Leeds Rhinos LDSL team excited for Magic Weekend experience

It’s going to be a magic weekend for Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Learning Disability team as they prepare to take to the field at St James’ Park this Saturday in front of thousands of rugby league fans.

Rhinos will join eight other clubs from the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League playing in a series of small-sided games in Newcastle’s Leazes Park, and then during half time of the highly anticipated Betfred Super League clash between St Helens and Wigan Warriors.

Fans attending Magic Weekend will have the privilege of watching and supporting a truly inspirational adapted version of the sport, which last featured at Magic Weekend in 2019 when players were given the unique opportunity to grace the hallowed turf at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium.

In the three years since, the Learning Disability Super League has received immense national attention and numerous prestigious awards, including being named as the ‘Best Innovation’ at the Great British Care Awards. There have also been many unforgettable experiences for members of the Rhinos LDSL team, including opportunities to work at the Women’s Super League Grand Final, play on the Headingley Stadium pitch and volunteer through the RLWC2021 Inclusive Volunteering programme.

Our LDSL players have been looking forward to this opportunity since the start of the season, and Rhinos co-captain Declan Jenkinson says it will be an incredible experience to feature in this weekend’s event.

“We’re really looking forward to going back to Magic Weekend and getting a different experience by playing at Newcastle this time,” said Declan.

“It’s amazing that the RFL and Super League are helping to promote inclusion and diversity by having our Learning Disability team as part of the event and we are really thankful that we have the opportunity to share the same pitch as the Leeds Rhinos first team on Saturday.”

“Being able to play at Magic Weekend shows that us Learning Disability Super League players do belong on that pitch and we’re just as passionate about playing the game as anyone else.

“Our team is one big family and it’s great to share these moments together. Having the fans cheering us on from all the different teams was really special last time, and although I’m still going to be a little bit nervous before we go on, once I hear them supporting us I’ll enjoy every moment.

This year has seen the Rhinos LDSL side continue growing in numbers and the Foundation will be taking around a dozen players up to the North East on Saturday for the showpiece event, something which Oliver Sutton- who also plays for the team- says he can’t wait to experience for the first time.

Oliver said: “It’s exciting for me personally because I’ve never been to St James Park before and I never thought I’d have the chance to play on the pitch there.

“I think it’s really special for the Learning Disability Super League to be part of Magic Weekend because it’s a unique experience, especially playing in front of so many fans because for people with learning disabilities to hear them all cheering you on this is such an incredible feeling.

“For those of us who haven’t played at Magic Weekend before it’s a huge deal and hopefully we can show everyone who watches our games at the stadium or on Sky Sports what we can do.”

Super League marketing manager, Katy Graham added, “We are delighted to host Learning Disability Super League at Magic Weekend once again. Watching participants run out at Anfield in 2019 was both heart-warming and inspiring in equal measures.”

Good luck to all the Leeds Rhinos LDSL players taking part in this weekend’s matches and please give them a big cheer if you’re at St James Park on Saturday!

LDSL Timings and Teams

Saturday 9th July:

Teams: Wakefield Trinity, St Helens, Wigan Warriors, Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers, Widnes Vikings, Leigh Centurions, Barrow Raiders, & Sheffield Eagles.

Pre-Match Festival: 12pm-2pm

Half-Time Games: 5.30pm (St Helens vs Wigan Warriors Betfred Super League fixture)

Sunday 10th July:

Teams: Salford Red Devils, Warrington Wolves, Hull Kingston Rovers, Hull FC, Featherstone Rovers, Newcastle Thunder, & Halifax Panthers.

Pre-Match Festival- 11:30am-1:30pm

Half-Time Game: 4.00pm (Catalans Dragons vs Warrington Wolves Betfred Super League fixture)

The Partnership

Community Integrated Care is one of Britain’s biggest and most successful social care charities, supporting over 3500 people who have learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns and dementia across England and Scotland. The charity has developed several pioneering sports and social care programmes with Rugby League clubs that have been recognised at the National Dementia Care Awards, 3rd Sector Care Awards and the Great British Care Awards.

As the Official Social Care Partner of Super League, the RFL and Rugby League World Cup 2021, the charity is leading the development of a range of programmes that will use Rugby League to transform the lives of people who require care and support.

Click the link to purchase your Magic Weekend 2022 tickets – https://www.eticketing.co.uk/rugbyleague/EDP/Event/Index/74