The Dacia Magic Weekend at Anfield was a proud occasion Leeds Rhinos Foundation, with both our Learning Disability and Physical Disability Rugby League teams taking part in matches at the world famous stadium.
The Learning Disability Rugby League (LDRL) team played their first ever game in front of thousands of rugby league fans on the Sunday and the Physical Disability Rugby (PDRL) team got the opportunity to be part of an exhibition game on the Saturday during half time of the Betfred Super League game between Hull FC and Huddersfield Giants.
PDRL Player-Coach Dan Roberts led out his team against a Warrington Wolves side that included Channel 4’s The Last Leg Presenter Adam Hills. In a competitive game, the Rhinos came away with an 8-0 victory. Lifelong Liverpool fan Chris Young had a day to remember, scoring a spectacular try in front of the Anfield Road End before Tom Pouncey grabbed a second for the Rhinos to secure a memorable win.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE 🙌
Fantastic performance from our PDRL side on the Anfield pitch, with tries scored by Chris Young and Tom Pouncey.
— Rhinos Foundation (@RugbyLeeds) May 25, 2019
Dan Roberts, PDRL Player-Coach, said: “We massively enjoyed the experience. Getting to run out and play on the Anfield turf which is well-renowned and one of the most iconic stadiums in the world is something special. You go in the changing rooms and all the lads are still buzzing about it after the game has finished. It’s memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
“It was great to see all the Rhinos fans behind the dugout cheering us on. Coming off and hearing them sing Marching on Together for us, that’s something I’d never thought I’d get to hear in my rugby career so that was nice to see. It was nice to be able to put in a good performance for them and give them something to cheer.”
On Saturday players from the LDRL team got a pre-match talk from Rhinos players Stevie Ward and Jamie Jones-Buchanan during their training session on Stanley Park. Jones-Buchanan, who is a trustee for Leeds Rhinos Foundation said it was great to see more people being given the opportunity to represent the Rhinos.
After a great day with our PDRL team yesterday, we are delighted to see our LDRL side playing today! @LDSuperLeague @ComIntCare !
Thanks to JJB and @Ste_Ward for calling in to wish the team luck ! pic.twitter.com/Flizn155wy
— Rhinos Foundation (@RugbyLeeds) May 26, 2019
“It was fantastic to get the chance to catch up with the LDRL players before the game,” said Jones-Buchanan. “There was a great atmosphere and excitement amongst players from all teams. The reason I went along to give them my support was because firstly I love Rugby League and I love people that enjoy themselves and play our great game. I wanted to come down and encourage everyone to have fun.
“I want everyone to fulfil their potential and have fun and it’s great to see Rugby League again broadening the boundaries of diversity. I have been at Leeds Rhinos for 22 years and I have seen the Physical Disability team come in and the Women’s team going really strong and now the Learning Disability team.
“I think it’s brilliant, the more people representing the Leeds Rhinos brand the better. It’s my home town and it’s where I grew up and it’s what I find my identity in so whatever we can do for Leeds and to help people to be part of our community hub I’m always happy to give up time to support it.”
Learning Disability Rugby League is a specially adapted non-competitive game, using tags, which focuses on encouraging participation and skills development. The LDRL games at Magic Weekend marked the official launch of the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League.
Ben Berry, Team Manager of Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s LDRL and PDRL teams, said: “To see both our teams play at such a big event was a very proud moment for our charity.
Our aim is to change lives through sport and through these teams we have been able to make our sport more accessible and give people the opportunity to enjoy and compete in the sport they love. I would like to thank all the fans for their support of both teams and Chadwick Lawrence for their kind sponsorship of both teams.”
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