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Sight loss no barrier to playing rugby

A rugby taster session for blind and partially sighted people living in Wales will be held at Cardiff Arms Park on 21 August. 

The event, which is organised by the Change Foundation and supported by the Cardiff Blues Community Foundation and UNA Exchange, seeks to bring Visually Impaired (VI) rugby to Wales for the first time. 

The taster session is open to all ages and ability levels and offers a fun, jam-packed day of training and tournaments. Registration begins at 10am and the session runs until 3pm. 

The session is being held in anticipation of this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. In addition to the main games, the UK VI rugby team will be travelling to the competition and playing the Japanese and New Zealand VI teams. The UK team is made up of partially sighted players from across the country including Welshman Gareth Davies. 

Gareth, 45, from Cardiff, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 19 and was registered blind five years ago. A keen rugby player, he was initially devastated when his condition deteriorated. Gareth now works for RNIB and is dedicated to proving that people living with sight loss can still achieve their life goals despite facing challenges. The charity is committed to breaking down barriers for blind and partially sighted people, including those in sport. 

Gareth said: “Having the opportunity to play rugby again following my sight loss has been incredible. VI rugby has given me the chance to compete again in a sport I love but thought I had lost. The camaraderie, fun and fitness that VI rugby offers is second to none. 

“The game is growing rapidly in England and now we have an opportunity to get a Welsh team up and running. All partially sighted players are welcome to attend the taster session, even if they haven’t played before but are keen to try.” 

Tobias Smith, Programme Officer at UNA Exchange said: “It is so exciting to bring VI rugby opportunities to the people of Wales and a privilege to host the event at Cardiff Arms Park. 

“Participants will be able to take part in rugby in a way they never have before. A morning of skills training will be followed by an afternoon of tournaments, but the most important message of the day is to have fun.” 

To register for the taster session, contact Tobias Smith at [email protected].