Mixed Ability Rugby festival in Kilmarnock a triumph

Mixed Ability Rugby festival in Kilmarnock a triumph

A celebration of rugby for everyone took place recently at the annual Mixed Ability Rugby festival, held at Kilmarnock Rugby Football Club.

Mixed ability rugby is an inclusive approach to the game, ensuring participation that engages everyone, no matter their age, ability or experience level. It means barriers participation are removed and a supportive and welcoming environment is created.

Hosted by 2023 winners of the Spirit of Rugby Award, Brian and Senga Johnston and the Ayrshire Clan, the short-form tournament was well attended, with families and friends flocking to the stands to cheer on both home and away teams.

This year’s festival saw five competing teams – Ayrshire Clan, Borders Clan, Strathmore, Edinburgh, and the Kilmarnock Polar Bears – and winners’ medals presented by the Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health, Jenni Minto, to all players on the day.

Kilmarnock RFC president Ivor Frater says he is proud that the club has now been involved in mixed ability rugby for over 10 years.

“Kilmarnock’s been involved since the very start of unified (mixed ability) rugby in Scotland. We started with training here in 2012 and have always supported the idea that anyone who wants to play a game of rugby should be able to do so.

“It has got a universal appeal. If you love rugby, you’ve got to love this because to me, this is what rugby is all about,” Ivor said.

Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health Jenni Minto attended the festival and was “amazed” by the camaraderie and sportsmanship on display.

“What I’m finding fascinating is how the players all interact with each other, and the indication as to their level of their ability to be tackled or not, with the red hats or yellow hats.

“And then the assistance as well that some players require as well from more able-bodies people. But I also think it’s great to see people working and playing together. It’s the teamwork and the support that each of the players get.”

“There’s a great amount of pride as well from the families watching from the stand – getting involved, cheering on their teams, cheering on the opposition too.”

Coach for the Ayrshire Clan Stephen Main said it was great to see five teams turn out to play in the festival.

“It was really good fun, it’s always fun to play against other teams. We play against other teams quite regularly and we have a good laugh.

“But it’s always competitive as well, so it’s really, really fun. As much as we say, ‘it’s just a little tackle’, there’s always another big tackle that goes in too. And it’s all done properly and safely, so that we can have a good time with each other.”

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