1. ITV Report

Wales Deaf go Down Under for first major rugby tournament in over a decade

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Wales Deaf Rugby team are heading to Australia for the World Deaf Rugby Sevens Championship.

It's the first Deaf Rugby Sevens tournament and will include teams from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and England.

Tournament Participants:

  • Australia
  • England
  • Fiji
  • Ghana
  • Japan
  • Wales
  • World Barbarian

Wales won the inaugural World Deaf Rugby Championship in New Zealand in 2002 but there hasn't been a major international tournament since.

I hope we win because it'll give the deaf community something to be proud of with the world deaf sevens.

– Will Thomas, second row
Second row Will Thomas (Llandeilo RFC) use British Sign Language as his first language. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It's a bit of a once in a lifetime opportunity realistically. We'd like to progress deaf rugby throughout Wales - not only to adults but to children - so for them to go out there and do as well as they can, possibly even win the tournament that would be a great opportunity.

Some of the boys play a really good standard of rugby. Some of them are competing week in week out playing for Premiership, Championship teams. Others first, second division.

– Robert Coles, Wales head coach

The team is managed by volunteers and runs a community programme to introduce young deaf people to rugby.

The objective is to help young deaf people participate in the sport, encouraging them to join a local club and identify players who can represent Wales Deaf in the future.

Sign language interpreters are used to facilitate communication for profoundly deaf players. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

To play for the team a player needs a combined average hearing loss of 25 decibels or more in both ears. Players attend an audiology test to see if they meet the qualifying criteria.

Wales Deaf play an annual international test match against England but at present there's no 'Six Nations' style tournament since France, Scotland and Ireland do not have international deaf teams.