The Welsh Rugby Union has received the ‘insport NGB (National Governing Body) Gold award’ from Disability Sport Wales – becoming the first governing body in Wales to be recognised for reaching the highest possible standards for its work on inclusion and disability specific provision throughout the country.
Since publishing its first Disability Rugby Strategy in 2017 the WRU quickly achieved the bronze followed by the silver insport standards and, whilst working towards the gold award, was voted as the insport Organisation of the Year by Disability Sport Wales in April 2021.
Now the WRU’s Rugby Enterprise department, which is lead by Greg Woods and includes the likes of Darren Carew, working alongside community director Geraint John has achieved its ultimate goal, reaching the gold standard for its development and provision of a range of inclusive formats of the game throughout Welsh rugby.
“We are extremely proud of the progress our staff, volunteers and the whole of Welsh community rugby has made in becoming more inclusive,” said John, speaking at the Urdd WRU 7s competition, Wales’ biggest school rugby tournament which now includes an inclusion festival.
“It’s vital there is a place for everyone in Welsh rugby and we work hard to ensure that this is the case.
“The Gold award is recognition of this hard work but it is not a signal to sit back and admire our handy work, we will continue to evolve as we strive to be as inclusive as possible at all times throughout the game.” Chairman Rob Butcher, who was on hand at the Urdd WRU 7s competition to receive the award on behalf of the WRU, also expressed his pride in the hard work that has gone into achieving this latest accolade for Welsh rugby. “These awards are not handed out lightly and the gold standard is testament to the hard work and dedication of a whole range of WRU staff as well as volunteers throughout the community game up and down the country,” said Butcher.
“We talk about there being a ‘jersey for all’ in Welsh rugby and these are not just empty words, but a central part of our vision for the future of our great game.
“Inclusion is a vital part of the WRU’s central mission and this recognition from Disability Sport Wales, that we have achieved the very highest of standards in this area, is very welcome indeed.” There are inclusive community clubs for young people throughout Wales along with mixed ability teams for adults in every rugby region and more wheelchair rugby and Walking Rugby teams than ever before. The WRU also works closely with key partners including Wales Deaf Rugby Union, Disability Sport Wales, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the four regions and their excellent foundations to continue to make rugby a game for everyone and is continually looking to widen the range of opportunities even further, in areas such as Visually Impaired rugby.
“There is a common perception that rugby is about fifteen adults in a park at half past two on a Saturday afternoon but it’s much more than that,” said WRU rugby enterprise manager Woods.
“It’s around making it a game for everyone. We have a saying that there’s a jersey for everyone and we have lived up to that mantra, despite the fact that sometimes it’s hard to do. “We have increased our range of formats of the game and increase the level of support and guidance that we give to our coaches and volunteers to make that happen and the gold standard award is recognition that we have been getting it right.
” The insport concept is a Disability Sport Wales project delivered with the support of Sport Wales, which aims to support the physical activity, sport, and leisure sectors delivering inclusively of disabled people. The insport NGB programme is part of the broader insport project, which aims to support the physical activity, sport, and leisure sectors delivering inclusively of disabled people.
“Having worked closely with the WRU over the past five years, I’ve seen first-hand the motivation and commitment to the development of inclusive and disability specific provision across the organisation and their partners,” said Tom Rogers, Partnership Manager, Disability Sport Wales.
“There is a genuine approach within the WRU to ‘get it right’ with a clear commitment for continued development of areas of best inclusive practice.
“In successfully achieving the insport NGB Gold award, the WRU has positively identified the commitment of the organisation to inclusion and, as a result, has raised the expectation within communities of disabled people interested in rugby and looking to play, coach, and volunteer across all forms of the game in Wales.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union as they continue to lead, support and grow the number of opportunities for disabled people across Wales.”
Fiona Reid, Chief Executive Officer, Disability Sport Wales, added: “The WRU’s achievement of insport NGB Gold is incredibly significant and reflects the great work, shared passion and a genuine determination to ensure that rugby is an opportunity for all disabled people in Wales.
“Achievement of the Gold standard means that an inclusive approach to communities of disabled people is embedded within WRU strategies and programmes, commitments and thinking; it doesn’t mean there is nothing else to do to make rugby accessible to anyone with an impairment, but it does mean that as an organisation they are proactive, supportive and consider disabled people as a core part of the WRU family.”