Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Physical Disability Rugby League team enjoyed the chance to showcase their skills at a Super League when Castleford Tigers Foundation hosted the latest Physical Disability Super League Festival of 2022 at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Saturday.
Teams from Warrington, Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, and Wigan as well as the home side Castleford all took to the field to compete against each other across the day in front of a fantastic crowd at Wheldon Road.
A makeshift Rhinos side consisting of just 11 players faced the daunting task of three consecutive fixtures, including a rematch with unbeaten Wakefield and reigning champions Warrington.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Coaches Dan Roberts and Keiran Hickman were left delighted by the effort and fight shown by their side as they opened proceedings with a fantastic 18-0 victory over neighbours Bradford Bulls.
Two tries for Scott Gobin followed a debut score for Mike Alderson, who was playing in his first competitive matches of Rugby League after joining the side two weeks ago.
The side then performed admirably as they took on arguably the competition’s two strongest teams with a threadbare squad, falling to hard-fought defeats against Trinity (10-24) and the Wolves (8-16), with that man Scott Gobin on red hot form adding a further three tries to his personal tally across the two games. Having led from the front all afternoon, Captain Tommy Pouncey rounded off the afternoon with a score of his own against Warrington from close range.
PDRL Team Manager Ed Bates put forward how much of a privilege it was for him and his team to be able to use the facilities and play on the main pitch at Wheldon Road, by saying: “The festivals are all about inclusivity and they are a great environment to provide people with disabilities an opportunity to play rugby league. It’s great to get around the country and its’ brilliant for the players to come down and play at The Jungle.
“You have spectators cheering them on which feels great to watch that happen. It’s brilliant for the lads to compete on a Super League pitch and even rub shoulders with some of the Castleford players earlier. The festival has been really well organised and we really appreciate being able to use all the facilities.”
The next PDRL festival will be hosted by Leeds Rhinos Foundation on Sunday 19th June at Oulton Raiders ARLFC, with more details to follow.