Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Changing Lives Through Sport

Barrie McDermott
McDermott gives backing to new Leeds Rhinos Foundation Physical Disability RL side
1 December 2017, 2:47
By Leanne Flynn
Leeds Rhinos Foundation is once again making Rugby League accessible to all parts of the community with the launch of their first Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) side in 2018 and the initiative has been given the support from Rhinos legend, Barrie McDermott.
The new team will be run by Leeds Rhinos' official charity, Leeds Rhinos Foundation, who will be hosting an information evening on 11th December followed by taster sessions in January for anyone interested in representing the Rhinos PDRL team.

McDermott, who won every available honour as a Leeds Rhinos player, said he is thrilled to be an Ambassador for this initiative.

"I am honoured and privileged to get involved in this project," McDermott said. "On 5th December 1987 I had a date with destiny when I lost an eye, aged 15. I was fortunate that I had good people around me to give me support and confidence and in particular, this came from my rugby mates. Through rugby I found the place where I should be and found strength to overcome adversity and rugby was a motivating factor for me. I am passionate about being involved in this project and hope that I am able to provide motivation to people achieving what they may have thought was not possible.

"Rugby League is an inclusive sport and this initiative is another great step in making it accessible for everyone."

In Australia, Physical Disability Rugby League has been a huge success after the NSW Physical Disability Rugby League was set up in 2010 by George Tonna, a former Australian Paralympian football player. Starting with just two teams, the Association has grown from two teams to four and now hosts an annual Premiership season.

Leeds Rhinos are hoping to replicate this model, alongside Warrington Wolves, who launched their PDRL side last month with the backing of Channel 4's Last Leg presenter, Adam Hills. The two teams plan to compete in three games over the 2018 season and the long-term vision is to expand the competition to include more teams.

McDermott added: "It is fantastic that Adam Hills has given his support for this as an Ambassador for the Warrington team. Adam is a big Rugby League fan, I know his team in Australia is Souths, and it was good to see him pull on the shirt for the Wolves at the launch of the PDRL team. We hope that his Last Leg co-host Alex Brooker, who is a Rhinos fan, will take on the challenge and represent the Rhinos!"

Each squad will consist of thirteen players with each team permitted nine players on the field at any one time. The nine players on each team will consist of seven players with a physical disability and two able bodied adult players who do not have physical disabilities.

Chris Godfrey, Disability Programme Coordinator for Leeds Rhinos Foundation said: "We are excited to launch a new team into the Leeds Rhinos family. We already have a successful Wheelchair Rugby League side and recently launched a Women's team and to have the backing for a new Physical Disability side is fantastic and shows our commitment to making Rugby League inclusive and accessible for everyone.

"Since 2010 PDRL in Australia has grown massively and is now in its seventh season, with players whose disabilities include cerebral palsy, acquired brain injuries and muscular atrophy. We hope the creation of this new Rhinos team will inspire people to get involved. The sessions will be a skills/training carousel assessing, introducing and aiding participants in the core skills of Rugby League for any level, beginners to experts, so anyone aged over 16 with a physical disability is welcome to come along and give it a try."

Anyone interested in being part of the Rhinos PDRL side are invited to attend an event in the Phoenix Bar at John Charles Centre for Sport on Monday 11th December from 7pm. Open Trial and training sessions will run on Saturday 13th and Saturday 27th January between 10am and 12noon and Leeds Rugby Academy, Kirkstall.
For more information email chris.godfrey@leedsrhinosfoundation.org
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