​Edinburgh Rugby inclusive team showcase the unity of rugby

​Edinburgh Rugby inclusive team showcase the unity of rugby

For many, rugby is the ultimate team game. A sport that not only tests a player’s individual skill and endurance, but their ability to be part of a collective group, that has to work in unison to achieve one goal.

And it’s exactly those attributes that shine bright in the Edinburgh Rugby inclusive team, a side that was set up – originally as the Edinburgh Clan, but are now aligned to the capital club - to bring together both able bodied players and those with a physical or learning disability, to compete in one unified outfit.

Backed by Main Club Partner, Scottish Building Society, the inclusive team is one of seven ‘unified’ teams in Scotland and they recently took up residency at the DAM Health Stadium.

The inclusive side have been preparing for this month’s tri-nations tournament in Worcester, where they will compete against other unified teams from England and Wales.

“The inclusive team now come under the umbrella of Edinburgh Rugby, having come to us earlier this season looking for extra coaching and support,” said Edinburgh Rugby Community Coach, Andrew Whitelaw.

“We’ve absolutely loved working with the team and they’ve been amazing to coach. Essentially, it’s about taking players with disabilities and giving them the opportunity to play rugby at a really competitive level.

“Some of the players have physical disabilities, while others are able bodied. Those that are able bodied are able to guide those disabled players both on and off the pitch, and that’s what makes the team so special.”

Following weeks of training, the inclusive side had their first ‘hit out’ earlier this month where they faced the Borders Clan at the home of Hawick RFC, Mansfield Park.

The hosts eventually claimed a 26-22 victory, with the match serving as the perfect warm-up for this month’s tri-nations tournament as both sides showcased a desire to play free flowing rugby.

“I think the overall experience for the team has been brilliant and the rugby has got better and better each week,” continued Whitelaw.

“The team originally trained at Raeburn Place, but we’ve been able to bring them into DAM Health Stadium for sessions. To see the smiles on the guy’s faces when they walked into the ground for the first time was just amazing to see. It just shows how much a programme like this means to them.

“The support for the team has been massive. Scottish Building Society have backed this initiative from the get-go and they’ve provided the guys with properly branded kit which they wore for the first time against Borders Clan, and will again wear down in Worcester.

“With the continued support of Scottish Building Society, we’ll be able to properly develop and grow the programme to the point where we’ll be entering competitions throughout the season, and welcoming more and more players to train at DAM Health Stadium.

“We genuinely can’t thank them enough, certainly from a coaching perspective, but also from the players as well.”

Paul Denton, CEO, Scottish Building Society, said: “Scottish Building Society is a mutual so everything we do is focused on giving back and investing in our local communities. As an organisation, we are committed to being inclusive and have shared values with Edinburgh Rugby in ensuring that sport is accessible to all.

“We are proud to support the Edinburgh Rugby inclusive team and it is great to follow their progress as they develop and learn from the experience and knowledge of the community coaches and we wish them every success at tri-nations tournament in Worcester.”

Follow the progress of Edinburgh Rugby’s inclusive programme and keep up to date with the club’s community team at edinburghrugby.org.

Photo credit: Malcolm Grant

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