Chris Ryan

Captain

Classification: 2.0

Date of birth: 11/07/91

Home town: Welwyn Garden City

Club: London Wheelchair Rugby Club

Disability: Spinal injury

Initially a keen footballer, Chris found a passion for golf during his teens. With a handicap down to just 2, and a collection of Junior Open and scratch medals to his name, Chris was confident he knew what the future held. He enrolled at the Sports Academy for Golf in Colchester, and was studying for a B.Tech in Sports Evaluation and Performance, when the car he was a passenger in crashed in November 2008.

Like many of the GB squad members, Chris undertook his rehab at the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville. He was introduced to wheelchair rugby by the unit’s sports therapist but, initially concerned with just getting on with life, Chris returned home to assess his options.

In 2010 he joined the London club and became inspired by the players with the same function as him, who had far greater independence and ability. Chris worked hard to improve his strength and speed and was put on the reserve list for London 2012. Chris was selected to the full squad in 2013, named vice captain in March 2014 and appointed national Captain in July 2015. In September 2015 he led the GB team to reclaim the European title after 8 years.

Chris made his Paralympic debut at the 2016 Rio Paralympic games where along with his Vice-captain Gavin Walker, he remained Captain.

In July 2017, Chris again led the team to victory as they successfully defended their European title in Germany. Chris continues to be a integral part of the team and will remain Captain at the Quad Nations held in Leicester in March 2018.

Playing history

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st

2016 Rio Paralympics – 5th

2016 Canada Cup – 5th

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

 

Gavin Walker

Vice-captain

Classification: 2.0

Date of Birth: 13/10/83

Home town: Rotherham

Club: Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Club

Disability: Spinal injury

Supported by: Get Kids Going!

Gavin joined the fire service in 2003 but his life changed significantly when he broke his neck, slipping on some wet decking in 2010. During his rehab in the Sheffield Spinal Unit, Gavin met Sarah Leighton, a GBWR classifier, and physio. Sarah told him all about the sport and in 2011 Gavin went along to his first training session at the Marauders club. Selected to the Development Squad in 2011/12, Gavin joined a new cohort of players who now make up the main body of the national squad.

Gavin continued to work for the fire service in Sheffield until 2012. In 2013 he was selected for the national squad and became a full time athlete. He competed in his first Major at the European Championships in Antwerp in 2013, returning with a bronze medal, and went on to compete in the World Championships in Denmark in 2014. In July 2015 Gavin was appointed vice captain, working alongside new captain Chris Ryan.

He went on to compete in the successful European Championship team in September of the same year before returning to play in the BT WWRC15 competition in London. Gavin and Chris have developed a great partnership, both have their roles as leaders within the squad, on and off the court. Gavin made his Paralympic debut at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games where he was consistently within the teams starting line. Gavin is also the proud father of two daughters.

Having successfully retained the title at the European championships in 2017, Gavin continues to be vice captain of the squad.

Playing history

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st

2016 Rio Paralympics – 5th

2016 Canada Cup – 5th

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

 

 

Jonathan Coggan

Classification: 0.5

Date of birth: 25/04/83

Home town: Chelmsford

Club: London Wheelchair Rugby Club

Disability: Spinal injury

Jonny was injured in a car crash in 2000. A keen footballer, Jonny watched the Sydney Paralympics from his hospital bed. During rehab at Stoke Mandeville, Jonny was introduced to a wide range of Paralympic sports but focussed his attention on Wheelchair Rugby because, as a team sport that allowed physical contact, it came closest to his previous experience as a footballer.

Jonny started playing club rugby in 2001, and in 2002 was invited to go on a World Rugby Tour with the GB development squad. The tour took in San Diego, Sydney, Singapore and Cape Town. In 2003 he participated in the World Wheelchair Games in Christchurch, New Zealand and then went on to gain his first full international cap playing in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

Since then Jonny has been a constant fixture in the GB squad. Considered to be one of the best 0.5s in the game, he has won best in class at the 2006 World Championships and in the 2009 and 2011 European Championships. Jonny continued to be in the starting lines at the Rio 2016 paralympics and 2017 European championships.

Now regarded as one of the most senior members, Jonny is a role model to many of his team mates both on and off the court continuing to be an integral part of the squad.

Playing history

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st

2016 Rio Paralympics – 5th

2016 Canada Cup – 5th

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

2012 London Paralympics – 5th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

2010 World Championships, Canada – 6th

2009 European Championships, Denmark – 4th

2008 Beijing Paralympics – 4th

2007 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2006 World Championships, New Zealand – 4th

2005 European Championships, Denmark – 1st

2004 Athens Paralympics – 4th

 

Muhammad Islam

Classification:    0.5

Date of birth:     19/06/87

Home town:       Walsall

Club:                      Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Club

Disability:            Spinal injury

At age 17 Muhammad (aka Ships) was involved in a road traffic accident and broke his neck.  Like so many of the GB squad, Ships received his rehab at Stoke Mandeville where he was introduced to a wide range of sports, including wheelchair rugby.  Following his release from hospital Ships took time to build his strength and coordination before joining West Coast Crash in 2006. After many successful seasons with Crash, in 2015 Ships transferred to Leicester Tigers.

Ships was selected to the GB development squad in 2011 and has been involved with the GB squad since April 2013.  Selected for the World Championships in 2014 and narrowly missing selection for Rio 2016, Ships has continued to work hard on and off the court. Always a perfectionist, Ships spends hours every day perfecting his skills, and has developed excellent ball handling skills. He credits his team mate, Jonny Coggan, as his inspiration.

Ships will be representing GB at the Quad Nations held in Leicester in March 2018.

Playing history

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

 

Ryan Cowling

Classification: 1.0

Date of Birth: 05/02/76

Home Town: Matlock

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Spinal injury

Ryan joined the GB Talent development squad in 2014 and went on to be the teams captain, until November 2015 when Ryan was invited to train with the main GB squad. His international debut was in a friendly match vs Denmark and then he was selected to attend the Rio 2016 Test Event in February 2016. The team finished first and took home the gold at this Test event. Ryan returned to Rio in September 2016 where he made his debut as part of the Paralympic squad.

Ryan continued to work hard and was part the team who successfully defended their title at the European championships 2017.

In addition to his career in wheelchair rugby, Ryan has a passion for scuba diving and used to travel the world to practise the sport.

A former serviceman, he joined the army in 1993, a year before his injury and is the proud father of 2 daughters.

Playing history

2016 Rio Paralympics – 5th

2016 Canada Cup – 5th

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

Myles Pearson

Classification: 1.5

Date of Birth: 15/3/1993

Home Town: Lytham St Annes

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Arthogryposis

Myles was first introduced to the sport at a young age of 15 at West Coast Crash, having previously tried wheelchair tennis he preferred the dynamics of the team sport of wheelchair rugby. His debut for GB was in February 2011 in a series of friendly games against Finland, following that he was selected for the 2011 European Championships and returned with a silver medal.

Myles was the youngest member of the squad when he had his Paralympic debut at London 2012. Following that he took time away from the international stage and concentrated on his education, but remained playing club rugby. Transferring to Solent Sharks from 2012 until 2015. After his time away at University Myles returned to the North West, rejoined West Coast Crash and became part of the Talent development team during 2016 with a goal to be invited to the selection camp in 2017, he achieved this.

Myles continued to work hard and was selected to be part the team who successfully defended their title at the European championships 2017.

Playing history

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st

2012 London Paralympics – 5th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

Nicholas Cummins

Classification: 1.5

Date of Birth: 4/8/1985

Home Town: Leicester

Club: Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Club

Disability: Meningococcal Septicaemia

Supported by: BOOST Charity

Nick contracted Meningococcal septicaemia when he was 19, whilst recovering he got hooked on watching wheelchair rugby at the Beijing Paralympics. Inspired to get involved he contacted his local team, throughout the following years Nick was part of the Talent Development squad in 2011 – 2012 2013 -2014. He was invited to the GB squad in 2014 making his first debut at the BT World wheelchair rugby championships in 2015 and also attending the Rio test event in February 2016.

Although narrowly missing selection for the final 12 for the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Nick remained part of the training squad throughout the build up to the games. Successfully making the selection for the 2017 European Championships in germany, where the team took the gold and defended their title.

Nick also is studying a part time PhD in history.

Playing history

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

Ayaz Bhuta

Classification: 2.5

Date of birth: 17/04/89

Home town: Bolton

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Roberts Syndrome

Supported by: Hogan Lovells GB Athlete Bursary

Bolton’s Ayaz Bhuta, is part of the new crop of young talented players to enter the national squad since London 2012. Born with Roberts Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the growth of bones in the arms and legs, Ayaz stands at just 3’ 7”. But what he lacks in height, he more than makes up for in character and talent. Originally a wheelchair basketball player, Ayaz started playing club rugby in 2009, and found the more physical elements of the game suited him better.

He was selected to play in a tri-nations tournament in Australia in 2010. Ayaz returned from Australia disappointed after being warned that his size meant he would be unlikely to succeed at international level. However Ayaz is nothing if not persistent. He stuck with the game and was selected for the GBWR Development Squad in 2011.

At his first development squad tournament (Rugby Mania 2012) Ayaz was voted ‘best in class’ and from then on he went from strength to strength. In 2013 he made his full GB debut at the Denmark Challenge Cup, where he was again voted best in class.

In Canada Cup 2014 Ayaz was again named the best 2.5 of the tournament. Since his debut Ayaz has developed immensely as a player and was consistently part of the Rio 2016 Paralympic starting line.

Ayaz was a key player in the teams success at the European championships in 2017 and is constantly working hard on and off court. Recently having involvement in a charity for young migrants and refugees, Ayaz is looking to continue that work through being a mentor.

Playing History

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st

2016 Rio Paralympics – 5th

2016 Canada Cup – 5th

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

 

Jamie Stead

Classification: 2.5

Date of Birth: 22/09/93

Home Town: Normanton

Club: Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Club

Disability: Cerebral Palsy

Supported by: Get Kids Going!

As a keen sportsman, Jamie tried a number of sports before settling on wheelchair rugby.

He made his international debut at the Canada cup in 2014 and has gone on to represent GB at European and World level, returning from the European Championships in Finland with a gold medal. Jamie made his Paralympic debut as the 2016 Rio Paralympic games where he was an integral member of the team.

Jamie has continued to grow as a player and was a integral part of the squads success defending their title at the 2017 European championships.

Playing History

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st 

2016 Rio Paralympics – 5th

2016 Canada Cup – 5th

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

 

Jim Roberts

Classification: 3.0

Date of Birth: 03/09/87

Home Town: Welshpool

Club: London Wheelchair Rugby Club

Disability: Bi-lateral amputee

Jim Roberts was a successful Welsh cross country runner when he caught bacterial meningitis whilst an under graduate at Coventry University. This resulted in a prolonged stay in hospital, and the amputation of both his legs. A nurse who supported his rehab, introduced him to the sport of Wheelchair Rugby and Jim quickly became an influential force in the game.

Leaving hospital in 2010, Jim returned to his studies, gaining a 1st Class honours degree in Architectural Design. He was picked for the development squad in 2012 and made his GB debut in 2013 at the European Championships. Jim has played on both sides of the Atlantic – for Phoenix Heat in the winter and London WRC in the summer – winning national honours for both teams and gaining recognition as MVP at the US Nationals in 2015.

At the European Championships in September 2015, Jim was awarded Best in Class, clinching the winning goal to reclaim the European title after 8 years, and gaining automatic qualification to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Following his performance at the Rio Paralympics in September 2016, Jim was highlighted by the International wheelchair rugby Federation (IWRF) as a player to watch in 2017. Jim was again awarded Best in Class at the 2017 Europeans, after the team had succesfully defended and retained their European title.

Playing History

2017 European Championships, Germany – 1st

2016 Rio Paralympics – 5th

2016 Canada Cup – 5th

2016 Paralympic Test Event, Rio – 1st

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

 

Aaron Phipps

Classification: 3.5

Date of birth: 07/04/1983

Home town: Southampton

Club: Team Solent Sharks

Supported by: Get Kids Going!

Aaron first heard about the sport in 2008 when he was at a wheelchair racing event and had met 2 ex GB wheelchair rugby athletes, they passed him some contact details to get involved. After his initial sessions, Aaron had developed a love of the sport and with his already high fitness level and speed, it was noted by the GB coach of his potential.

Aaron was invited to GB training and selected for the 2009 European championships where the team finished fourth. Following this the hard work continued and continued to be an integral part of the team at the 2010 World Championships and 2011 Europeans. Making his Paralympic debut at London 2012.

Following that he took time away from the international stage and concentrated on his work and family life but remained playing club rugby for Solent Sharks. Aaron in 2016 successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Meningitis Research Foundation (MSF).

Aaron is very much a family man away from the rugby court, and the proud father of two daughters, Ella and Chloe.

In 2017 Aaron returned to high level training with the goal to achieve selection back onto the GB team. He was successful, Aaron will represent GB in Leicester at the Quad Nations in March

Playing history

2012 London Paralympics – 5th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

2010 World Championships, Canada – 6th

2009 European Championships, Denmark – 4th

Stuart Robinson

Classification: 3.5

Date of Birth: 15/4/1982

Home Town: Morecombe

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Bi-lateral amputee

Supported by: RAF Benevolent Fund

Stuart was serving with the RAF Regiment and whilst on his 4th tour of Afghanistan, was injured by an explosion. Originally introduced to the sport in 2014, Stuart has already tasted Wheelchair rugby success at the Invictus Games in 2016, winning a bronze medal. Following this he became part of the GBWR Talent development squad and was selected for the Paralympic Inspiration Programme in 2016, where they attended the Rio Paralympic games.

Stuart returned driven to be involved at the next level, representing with the Invictus team at both 2016 and 2017 games.

Stuart was invited to GB training in November 2016 and was part of the team who were successful at retaining their title at the 2017 European championships

Playing history

March 2017 – European Championships, Germany  – 1st

Chris Ryan

Captain

Gavin Walker

Vice-captain

Jonathan Coggan

Muhammad Islam

Ryan Cowling

Myles Pearson

Nicholas Cummins

Ayaz Bhuta

Jamie Stead

Jim Roberts

Aaron Phipps

Stuart Robinson