MELKSHAM RFC and Bath Rugby Foundation have teamed up to offer men a new and alternative route into the sport.
The Melksham Mixed Ability team offers new players the chance to learn from Foundation rugby coaches and play alongside experienced players.
Bath Rugby Foundation Delivery Lead, Dan Hine explains, “The team is part of the Foundation’s Project Rugby programme and has already seen players returning to the game having spent years out of it, returning from injury and new to rugby players from its engagement programme in Special Schools.
“Mixed Ability rugby is open to everyone and is suitable (but not limited to) people with Asperger’s, Autism, dyslexia, anxiety, depression, stress, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, players returning from injury, lower abilities, a lack of understanding of the rules – EVERYBODY!
“It is not a disability sport, players are not classified by physical, intellectual or mental disabilities or barriers. It is a sport open to anyone who wants to play regular full-contact rugby. If you happen to have some form of disability or barrier but want to play regular rugby, then in Mixed Ability rugby you are more than welcome.
“The same goes if you have no disability or barrier. Games are played in true rugby spirit.
“Rugby has always been the sport for all sorts – all shapes and sizes, and all abilities. So, there is a spot for the strong, slow, small and fast players on the same team and all are valued for what they can do.
“Mixed Ability rugby just takes the same format as any other rugby team in a club. If you feel you don’t have enough experience, might not be good enough, are new to the game or just want to get back to playing for a bit of regular training and team bonding then a Mixed Ability team is for you.
To truly experience rugby, Mixed Ability must play the same format as a regular rugby team. The only law change is uncontested scrums which you often see in social or veteran matches too and the integration of touch rugby players who might not be comfortable or able to handle contact situations.
“The Bath Rugby Foundation supports multiple Mixed Ability teams across Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset helping to grow our game for all people. The initial programme was launched in 2017 with a new team launched each season. We have been looking to launch a team in Wiltshire for a few seasons and couldn’t be more pleased to be working with Melksham RFC to support them in flying the mixed ability flag for Wiltshire.”
Melksham Mixed Ability Rugby was launched in November 2021 and has regularly seen 20 participants attending each week and are looking forward to their first fixture at home on Friday 4th February against Walcot Warriors (7.30pm Kick Off).
Melksham RFC’s Jez Flower adds, “Rugby has always played a large part in my life. In addition to the positive physical and mental benefits of the game, the sense of belonging and family ethos that comes with being part of a community rugby club – you cannot put a price on it
“I have championed mixed ability rugby for a few years now, but due to other life commitments I couldn’t fully commit to it. So when Dan from Bath Rugby Foundation contacted me, I knew it was something that we could facilitate at Melksham.
“We are now 6 weeks into the programme and it is going from strength to strength. Mixed ability is actually what it says on the tin, we have guys that have never picked a ball up, junior coaches, ex-players, young players that are looking to progress into our regular senior sides, even some old committee members are dusting there boots off. It really is a game for all!
“Playing alongside SEND (special educational needs and disability) players is such a joyful experience, I also believe it lowers the barriers with connecting with others with learning disabilities.
“We offer free teas and coffees for support workers/carers – our club house is elevated and glass fronted so players can be watched at all times. Community inclusion is something we take very seriously at Melksham Rugby Club, so to be able to offer mixed ability rugby to every section of our community makes me very proud to wear the badge.”
Training is Monday nights, 7pm until 8pm, at Melksham Rugby Club. For more information, search for ‘Melksham Mixed Ability Rugby’ on Facebook or call Jez on 07552 160647