Team will make rugby even more inclusive for all

Karen Mitchell and daughter Liana are both keen rugby players, and now Karen is keen to help the sport develop even further.
Karen Mitchell and daughter Liana are both keen rugby players, and now Karen is keen to help the sport develop even further.

A new rugby side with an all inclusive ethos is set to kick off in north east Fife.

Across Scotland, the SRU is doing everything it can to help young players with disabilities to get involved with the game.

Named ‘Unified rugby’, players with and without mild learning or physical disabilities train and play rugby together, using a set of modified rules which restrict the form of tackling permitted on some players.

Coloured scrum caps allow players who are not participating in full contact rugby to be identified clearly.

The sides are known as ‘clans’, and, currently, there are clans Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ayr, with new clans starting up soon in the Borders and Aberdeen.

Fife is set to get in on the clan act too, with the Howe of Fife giving its backing to the creation of a unified side.

Karen Mitchell, who plays with the Howe women’s side, as well as working as part of the inclusions team at Fife College, is one of those helping its launch.

She explained: “I have been lucky in having a very supportive club support my plans to further develop the introduction of inclusive rugby at Howe of Fife Rugby Club, and indeed in Fife in general.

“Based on my background, I began researching how we could encourage players with disabilities to join in the game. I found the SRU was already working hard to support clubs to be as inclusive as possible in the publication and monitoring of its Equality Action Plan.

“Although there are a few variations of mixed ability around the world, I found Trust Rugby International (TRI) who have introduced the concept of unified rugby in Scotland.

“The Edinburgh Clan played the Howe Knights at Murrayfield last season and so the Knights hosted them in the return leg a few months back.

“Both teams embraced the game and the ethos of inclusive unified rugby and it was then I knew we had to make the opportunity to play open to more players in Fife.”

After securing the full backing of the trustees of Howe of Fife RFC and the Howe Knights, who will be training with and hopefully playing with the Fife Clan, Karen contacted Jamie Armstrong from TRI.

After a few discussions over the telephone, the two have arranged for TRI to visit Duffus Park on March 25 to deliver an introduction to unified rugby to coaches in the morning (from 10am-1pm) before they will hold a taster session for prospective players in the afternoon between 2pm-4pm.

Karen added: “If you know of anyone with a mild learning or physical disability who would like to come along to the taster training session, please encourage them to do so at 2pm on March 25 at Duffus Park.

“Please wear comfortable sports clothing and trainers or football or rugby boots.”