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Inclusion Day is a runaway success

A day that “unites us all” was how one of the participants described his experience at the NSWRL Inclusion Day at Sydney Olympic Park last weekend (Saturday 23 March).

Inclusion Day celebrated its second year and brings together people of all abilities, genders and cultural backgrounds to showcase the different formats of Rugby League.

Dr Alex Smith from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture at the UNSW (University of New South Wales) is an avid member of Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) and represented NSW Country in their narrow 16-10 loss to NSW City last year.

Smith was one of the 120 registrations received by NSWRL for Inclusion Day covering abilities including Down syndrome, autism, amputees, cerebral palsy, vision-impaired, intellectual disability, hearing-impaired, stroke, acquired brain injury, as well as able-bodied.

The PDRL format has 11 players on each team with varying functional ability, who are given a classification of A, B or C. Two able-bodied players per team is allowed – similar to Wheelchair Rugby League – showing that Rugby League truly is the game for all.

Smith took part in an exhibition game by two PDRL sides.

“Players reap the benefits of participating in community-based sport like this such as increased social connection, increased mobility, agility, skills, as well as increased positive mood and quality of life,” Smith told

“These benefits are important to recognise as having a disability can sometimes narrow your world, reduce opportunities for participation, and negatively impact on your sense of self and self-confidence.

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“That is why events like the NSWRL Inclusion Day are important for the PDRL calendar. Opportunities to showcase the wealth of talent and passion for rugby league are on display,” he said.

“It is a chance for PDRL to show other people with disability that you can - you can join our footy family as a player, a manager, a trainer.

“Irrespective of disability we are united by a love for the game of rugby league, and a passion to be involved. It unites us all.”

The Inclusion Day also brought together people from 16 cultures (Indigenous Australians, Australian, Tanzania, Vietnam, Phillipines, Cook Islands, Greek, Fiji, Italy, NZ Maori, Portuguese, Samoa, English, Scottish, Sudan, Tonga) who either play for a local club or are part of a Heritage Rugby League team.

Across the board, one quarter of the registrations last Saturday were female and the ages represented were from four years to 60 years-old.

Anyone wishing to play in one of NSWRL’s different formats of the game can receive more information by contacting the below:

Physical Disability Rugby League contact Paul Tubridy:

NSW Wheelchair contact Ben Cheeseman:

Try Time is a club-based program. For more information: Try Time Rugby League | NSWRL

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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