1. ITV Report

Wales Deaf Rugby urges women and girls to sign up to new side

Wales Deaf Rugby is running a recruitment campaign to set up a new team which will give women and girls with hearing loss the opportunity to represent their country.

Charlotte Mitchell, who plays rugby for Ynysddu Panthers, says it’s an important step in developing disability sport.

"Being hard of hearing myself I think it's really important to start building up the sport and building up the awareness around disability sporting", she said.

"I wanted to get involved because it's a chance to play for Wales and represent my country but it's also a chance to meet other people who are hard of hearing and love rugby as much as you do.

And I think it shows other girls and other people who are hard of hearing that there are programmes out there for you. You're not just that kind of afterthought - disabled people are just as into sport as everyone else".

Anyone with a hearing loss of 25 decibels or more in both years is eligible to join.

The side will be coached by Jo Williams who is also the Disability Rugby Officer with the Cardiff Blues Disability.

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And you don’t have to be profoundly deaf to get involved. Anyone with a hearing loss of 25 decibels or more in both years is eligible to join.

Men's head coach Robert Coles has high hopes for the women's side.

Wales Deaf Rugby men’s team are world champions in both the 15 and 7-a-side formats of the game and head coach Robert Coles says a women’s side can emulate that success.

"Wales Deaf Rugby are current world 15’s and deaf 7’s champions after winning the World Deaf Sevens out in Australia. Ultimately that's what we'd like to achieve.

"I think to get the ball rolling to begin with first and foremost by getting enough players for a sevens team or squad and then building for 15s.

"In England deaf rugby have had a women's side for quite a few years now so we need to try and catch up with them.

"But as well as that also trying to get more deaf and hard of hearing women, girls also involved and understanding that there is going to be a pathway for them to play at the highest level."

Former Wales and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard praised the ambition of the squad.

Former Wales and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard has recently joined the coaching set up.

"It's hard winning but it's hard staying on top and that's what they want to do. The ambition in the squad is amazing. So it's just to keep winning and keep winning well.

"I just want to pass on a little bit of knowledge if there's anyway. I'm sure I've got a bit of knowledge up there still. It hasn't all been knocked out of me."