Young people will form a six-day scrum in Kilmarnock next week to explore how the sport of rugby can bring together diverse individuals, communities and cultures. The overarching theme of the event is 'tackling limiting assumptions', those held by individuals about what they can achieve personally and those held by people who assume individuals with learning difficulties cannot play rugby or be part of a team.
With the aim of supporting the personal development of young people through participation in rugby, Trust Rugby International (tri) has teamed up with ENABLE Scotland, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Kilmarnock Rugby Union and Scottish Rugby to afford members the opportunity to experience one of the country's most cherished and internationally-supported sports.
A series of events are aimed at giving young people aged over 16 a taster of a new sport and a new passion under the Unified Rugby banner.
The Festival kicks off on Monday (June 16) with a rugby taster day for primary schools, followed by a similar event on Tuesday for secondary school pupils. Youngsters from across Ayrshire from mainstream schools will play and learn alongside those with additional support needs. tri's specially designed training programme addresses each individual's needs to encourage anticipation.
On Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 June, tri will offer a coach education programme for all players, coaches and volunteers from The Clan - Scotland's unified rugby team - and is part of the commitment to enhance the personal development of all members.
On Friday 20 June, tri will present a Rugby 7s course for members who are interested in developing work with people with learning disabilities. The seven-a-side version of rugby union gives players more space to express themselves, to learn about play patterns and teamwork, to improve ball skills, and is particularly suitable for players with a learning disability. tri and The Clan will also welcome visiting unified rugby teams from England and Wales; The Bradford Bumble Bees and the Llanelli Warriors. All three teams will then compete on Saturday 21 June, with the winning team being presented with the tri-Unions Cup at a special family day within and around the grounds of Kilmarnock Rugby Club.
Jamie Armstrong, Director of Development, Trust Rugby International said: "It really is amazing how quickly a year goes….and the difference it can make. This time last year tri's The Clan hadn't played a single game of rugby and now we are heading toward our 12th and 13th game on 21 June at the tri Unions Cup with our international cousins the Llanelli Warriors and the Bradford Bumble Bees!
"All year we have focussed on our mission of 'tackling limiting assumptions', and now with our new partnership with Enable Scotland as well as our tried, tested and trusted partnership with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Scottish Government and the encouragement of Scottish Rugby we are able to fully demonstrate the potential for unified rugby in Scotland. Onwards and onwards we go…just picking up the ball and running with it!”
This year will also see the inaugural presentation of the Enable-ing Cup presented to the team who have demonstrated most support to not just their own but their oppositions' team members.
Peter Scott, CEO ENABLE Scotland said: "Trust Rugby brings people together who have a shared interest and passion for the sport. As well as the health benefits of taking part in rugby, the Trust Rugby model unites people in a way that leads to many friendships being formed. Skills learned through this sport, particularly communication and teamwork, can be transferred to other walks of life such as employment.
"Initiatives such as Trust Rugby International go a long way towards tackling this, as well as other challenges such as isolation and confidence among people with disabilities. We are privileged to be a part of this exciting and engaging festival, which promises to open up a new opportunity for fitness and social opportunities for our young members. Thanks to each of the partner organisations who have made this happen.”
Dr Helen Lynn, Clinical Director. Learning Disability Service, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: "I have witnessed lives being transformed through the game of rugby both on and off the pitch."
Neil Carrie, Partnership Projects Manager, Scottish Rugby said: "We would like to wish The Clan the best of luck for their upcoming event, and congratulate them as players and as a team for the progress they have made. I would also like to congratulate tri Rugby on their success in establishing unified rugby, and we look forward to supporting this excellent programme moving forward."
All events will be held at Kilmarnock Rugby Club, Queen's Drive, Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire KA1 3XF
Monday 16 June, 10am – 2pm, Rugby Taster Day for Primary Schools
Tuesday 17 June, 10am – 2pm, Rugby Taster Day for Secondary Schools
Wednesday 18 June, 10am – 5pm, Coach Education Programme for The Clan
Thursday 19 June, 10am – 5pm, Coach Education Programme for The Clan
Friday 20 June, 6.30pm – 9.30pm, Rugby 7s Course
Saturday 21 June, 12pm – Kick-off Tri Unions Cup; 4pm – Presentations of Awards
TRUST RUGBY INTERNATIONAL
Trust Rugby International (tri) is a Scottish Registered Charity, whose aim is to bring diverse individuals, communities and cultures together through the medium of unified rugby, where people who have learning disabilities play alongside players who do not have a disability, promoting and encouraging an appreciation of equality, diversity and social integration. Back in 2012, NHS Ayrshire & Arran commissioned tri to deliver a series of rugby sevens taster sessions, aimed at people aged 16+ with a learning disability, their families, carers and care support workers. After the first taster session and everyone engaging with the tri philosophy, The Clan were formed and the team has gone from strength to strength. Now playing and winning regular fixtures with rugby teams across the country, they have also visited Ulster and Wales and have an invitation to play in France later this year. The Clan were recently awarded Ayrshire Sportsability's Activity in the Community Award.
Scotland's charity for children and adults who have learning disabilities and their families.