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The preparations to host the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament (IMART) in Ireland in June next year have commenced. This will be the 3rd edition of the worldwide Mixed Ability rugby showcase promoted by International Mixed Ability Sports (IMAS), which will take place in Cork between the 7th and 12th of June 2020.
750 players with and without disabilities, from 24 teams and 12 different countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Argentina and New Zealand will come together to play rugby under same World Rugby laws as the XV a side game with only minor adaptations such as uncontested scrums.
5 years ago two men (Alan Craughwell and Liam Maher) came together, after a chance meeting, to form the first mixed ability rugby team in Ireland – the Sundays Well Rebels.
On the back of this they have accomplished great things:
- The Sundays Well Rebels won the first ever International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament (IMART) Rugby World Cup held in 2015
- They pitched for & won the chance to host the next IMART Rugby World Cup which is coming to Cork in June 2020
- The fought for recognition from Ireland’s national rugby body, the IRFU – which they were recently granted
- The no. of mixed ability teams in Ireland has grown
The Mixed Ability Model encourages social inclusion by removing barriers to participation for people who feel unable to join mainstream grassroots clubs or groups due to physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues, size, shape, age, prolonged inactivity, or a perception of ‘not being good enough’.
Alan Craughwell, founder of the first Mixed Ability rugby team in Ireland, ‘Sunday’s Well Rebels’, and Day Service Manager with Cope Foundation
“Mixed Ability rugby and Mixed Ability sports are providing real opportunities for people with and without disabilities to experience social inclusion. Working with people with disabilities, I know how important social inclusion is and how detrimental any exclusion and loneliness can be to someone’s wellbeing. In addition to this the IMART ethos is beneficial to all involved – it’s inspiring to see the lads learn so much about each other when level the playing field. These guys just see themselves as one team and you can’t buy that!”
Liam Maher, Manager of the Sunday’s Well Rebels
“Since I first spoke to Alan about mixed ability rugby my life has genuinely not been the same. I don’t have any first-hand experience with disability affecting myself or my family, so it’s not something I ever really considered. But my involvement with the Rebels has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
Peter O’Mahony, Munster Rugby Captain
“I’m proud to support the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament coming to Ireland for the first time. Mixed Ability gives everybody the opportunity to be a rugby player regardless of size, shape or ability. This is an incredible opportunity to celebrate our core values, welcoming teams from around the world to experience our legendary Irish hospitality!”
It is hoped that the IMART Tournament in Cork next year will enhance interest, participation and interaction of people of all abilities in the sport across Ireland and beyond, and help to build new connections between grassroots clubs, educational institutions, communities and local authorities.
Liam Maher, Manager of the Sunday’s Well Rebels, spoke of their plans to showcase all that Cork has to offer to the 750 strong participants, as well as organisers and spectators who will flock to the event.
“We have worked tirelessly with the IRFU, Munster Rugby, Cork City Council, IMAS, and others in an effort to bring this event to Cork. There has been a lot of work in the background – not just in preparing the bid for this global tournament, but in getting recognised for IMART as an official rugby sport. We have been in talks with the IRFU since the Rebels were set up in 2014, and thankfully we have recently received much-deserved recognition for this forward-thinking, inclusive and inspiring sport.
We’re exceptionally proud that Cork has been chosen to host IMART 2020. The tournament will bring together some of the finest Mixed Ability rugby teams in the world and will attract in the region of 750 international participants for the week-long competition. Cork won the bid in part due to Ireland’s international reputation as a rugby power-house, but also because we have reputation in Mixed Ability sport. Mixed Ability is about valuing everyone’s potential and celebrating what’s at the heart of true sport – participation, passion and fun!”