McCaw, Sydney Uni unite to highlight Wheelchair Rugby’s ability to show sport’s ‘true value’

Tue, Nov 28, 2023, 11:15 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Richie McCaw taking part in Wheelchair Rugby with Sydney Uni. Photo: Sydney Uni/Kirsty Stevens
Richie McCaw taking part in Wheelchair Rugby with Sydney Uni. Photo: Sydney Uni/Kirsty Stevens

The sight of Richie McCaw in the famous Sydney Uni blue and gold stripes would bring nightmares to any Shute Shield player or coach.

However, it was for a special occasion as part of a Wheelchair Rugby demonstration, with McCaw an ambassador for ISPS Handa, who is a partner with the club along with Wheelchair Rugby Australia.

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"You want to make Rugby accessible for everyone, no matter who you are. It's about inclusion," McCaw told Rugby.com.au

"Whether you're physically able or you have the challenge these guys have, you can get stuck in like that with a team and have the goal of performing together, that's what it is all about and that is what sport is about.

"To see them getting stuck in like that is amazing. I take my hat off to what Sydney Uni has done, they made sure that Rugby is a game for all."

The event was supported by the All Blacks legend along with former Irish PM Enda Kenna to highlight the inclusiveness of the sport in connection with the oldest Rugby club outside of Britain.

“We always live this adage of rugby is a sport for all abilities and in terms of the female game, we're increasing our numbers there, but also, all abilities and wheelchair rugby team fit in perfectly with what we live as our values as a club,” Sydney Uni Rugby General Manager and former Wallaby Nathan Charles said to Rugby.com.au.

“We’re grateful to have them a part of our club moving forward and we really want to grow that further."

Richie McCaw with the famous Sydney Uni seven jersey alongside Tony Sukkar, Nathan Charles and David Lyons

The most successful Shute Shield club and the three-time World Rugby Player of the Year provided the perfect mix to showcase the power of Wheelchair Rugby.

McCaw took part in the demonstration alongside the Uni Wheelchair Rugby side and their Colts team, which included several players from the U19 NSW Waratahs side.

The action was full of explosive collisions and silky skills, with McCaw even crossing the line late for a score.

"It's awesome," McCaw said on the game.

"I've tried it once before and it's almost more violent than the Rugby I used to play, they don't mind smacking into each other.

"It's great to see the competitive spirit and everyone getting stuck in, it's awesome."

Sydney Uni is the first club in Sydney to align itself with a team in the Wheelchair Rugby National League and given Uni’s track record with producing Wallabies and Wallaroos, it comes as no surprise that Australian Paralympic legends Ryley Batt and Andrew Edmondson spearhead the side.

Richie McCaw taking part in a Wheelchair Rugby game

The club is one of two alongside Tuggeranong Vikings to have a Wheelchair Rugby team, Modified Rugby Program and Men’s and Women’s Rugby as they look to show that Rugby is a game for all.

“It’s about providing a home for people for all types,” Charles explained. “Rugby is a sport from 1-15 with all shapes and sizes and there’s no reason why people with all abilities can’t play the game as well.

“For us, it’s about growing the game and showing the true value of what Rugby is

“This is what community sports are about. It’s about providing opportunities and it’s great to see the smiles on people’s faces. Today is a great example of having some of our younger colts involved with some of the wheelchair Rugby team and gives them a different exposure of how great Rugby is and to meet people.”

"Our club is one of the oldest in Australia and had so many famous Wallabies and everyone wear the jersey but the fact that Rugby is a sport for everyone and there's a Wheelchair version, we thought really fits in with what we do," fellow former Wallaby and Uni Rugby President David Lyons added.

"Sport can inspire and connect people all around the world and Rugby is at the forefront of that and is a game people of all shapes, sizes and abilities can find a place in.

"That connection that Rugby brings is something our club has always been committed to and something Dr Handa and ISPS Handa Foundation have been committed to."

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