Alex began playing unified rugby in Scotland. When he moved to Shropshire he wanted to introduce others to the format, which enables disabled and non-disabled people to play as one team. Initially run as a tag rugby sessions, the twenty one person team now play the full contact game.


“I started playing unified rugby in Scotland, when my father got posted here I wanted continue with the sport, which is why I set up the Shropshire Stag’s sessions.”


Alex previously played in two mixed and coached a team in one ability world cup. He explained to us how the success of unified teams is growing, with four regional teams now running compared to the initial four teams across the whole of Britain.


“Playing first aided my coaching and then supporting other team mates on the pitch led to me taking my initial steps into a coaching role.”


Alex told us that he achieved his level two coaching qualification when he moved to Shropshire. This enables him to lead full contact sessions with children and adults.


“It is important to me for it to be as close to rugby as possible. There are slight changes to the rules to ensure the game is as inclusive as possible. For example players can choose to wear a red head guard which shows the opposition players that they do not wish to be tackled.”


He explains that his objective as a coach is to push people enough that they feel a benefit, explaining that this tends to happen naturally. “Players can see that I am highly invested in them which supports and encourages them to improve.”


Alex explained the benefit he gets from coaching, are the new experiences he faces enable him to build and introduce his own expertise when playing and coaching.


“Rugby definitely integrates communities and gives confidence to disabled people. Players benefit from sessions by becoming more confident and able to join in with social activities,” Alex explained.


Alex told us about the challenges he faces whilst coaching and playing as part of a unified mixed ability rugby teams. He explained that selecting players is always difficult and he wants everyone to be involved, however this is not always possible. Despite the challenges Alex told us his favourite part of coaching. “Brilliant to see the physicality amongst players who were initially fearful of the full contact element.”


When asked if he had any advice for those considering a coaching role, Alex said “to be open minded.” He is keen to ensure that people do not have restricted views of individuals with disabilities. 


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For more information contact, Jessica Lightwood