New Zealand’s first fully disabled rugby team took to the field in Christchurch over the weekend.
The team, belonging to High Schools Old Boys’, is part of an international organisation called Tri Trust Rugby.
The squad consists of 20 players who all have intellectual and/or physical disabilities and are aged between 12 and 40.
For many, it was their first time playing on a team.
Captain Bradley Holt, who has Prader-William Syndrome, said it’s the first time he’s felt like he really belonged.
“We get bullied a lot and it’s awesome to have Old Boys’ give us a jersey to play them... an actual club,” he said.
The side has ‘enablers’ playing alongside them from the club’s Division 1 and Colts teams who help facilitate the game and ensure everyone gets involved.
“We take it for granted writing our name down to play sports but for these guys it’s a rare opportunity,” said enabler Josh Purdon.
Jamie Livingstone, the club’s director, said the side’s a special addition to the club and it’s rewarding for all involved.
“It’s just amazing to give something back to people who haven’t had a chance to play rugby like we have,” he said.
The goal’s that in time they’ll have other teams to play against domestically, and one day internationally.