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WRU smashes Wheelchair Rugby engagement record

OFF-the-back on an incredible Wheelchair Rugby European Championship competition at Principality Stadium earlier this month, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is proud to announce it has smashed its target to get 3,000 people playing wheelchair rugby; more than doubling the result with over 7,000 children, teens and adults engaged in wheelchair rugby activities.

WRU National Inclusion Manager, Darren Carew says, “the Wheelchair Rugby European Championship saw the culmination of 12 months of work by the WRU and regional foundations come to completion.

“The original goal given was to reach 3000 people, but I’m delighted to say we engaged a final total of 7,371 children, teens and adults in wheelchair rugby activities. That is an average of 614 participants per month.

“To hit this level of engagement we qualified an additional 111 Level 1 Wheelchair Rugby coaches over this period which included WRU staff, hub officers, apprentices, regional foundation staff and community coaches who all went onto deliver sessions across Wales, in schools, clubs and communities. It was a monumental effort by everyone involved!

“France may have taken gold in the final at the championship, but we definitely achieved gold in the execution of our engagement plan and I’m hopeful that Welsh wheelchair rugby teams will benefit from this for years to come.”

The major stadium event which ran from May 3-7, was the first stadium event of it’s kind in the UK, putting wheelchair rugby on a global platform.

Gold medal winning Paralympic champion and Great Britain wheelchair rugby team player, Aaron Phipps said “It has been spectacular, the best Euros ever, and it has been amazing to be a part of it. Playing at the home of rugby, having loads of supporters coming down, it has been absolutely huge. Seeing how far this sport has come is special.”

It was another first for Principality Stadium Manager Mark Williams who was delighted with how the event went, and the reaction of both the players from the eight nations taking part and the fans who came to the Welsh capital.

“We reconfigured the stadium to create a stage that was fit for this major event. On court the players were brilliant, so committed and skillful, while off it, the fans were amazing,” said Williams.

“There was a huge buzz in the city for the five days and the final was so exciting. If this was a foretaste to what Paris can expect at the Paralympic Games, then it is going to be spectacular.”

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The Welsh Rugby Union remains the only national governing body that owns chairs specially made for wheelchair rugby with 30 chairs available to each regional foundation upon request for use in their community.

Carew adds, “The excitement that we have built around the sport across Wales is incredible, there’s an appetite to engage within the regions and we have the tools from the physical wheelchairs and trained coaching staff to deliver. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months brings as we continue to work together along with partners at Disability Sport Wales and Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby to continue this amazing legacy we have started.”

Fans interested in playing wheelchair rugby can find their local club on the GBWR website: https://gbwr.org.uk/find-a-club/