DISABILITY NO BARRIER TO RUGBY LEAGUE
By Bruce Cross PDRLNZ Board Member
Physical Disability Rugby League continues to grow. The Vodafone Warriors and I put up a trophy, and last November, Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand, hosted an inaugural International tournament – the Auckland PDRL Nines.
The tournament involved the Tigers, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Manly, as well as New Zealand, playing as the Vodafone Warriors PDRL, and who went on to win the final 6-0 over the Tigers.
PDRLNZ ambassador James Gavet was on hand to present the trophy.
The game is a modified version of league for players with a physical disability who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play. It does not shy away from the impact, collision and physicality of league, but has full contact, partial contact and touch elements, so that it caters for a wide spectrum of impairments, including amputees, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders, limb deficiencies and acquired brain injuries. The rules allow two able bodied players a team, and provide for both male and female players.
In New Zealand, initial efforts to form a team date back to 2014. But PDRL can genuinely lay claim to being Australian. It was started back in 2010 and has the support of the NRL and its clubs.
Following on from its initial success, PDRLNZ continued to create history in February, sending a team to the 2018 Commonwealth Championships in Brisbane, with the New Zealand squad playing a world first PDRL international Tri-test series against Australia and the Commonwealth All Stars. The Commonwealth Championships was an amazing experience with players from Auckland, Christchurch, Rotorua, Taupo and New South Wales all earning the right wear the New Zealand jersey.
But it’s not just on the field where PDRLNZ is leaving its mark. Founder Sandra Hickey says many players doubt they can play league. “But we are proud to say PDRLNZ is having a radical impact on the physically disabled community, inspiring many players to not only grow physically, but also boosting their mental health, self-confidence and social
interaction along the way.”
Having strengthened its Board, further support from within league is seen as critical. The passing of Masters founder Phil Campbell has left a hole for PDRLNZ to fill, and it is trying to identify someone as a top priority.
PDRLNZ’s main goals are to find more players, start a local competition, and find more league connections to help it network and grow the game.
Corporate sponsorship and support to ensure it can field a team at the inaugural PDRL Emerging Nations World Championships in Sydney in October is also paramount.
The Vodafone Warriors continue their support by hosting an upcoming “Have a go” day at Mt Smart on 16 June from 10.30am to 12 noon. Those interested, especially those with a physical disability, are encouraged to come along and meet the NZ PDRL squad, and have a go.
The trophy won by the Vodafone Warriors PDRL team will be on display.
You can register at COMMUNITY@WARRIORS.KIWI.