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The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has joined forces with the GingerCloud Foundation in an official partnership that will foster and promote the development of GingerCloud’s Modified Rugby Program.
The Modified Rugby Program (MRP) is a modified form of rugby in which boys and girls with learning and perceptual disabilities are paired with ‘PlayerMentors’ and learn to play rugby in a team environment, which enables them to become part of the fabric of their local rugby club.
The MRP embodies the essence and spirit of Australian Rugby’s vision which is “to inspire all Australians to enjoy our great global game” by making rugby a game for all.
In line with the 2012 World Report on Disability which recommends that communities promote the inclusion and participation of disabled people in their community by reducing restrictions that exist within current community activities, the MRP is structured to work within existing and established junior rugby club frameworks.
The impact that Modified Rugby has already had on local communities has been astounding. Since GingerCloud started the program in 2014 in partnership with Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) and Brothers Rugby Club in Brisbane, it has grown significantly. With QRU guidance and support, the program has expanded from 16 participants, one club and one team, to almost 200 participants, 6 clubs and 12 teams across South East Queensland. There are now three divisions of the MRP: the MRP, the MRP 7s and the MRP Colts tailored to meet the specific needs of children and young adults with learning and perceptual disabilities.
MRP participants have also had the opportunity to showcase their rugby skills on the ultimate stage, playing curtain-raiser and half-time matches on the iconic Suncorp Stadium to coincide with yesterday’s St.George Queensland Reds v Western Force match.
In 2016, GingerCloud were awarded the Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby Award at the John Eales Medal awards night for their outstanding contribution to rugby, and later that year, they were honoured again as a finalist for World Rugby’s ‘Character Award’.
The ARU’s partnership with GingerCloud will aim to support MRP by providing technical expertise, assist with developing a strategic framework for MRP’s growth, support promotional opportunities for the program, and endorse the program as an official community partner of the ARU.
ARU General Manager of Participation Growth & Strategy, Andrew Larratt said: “We’re delighted to be officially partnering with GingerCloud who we’ve worked with closely over the past few years. The ARU is deeply committed to making rugby a game for all by making it more accessible to people from all walks of life, and our partnership with GingerCloud will help us achieve this goal.
“Modified Rugby is great because it’s as much about social development and making friends as it is about rugby. Girls and boys who wouldn’t have otherwise have been able to join a team are making lifelong friends, and their parents on the sideline are too, which is just fantastic.
“Along with the QRU, we are looking forward to supporting GingerCloud as the Modified Rugby Program expands and brings the joy of rugby to many more boys and girls across Australia.”
GingerCloud Foundation Co-Founder and Managing Director Megan Elliott said establishing GingerCloud was all about creating a life without limitations for girls and boys with learning and perceptual disabilities like their son Max.
“Through the Modified Rugby Program we’re about creating a home for our children in rugby clubs everywhere and we’re delighted that the ARU has joined us on this journey," she said.
“Together we can make real social change and continue to drive respect, diversity and inclusion in our communities.”