of GB Wheelchair Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union to ensure a meaningful legacy with the tournament organisers working closely with the Welsh Government, Cardiff City Council, schools and colleges, the Welsh Rugby Union, Disability Sport Wales, UK Sport and GBWR.
Whilst helping the community to better understand the challenges faced by those who are disabled, a key focus will also be on inspiration and motivation, demonstrating that disability is no barrier to an individual achieving their dreams. Alongside the tournament will be a festival of entertainment which will include a celebrity wheelchair rugby match.
WRU Community Director Geraint John said: “We’re delighted to host the World Wheelchair Rugby European Championships at Principality Stadium. Wheelchair rugby is a thrilling brand of rugby, and an integral part of our Disability Rugby strategy.
“We are working hard, alongside partners such as GBWR to increase inclusive opportunities across all formats so that everyone can take part in our national sport and there is no doubt that hosting these Championships will create a real legacy in terms of the growth of this exciting sport. Let the games begin!”
The WRU and the Principality Stadium have been at the forefront of supporting the championship coming to Wales and being staged in the home of Welsh rugby. The stadium will give athletes an opportunity to perform in a venue which reflects their world standing as elite athletes in front of a passionate rugby-loving crowd.
The championships will be supported with grants from UK Sport, Welsh Government and GB Wheelchair Rugby, and with partner support from WRU, Cardiff City Council and Disability Sport Wales. An Event Delivery Board chaired by David Pond, former CEO of GBWR who led the team to victory in Tokyo and masterminded the successful bid, will be responsible for delivering the championships and will include former Wales rugby international Rupert Moon, Welsh Gold medal Paralympian swimmer Liz Johnson and wheelchair rugby star Jim Roberts.
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said: “The Welsh Government are proud champions of disability sport and we’re absolutely delighted to welcome this event to Wales – the spiritual home of rugby.”
Richard Allcroft, the President of World Wheelchair Rugby, added: “I was impressed with the quality of the bid that was presented to WWR. As the International Federation responsible for the sport globally, our championship events are an important showcase for what we know is an exciting sport. I have no doubt that the Welsh community will welcome us and support an exciting event. I look forward to seeing how the event grows over the next 18 months.”