Rugby League


31 Aug 2023

Summer of success for inclusive Rugby League participation

Summer of success for inclusive Rugby League participation

Inclusive Rugby League continues to thrive in 2023, with record player registrations for Wheelchair, Physical Disability and Learning Disability variations.

Participation is up over 45% across all three formats year-on-year making it a record breaking season.  

Wheelchair Rugby League 

An action-packed summer for the game’s disability variants included a series of Wheelchair Rugby League ‘Magic Rounds’ and a thrilling Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final between Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos. 

In late July the Betfred Wheelchair Super League headed south to Kent for another ‘Magic Round’, and with just two rounds of the regular season remaining Leeds Rhinos and London Roosters guaranteed themselves home ties in September’s play-offs. 

In August Catalans Dragons won their first Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup title with an emphatic victory over Leeds Rhinos at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. The Dragons had been beaten by Leeds in last year’s final in Hull, but ended the Rhinos’ four-year grip on the cup by running in 12 tries in a sparkling performance. 

And following the success of last autumn's Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup, another showpiece Anglo-French occasion took place in late August 25 as the Betfred Wheelchair Super League champions Halifax Panthers crossed the channel to face Catalans Dragons in the inaugural European Club Championship. The Panthers defied the odds and shared the spoils with their French counterparts in a thrilling encounter that ended 32 apiece.  

September will see the final two rounds of the Wheelchair Super League take place before the Grand Final on October 15. 

Physical Disability Rugby League 

Two Physical Disability Rugby League squads met at York St John University in July?to take part in a domestic representative fixture. 

England PDRL Community Lions Head Coach, Michelle Melling, invited 30 players to the event in York which was part of a new international programme that has been developed to incorporate a more inclusive approach to representative PDRL.

Melling also named her first 20-player ‘train on’ squad as the she looks forward to playing two international fixtures against Wales this Autumn. The two-game series will be the pinnacle of this year’s international programme, with the first fixture taking place on September 2. 

September will also see the PDRL season draw to a close, with the Finals Festival set to take place on September 30 at Sheffield Hallam University. 

Learning Disability Rugby League 

Four regional LDRL Festivals took place over July and August in Leigh, Hull, St Helens and Featherstone. Overall, over 17 teams took part with dozens of players having the opportunity to play.  

The LDRL will celebrate a Finals Festival on September 23 at Belle Vue, Salford.