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Wheelchair rugby: The benefits of playing the sport whatever your age

Playetrs in their wheelchairs listening to the coach who is sitting on the floor
A team chat

Wheelchair rugby: The benefits of playing the sport whatever your age

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.

Matthew Hatch has been playing for 18 months and as he is in his fifties he is one of the oldest members of the Crawley Jets.

“It is good for the mind and lots of fitness and you get to chat and meet up with a lot of good friends,” Matthew says.

Matthew, who has spina bifida, takes part in a range of sports, ranging from swimming and basketball, to weight lifting in his ‘younger days’, and going out for pushes every day.

Wheelchair rugby is a great exercise to develop his arms, shoulders and cardio.

Matthew says: “I feel energised and very tired and sometimes quite bruised as well because of the contact when you get thrown out of your chair and you hit the deck rather hard. It can hurt because it is a full-contact sport.”

Jack Hagan is the youngest player at 18 and has played for two years.

“I was having a look at different sports and I saw wheelchair rugby and it intrigued me and I wanted to give it a go and I loved it ever since I first came here,” Jack says. 

When asked what he perceives as the benefits of playing wheelchair rugby he says: “Physically, because it makes you stronger, and socially, because it helps you make more friends and I am more confident with meeting new people. 

“I like the hitting obviously and the atmosphere the whole time. The range difference of the ages does not bother me as it just feels like you are playing with your mates. 

“I do not see any of this lot as older than me, I feel like they are all the same age as me.”

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 about how the Crawley Jets came about

Read why Trish Duffy enjoys playing wheelchair rugby

Read here the story of Crawley Jets player Victoria Lacy

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