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Wheelchair rugby: How the Crawley Jets came about

An older man with grey hair sitting on the floor of a sports hall talking wearing a navy blue Crawley rugby club top with his initials PC on it
President of Crawley Rugby Club and coach Paul Chapman

Wheelchair rugby: How the Crawley Jets came about

As part of our series looking at various sports in the Paralympics and Olympics we went to visit the Crawley Jets – a wheelchair rugby team that is part of Crawley Rugby Club.

There we learnt more about the sport and why the members take part. 

This article is one of a series of articles. You can watch a video of the Crawley Jets here.

Crawley Jets was formed in 2019 by the then chairman, now president of Crawley Rugby Club, Paul Chapman.

It came off the back of an initiative at the club called Sunday Socials, which saw a group of young adults with special needs given jobs around the club.

The success of this inclusive project led to Paul going around to different sports clubs across the county and it was at one of these clubs he met someone from the Brighton Bears wheelchair basketball club who questioned whether they had considered forming a wheelchair rugby team.

Paul explained: “I contacted Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby and with some encouragement, we managed to get some loan chairs, ran some taster sessions here and it was all about trying to get more people involved in the club. 

“It started off quite quietly and then three months after we started we had eight or nine regular people training.”

Following the covid pandemic, the club restarted and was entered into competitions.

Active Sussex then managed to secure a £5,000 grant for the club to buy a trailer to store and transport all the specialist wheelchairs for training and matches.

“Now we are top of league one and hopefully we will get promoted to the championship,” said Paul. “In three and a bit years this team has done incredibly well. 

“We are unbelievably proud of them. 

“They are all full members of Crawley Rugby Club and when we have games they turn up and watch the first team play and we get lots of support here. 

“It has been a wonderful experience. They come into the club and socialise with the other players, join the committees and we want to make them all one and that is what is happening.”

There are two wheelchair rugby teams in Sussex – the Crawley Jets which practice at the K2 in Crawley on a Monday evening, and the Brighton Buccaneers who play at The Sports Centre, at the Falmer Campus at the University of Brighton.

To find out how you can get involved in wheelchair rugby, visit https://gbwr.org.uk/

Or for more information about the Crawley Jets, visit https://www.crawleyrfc.com/teams/234316/the-team

Read why Trish Duffy enjoys playing wheelchair rugby

Read here the story of Crawley Jets player Victoria Lacy

Read how you can benefit from wheelchair rugby whatever your age

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