The third Mixed Ability Rugby World Cup is coming to Ireland in June 2020 and fundraising efforts are underway throughout the country to ensure that funding targets are met, to enable the release of an additional €500,000 in backing in the form of EU grants.

The EU Erasmus+ for Sport fund have committed to giving the project half a million Euro if the same amount can be raised by the IMART 2020 Project team.

To date sponsorship has been secured to the value of €200k.  Recent months have seen companies such as Permanent TSB (Headline Sponsor), KPMG, Musgrave Group, Heineken, Irish Distillers, Dell EMC, O Flynn Exhams and Cork Airport have come on board to support the event.  With a gap of €300k the team continue to look to corporate entities, Government, sporting organisations and local communities to help reach the sponsorship goal that will release the balance of EU grant funds.

The IMART 2020 tournament will be officially launched at 10.30am today at the Lord Mayor’s Chambers, Cork City Hall.

The World Cup in Ireland

IMART 2020 will see up to 1,000 players together with national coaching teams and supporters from 14 countries travel to Cork from the 6th of June, and organisers are working hard to secure the necessary funding to provide food, accommodation, insurances, catering and logistics for players.

The winning bid to host the world tournament in Ireland this Summer, was secured by the Sundays Well Rebels – the team behind Ireland’s first ever mixed ability rugby team and responsible for winning the opportunity to host the event in Ireland.

Alan Craughwell co-founder of the first Mixed Ability rugby team in Ireland, ‘Sunday’s Well Rebels’, and Day Service Manager with Cope Foundation, said,

The hosting of this World Cup event will be the culmination of years of effort and the unstinting determination of a unique group of people who witnessed first-hand how the power of sport can change the lives of individuals. The fact that participants are challenged by varying levels of disabilities comes secondary to the strength of their competitive spirit. A shared desire to push themselves, the instinct to participate and to strive to win and to be a part of a team, has, since the sport’s formation been wholly compelling. Players motivate and lift each other up and push on because they’re all in it together and the game matters.   

This is serious sport, its competitive, the referee decisions will count.  It will be high intensity for supporters from home and away and will be broadcast in 14 countries covered by domestic and international media teams. It is a World Cup in name and nature and will offer Ireland and Cork an opportunity to showcase world-class venue, event, tourism and visitor facilities.  Its economic impact is set to generate over €3million for the Cork economy during the period”.

Sunday’s Well Rebels say the sheer scale of the event is unlike anything the region has seen in many years. 250 volunteers will be needed, with 28 teams to play, from 14 countries, including Argentina, New Zealand, Ecuador, Italy, Spain, UK, etc. Four women’s teams will also take part in the tournament for the first time – including the first ever women’s team which was set up in Ballincollig in Cork in 2019. A full plane load of players and supporters is expected from Argentina alone.

Mixed Ability Week 20

Mixed Ability Week 20 which will be happening from the 7th of June to 12th of June will run concurrently to the rugby tournament and will provide a framework for how the mixed ability model can be transferred to other sports and how the model can be used within business to develop a framework for Diversity and Inclusion.  Mixed Ability Week 20 will showcase mixed ability in action in rowing, boxing, Kimball and running. There will be the first ever women’s mixed ability tournament and the event will play host to an International Conference to discuss “The Future of Mixed Ability” with high profile speakers which will culminate in a photo exhibition that will tour Europe until October 2020.

International Mixed Ability Sports Director Martino Corazza welcomed the choice of Ireland as the host country.

Cork is a fantastic city, with a great rugby tradition, and Sunday’s Well Rebels are one of the best and brilliant examples of rugby clubs being truly representative of their local community. We are incredibly proud of this event and look forward to an exhilarating tournament in Cork. I know that IMART 2020 will spread IMAS’ inclusive message far and wide and inspire many more individuals, clubs and National Governing Bodies to take up Mixed Ability.”

Liam Maher (founder Sunday’s Well Rebels) spoke of their plans to showcase all that Cork has to offer to the tournament participants, as well as organisers and spectators who will flock to the event.

We have worked closely 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 securing recognition for Mixed Ability Rugby as an official rugby sport. We have been in talks with the IRFU since the Rebels were set up in 2014 and were part of a pilot project which has resulted in the creation of 5 new men’s mixed ability teams and Irelands first women’s team, the ‘Ballincollig Trail Blazers’ from Ballincollig RFC. We are also delighted that the IRFU will be on site for the week bringing their expertise to support the running of the tournament.

We are exceptionally proud that Cork has been chosen to host IMART 2020. Cork won the bid in part due to Ireland’s international reputation as a rugby powerhouse, but also because we have a 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!”

Get Involved

Mr. Craughwell concluded,

There are various ways individuals, companies and organisations can get involved.  Whether you have a few hours to spare to act as a volunteer during the week or whether you would like to come on board as a sponsor the project team would love to hear from you”.

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