Bedford Tigers to host first ever wheelchair rugby league match

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Ireland star, Rick Rodgers has been named captain of the brand new side Image: Rick Rodgers / Facebook

Following a successful launch in the summer, Bedford Tigers take their new venture into wheelchair rugby league one step further this weekend as they host Sheffield Eagles at the University of Bedfordshire on Saturday.

Fortnightly training sessions and a larger than expected turnout have all lead to Saturday 2nd December, where Bedford Tigers will field their first ever wheelchair rugby league side in a sporting first for the town.

Saturday’s historic fixture is just a friendly, although the sport of wheelchair rugby league can sometimes be anything but with a physical encounter expected against an established side in Sheffield Eagles.

Rob Ashton of Bedford Tigers has been leading on the arrangements for Saturday and hopes the town can get behind them in their new venture.

“Saturday’s fixture is essentially a way to consolidate what we have been building towards. We will put a couple more friendlies in place for the new year too and intend to join the competitive league structure in the summer.

“The first session attracted a good number which has grown since. We probably have around 16 players now, including 4 players who featured in last year’s Rugby League World Cup for Ireland and Scotland.

“The University have also been extremely accommodating and interested in what we are doing, and we now have a regular training slot every other Sunday with more and more interest every time.”

Anyone can play

Rob describes wheelchair rugby as, “the most inclusive sport going”, as each team of five can also include two non-disabled players with fathers and daughters also playing on the same team.

“There are few other sports where that would be possible!”, exclaims Rob and while wheelchair rugby has been growing since the BBC’s coverage of the home World Cup where England won their second world title, defeating France on home soil, Bedford Tigers have certainly capitalised.

The Bedford campus of the University of Bedfordshire is playing host to the fixture along with an array of entertainment on top with a live DJ, stadium announcer and the World Cup trophy in attendance as well as a half-time challenge for the crowd to get involved in.

Bedford Tigers are asking for a suggested donation of £5 per entry as well as “Kids for a Quid” on the door in order to help with the team’s funding of new chairs as well as manage the logistical challenges of running a wheelchair rugby league team

Kick off time is at 2pm in the Arena Sports Hall at University of Bedfordshire on Polhill Avenue and the event is pay on the door.