Integrated Rugby Team pushing bounderies

Llanelli Warriors rugby team are embarking on a tour that will again push the boundaries with the most ambitious sporting project involving players with learning difficulties.

The club will depart in June for New Zealand and Samoa to play a series of rugby matches.
No one will have travelled further to play mainstream rugby teams in the toughest rugby enviroments. We are a small club so this is a huge undertaking for us. We hope to play 2 matches in New Zealand and one in Samoa. We will also watch both the Welsh tests against Tonga and Samoa and some of the Lions matches.
The Llanelli Warriors was formed to give people the chance to get rugby experiences, a chance to have something in common with friends and family who played the game. This trip will put these players in a very small group, even in international terms only very few teams have played in Samoa, how many British players have experienced that? England, South Africa and Australia have never played there; Scotland, Ireland, France and New Zealand have played 1 match each. England are due to go there in 2020 so we’ll beat them to it. We have never looked to say we are special in terms of our ability, we know we will never be internationals, but as a club we want to make our own contribution to rugby and get the best experiences for our players. In that respect I think we could be any junior rugby club in the world. This trip will put our players in a very small elite of players. It will be their chance to be the ones people are jealous of, that have led the way.
It continues the Warriors proud history as innovators. The 2nd oldest integrated side, their promotion of the concept has had a big influence on the spread of integrated rugby. The Warriors were able to give formulation advice and guidance to the Bumble Bee Barbarians in England and the TRI Rugby charity in Scotland who in turn have developed the concept there. We hope that this will show that there are no limits to what can be achieved for teams like ours. We hope it will inspire others to challenge themselves and reach out beyond expectations. People expressed concern about us going to Samoa, but I remember we heard the same concerns when we went on our 1st ever tour to Teignmouth in Devon, the same when we went to New Zealand the 1st time. We’ve found that rugby is a truly international language and that people everywhere have understood what we are trying to do. We’ve never had any problems wherever and whoever we’ve played and I’m sure Samoa will be no different.
The Warriors have been to New Zealand previously in 2005. The trip to NZ in 2005 was life changing for some and a highlight for all of us who went, something that we all still talk about. Rugby and travel both help develop confidence and life skills, you get new perspectives and for people with disabilities, who are often denied many of the experiences we take for granted; getting married, working, owning a home, going away on holidays without parents or carers – the trip was so important. This trip however is going to go beyond even that. I do think that this is the ultimate rugby trip, New Zealand when the Lions are touring and then Samoa, perhaps in terms of what their team with such a small population the greatest rugby nation of them all. When we went to NZ last time we said that only watching Wales on a Pacific Islands tour could beat it. As a passionate group of players and supporters we are very proud to be following Wales across the world and to see them play will literally be a dream come true. Wales were the 1st of the full IRB nations to tour to Samoa so there is a certain symmetry that a Welsh club will be the 1st integrated side to travel there.
The Warriors have set up a just giving page: We aren’t looking for people to fund the whole trip, the players and their families have done that themselves through their own hard work. What we are looking for is that little bit extra that always helps on a trip like this, that will give them the chance to take advantage of some of the possibilities that might come along that we haven’t even thought about, that we don’t always have to take the easy option and so that we can do the trip with a bit of style.

Warriors Tour to New Zealand and Samoa itinerary:

Wed 14/6/17 Travel to London, Flight from London 21:25
Thu 15/6/17: Arrive Auckland 10:45am
Fri 16/6/17: Tonga v Wales (Eden Park – presume evening kick off on a Friday)
Sat 17/6/17: Travel to Hamilton – Maori v Lions 19:35 (Rotarua)
Sun 18/6/17
Mon 19/6/17
Tue 20/6/17: Chiefs v Lions (19:35)
Wed 21/6/17: Travel to Auckland, depart 16:25, Arrive Apia 21:15
Thu 22/6/17:
Fri 23/6/17: ??? Samoa v Wales (they haven’t confirmed but I suspect another Friday for tv)
Sat 24/6/17: ??? Samoa v Wales. (NZ v Lions 21:35)
Sun 25/6/17: Depart Apia 21:55, Arrive Auckland 1:10
Mon 26/6/17:
Tue 27/6/17:
Wed 28/6/17: Depart Auckland 13:10
Thu 28/6/17:Arrive Ldn 7:15
Warriors matches: Game in Hamilton area, game in Samoa, game in Auckland area - South Auckland Kiwis if they are still going

Fundraising efforts are taking place alongside some fantastic matches. Before heading off to New Zealand the Warriors will play Basque and English sides and hold their annual 7s and touch rugby tournament.

Full Schedule:

Dates: fundraising and games
April 28 – Match – Bumble Bee Barbarians for the H Bomb Cup(Home) 6:30pm Kick off
April 29 – 7s and touch, (Burry Port v Amman United), Gaztedi (Basque team)
May 10 – Monthly Disco
May 21 – Bike ride
May 22 – Curry Night, Llanelli
TBC: Fixture and show in Furnace, Burry Port cheap curry Night, bag packing Tesco/Morrisons.

If you can’t get along to any of these then you can donate HERE:

All support is greatly appreciated - Diolch yn fawr!

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Rugby, people with learning disabilities breaking new ground, Wales. What is there not to love?

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