Congratulations to West Coast Crash, London Lions, Marauders Tigers and Burn all of who were medal winners at this year’s Bernd Best Tournament. It was fantastic to see Crash win the Champions League and Burn the Advanced League – really well done to both. Bernd Best is a great club tournament and the success of our teams is witness to the growing strength of our club and league system. The next focus for most clubs will be the National Championships which are just over 2 weeks away. This year we are promoting the Nationals as a ‘week of wheelchair rugby’ in Stoke on Trent. We have teamed up with partners in the city to provide opportunities for people to get involved with the game and to ‘have a go’. Events start on Monday 28th with a Rugby Wheels group followed by a regular rugby session at which a player from Stoke City will attend. There will be similar sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday and then on Thursday, Stoke 6th Form College Sport Students will join us. All of these opportunities are great to promote awareness of our sport and to encourage new players and volunteers to get involved. Thank you to Jo Arnold in particular for the work she has done to get this all set up. The end of the week sees the start of the Nationals which this year looks as if it will more fiercely competitive than ever.
On 24th April we will be supporting the British Paralympic Association to deliver an ‘Away Day’ for Nissan Managers. Nissan are sponsors of the BPA and are keen to become more familiar with some of the paralympic sports so they will take part in wheelchair rugby, shooting, goalball and boccia in a ’round-robin’ competition. As well as supporting the BPA, this is a another opportunity for us to promote our game to an international business community.
Over the last two weeks I have been pretty busy with the planning behind two very big events – the Invictus Games, to be held in September with the Wheelchair Rugby event taking place on Friday 12th and with WWRC15 which is now really starting to take shape. The Invictus Games for our wounded warriors will feature athletics, archery, wheelchair basketball, road cycling, indoor rowing, swimming, power lifting and sitting volleyball, in addition to our sport. More than 400 injured, wounded and sick Service men and women are expected to take part from 14 countries that have served alongside one another, including Afghanistan. The games is an initiative of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, in partnership with the MOD, and the event is being organised by a group which is supported by the delivery team from London 2012. It is being sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover and the BBC will be the broadcast partner. This will be a great event and will provide another opportunity to profile our sport.
More of my time this last couple of weeks has been focused on WWRC15, and in particular on the planned launch and on getting sponsors onboard. I am in the middle of some very interesting sponsorship discussions as well as meeting with broadcasters. I feel fortunate in that we are being well supported by the England Rugby World Cup 15 team and the IRB is also helping with discussions. I hope soon to be able to give more information on the tournament and the launch.
That’s it for this week. A very happy Easter to you and your families and I look forward to catching up at the Nationals.