Some say that life is a journey you take alone. Others say we are not meant to walk this journey of life alone. What does the rugby community say?
“A year ago, when we founded Berkshire Banshees Wheelchair Rugby Club, our individual journeys became a collective journey,” says Luke, host of the RUGBY. DELIVERED match in Reading, England, last month.
The story of the Berkshire Banshees Wheelchair Rugby Club is essentially the story of rugby. People coming together, sharing together, and playing together. But to write theirs, Luke and his teammates faced challenges most of us don’t.
“We share a sport that recognizes our limitations but allows us to flourish within them.”Luke, match host in Reading, England
Ties that bind
“Everybody who applies to host a RUGBY. DELIVERED match, and every individual in each of their teams, will be on a personal journey of some kind,” says Luke. “In a way, we’re no different. But every individual in our team is on a journey that began with exceptional challenges – or began normally but veered in a very unexpected direction.”
Though each player’s journey was unique, a common thread tied them together.
“We’d already shared so much, even before we’d met one another. Some of us had shared the experience of being born disabled – growing up with a sense of our own difference from the people around us and our relative limitations. Some of us had shared the experience of acquiring a disability through injury or illness – having to recreate our own identities in our new reality.”
Now they’re discovering new ties that bind through the experience of playing wheelchair rugby.
“Having met one another, we now share other things. We share a sport that recognizes our limitations but allows us to flourish within them. We share an awareness of the trials that we’ve each endured and the strength that it took for us to pass those tests. We share an anticipation of the trials in our future and a willingness to confront them, knowing that we do so as a team.”
And like us all, they also share a love of the game – the adrenaline-inducing high of competition and pushing yourself to the limits.
“We are playing sport, it is exciting!” says Luke. “When you are on that court you are not disabled!”
Now their journey has taken them here, where they now share something else, but not just with each other. They join hundreds of rugby players on the RUGBY. DELIVERED. tour.
“To be part of a global rugby family, it means a huge amount to us,” says Luke.
“When you are on that court you are not disabled!”Luke
A welcome challenge
It also means that Luke and his team could win a trip to Japan for the Rugby World Cup 2019™. It’s both an opportunity of a lifetime and another chance to overcome new obstacles.
“A trip to Japan would present challenges of its own,” says Luke. “The difficulties of travelling are amplified for people with disabilities. We accept those challenges because the opportunity for us, as a team, to have an experience like this will probably never come again. In fact, we embrace those challenges because the struggle is what makes success so rewarding. We’ll return from Japan and we’ll say that we overcame the obstacles in our way. And we’ll say that we did it together.”
“In fact, we embrace those challenges because the struggle is what makes success so rewarding.”Luke
Just over the border, John had a specific journey in mind when he submitted his entry to host a RUGBY. DELIVERED. match. And it wasn’t just about rugby. He was thinking about the enlightening experience he could share with his rugby team in Japan.
Crossing cultures at home
“What an amazing opportunity for the lads to experience and observe Japanese unique culture and hospitality as well as follow Ireland as they seek World Cup glory,” he said.
“What an amazing opportunity for the lads to experience and observe Japanese unique culture and hospitality.”John, match host in Dublin, Ireland
John is also imagining a family experience. While he coaches his son’s under 11s rugby team, he says the coaches of all of his club’s teams have sons on his squad. He sees them all coming together to make the journey – and the new experiences it will bring – together.
For his match, he brought all the boys and their parents together for what he described as an “ultra-competitive” match ahead of Sunday family lunch – with an added twist. Three Japanese friends were invited to share the day and teach the kids some Japanese games.
“I had great fun with my friends, and we got to do all sorts of tricks,” said John’s son.
Across the globe, Oteta is also working hard to bring people together in his small Samoan village. He saw RUGBY. DELIVERED. as a way to inspire people to come out and play.
“If I have the tools to make this event happen, it would be very helpful to develop the game here,” he says.
“I always wanted to teach especially the young kids of my village how to play rugby.”Oteta, match host in Apia, Samoa
He’s especially keen on introducing girls to the sport – so he organized mixed age and gender game of tag rugby.
“I always wanted to teach especially the young kids of my village how to play rugby,” he adds.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
At the southern tip of the African continent, Johann is on a journey of empowerment – leveraging rugby to empower women.
Exposure that empowers
“There’s no such thing as enough exposure for a women’s team in a male dominated sport,” she says.
And that’s basically why she wanted to host a RUGBY. DELIVERED. match.
“I love my team, they are like my family.”Johann, match host in Stellenbosch, South Africa
“I want to give the ladies every opportunity I possibly can – they deserve it more than anything and they’ve worked so hard for it,” says Johann. “I love my team, they are like my family.”
“The ladies love exposure, playing and having fun in the name of rugby. What better way to have our game than a DHL RUGBY. DELIVERED. game!”
What would a trip to Tokyo mean for her and her ladies?
“The world,” she says. “It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember. Rugby is everything to me and I hope that one day I can experience the top of the game on the world’s most prestigious rugby stage.”
Join the journey!
The global rugby family is truly on a collective journey. Join the DHL RUGBY. DELIVERED. tour and be a part of it! And continue to watch this space for the stories we discover along the way.
Join RUGBY. DELIVERED. and get your chance
to win a trip to Rugby World Cup 2019™!