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Homeless Rugby Cup hosts home nations

The 2017 Homeless Rugby International Cup will take place at Sixways Stadium in Worcester on May 20.

England, Scotland and Wales will compete for the Cup as part of a wider festival of inclusive rugby being run by Worcester Warriors’ Community Foundation, including a range of mixed ability rugby matches.

The first Homeless Rugby CIC International Cup took place in 2016, when Worcester (England) beat Glasgow (Scotland) 6-5 in Caldy. This year’s event will have representation from Newport (Wales) as the popularity of the tournament grows.

Homeless Rugby CIC Director Darran Martin said: “We’re delighted that this season’s Homeless Rugby International Cup will be hosted at Sixways.

“It’s a really exciting moment as, for the first time the players will be representing their countries and playing as England, Scotland and Wales. It will be a fantastic experience for the players show their skills and how far they have come on the Sixways turf.”

Homeless Rugby CIC was initially created to promote the values of the game and show how rugby can have a positive impact on people’s lives on and off the field.

Jim Edgar, a Homeless Rugby Player from Glasgow, says that the organisation goes beyond rugby.

“It is not only playing rugby, it is also helping us into employment, and training us to be positive and to have faith in ourselves,” he said.

“We have had a couple of psychology talks, with a professional, which was about character-building and finding our best and worst qualities. We really learned a lot about ourselves, it was an experience.”

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Q&A with Homeless Rugby CIC Director Darran Martin

Q. How and why was Homeless Rugby CIC first formed?

A. Homeless Rugby was formed in 2013 after we saw the positive impact that Homeless Football had made. As a former rugby player, I felt the game and community had a lot to give to people affected by homelessness. So we invited a few teams and homeless charities together to talk about the idea of setting up a team. Worcester Warriors and Worcester YMCA put their hands up, started our first team and since then we’ve had new teams form in Scotland and Wales too.

Q. Is rugby a particularly good sport to help achieve your aims?

There are some challenges initially, as many people we have worked with have never played rugby. But we have found that to be a great leveller as everyone has an opportunity to learn a new game together. The discipline, teamwork and dedication to progress on the pitch, along with the community off the pitch, has played a key role in Homeless Rugby forming and growing the impact of our work.

Q. Away from the rugby pitch, what programmes or sessions do you run?

A. We focus on the rugby element and encourage our partners in the local areas, who know the players and their needs, to see what learning and development opportunities may exist. It’s something that is different from area to area, so for example in England we work with the YMCA in Worcester and South-West London and NG Homes (North Glasgow Housing Association) in Scotland.

Q. Where do your participants come from?

A. We work with existing housing and homeless organisations who have pre-existing relationships with people affected by homelessness. We aim to work in partnership with these organisations to identify if there is a need or demand for a new sporting opportunity and an appetite to try rugby – for some, for the first time. Furthermore we aim to be inclusive so not every player has been affected by homelessness, some will have faced different challenges. Potential players could have a range of needs, varying in importance and complexity. We want to ensure we are offering the right opportunity to the right people at the right time, and we are very thankful for the positive engagement we have had from other organisations.

Q. What’s the ambition of the organisation?

A. To create more local teams and more opportunities to play the game and become part of the rugby family, benefitting people’s physical and mental health and making their social networks stronger. Our long-term aim is an increase in the number of teams from the countries where we already have teams (England, Scotland and Wales), whilst creating new teams across the rugby world. We have our International Cup taking place on May 20, and now want to increase the number of teams from across the rugby world.

To find out more about Homeless Rugby, visit the website www.homelessrugby.org or follow @homelessrugby on Twitter.

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