England Head Coach Tom Coyd took another step to boost the inclusivity of Wheelchair Rugby League over the Challenge Cup Final weekend by leading a training session aimed specifically at women and girls.
With Jodie Boyd-Ward making history as the captain of Leeds Rhinos in the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final against Catalans Dragons, and several women involved in the Challenge Trophy Final which preceded it between Gravesend Dynamite and Sheffield Eagles, Coyd was joined by Freya Levy, who has become a regular and inspirational presence in the England squad over the last three years – as well as becoming part of the BBC’s coverage of last autumn’s World Cup.
They spent an hour working on the skills of players from eight different clubs, including the likes of Salford Red Devils and Wakefield Trinity who have been founded in the last two years, before staging an exhibition match at half-time in the Cup Final.
Coyd said: “We had a number of major milestones for Wheelchair Rugby League over the weekend, with Catalans Dragons becoming the first overseas Challenge Cup winners in front of a record crowd, and having our first event targeted specifically at women and girls was another significant step.
“One of the greatest appeals of Wheelchair Rugby League is that anyone can get in a chair and play – but we have to recognise that sometimes that can be a daunting prospect, especially when you watch the intensity and ferocity of matches like the Challenge Cup Final.
“It’s one of the reasons the likes of Jodie Boyd-Ward and Freya Levy deserve so much admiration, for competing consistently at the highest level.
“They are fantastic role models for the dozens of girls and women who have been attracted to Wheelchair Rugby League since the World Cup – and it was brilliant to see so many new faces at our coaching session in Sheffield on Sunday.
“We have started a conversation about the best next steps to promote their development, and to encourage more women and girls to get involved – and we hope to offer some representative opportunities next year, as well as introducing a series of Festivals.”