Meet the future players of Wales' first ever disabled rugby league

  • Video report by ITV Wales reporter Hamish Auskerry

Rugby players with a physical disability will get the chance to represent Wales at the first-ever Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) World Cup this year.

PDRL is a full-contact version of the game adapted for players with a physical disability.

The first of many introductory sessions was held earlier this week as coaches search for the talent to take on the world and compete later this year.

Leif Thobroe decided to stop playing rugby after he was severely injured playing the sport in 2015.

Leif Thobroe is a Wellbeing Centre Manager at a youth work organisation.

Leif, from Swansea, took up taekwondo shortly afterwards and competed in the Para-Taekwondo World Championships.

Now Leif says he wants to get back into rugby and would jump at the chance to represent Wales in the PDRL.

He said: "I was going in for a tackle, and I ripped the nerves in my spine so I lost the use of my right arm.

"I'm loving getting back in again and getting back out there."

The first PDRL World cup was due to be held last year however the event was postponed due to Covid restrictions.

Leif is no stranger to competing at an international level. He went on to become a world bronze taekwondo medalist, a European silver medalist and a British national Taekwondo Champion.

"And now we're here training and I'm potentially looking forward to the [physical disability] world cup competing against all the other teams, New Zealand, Australia and England", he added.

"It's going to be amazing."

Tyma Hughes says he feels lucky to still be playing rugby at his age due to his spinal contition.

Tyma Hughes, who was born was spina bifida, was made to stop playing rugby when he was ten because he was told it was too dangerous.

Spina bifida is when a baby's spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.

But the Physical Disability Rugby League has allowed Tyma to reignite his passion for the sport.

Tyma said: "The left side of my body has grown to a different shape than the right side and I think at that point the doctors didn't know how long I'd live, they didn't know how much it would degenerate.

"I'm quite lucky that at my age I'm still here and able to do rugby in some capacity."

Tyma said at first, he didn't know that this opportunity existed for disabled people.

He said: "All of a sudden one of the boys turned to me and said 'why don't you play disabled rugby?'

"I'd never considered it, but it's actually a pretty big world with lots of opportunities."

The PDRL has a clear message, which is there is a place in rugby for everyone.

The manager of the Welsh PDRL, Neil Lynch said, "[It's] absolutely massive for Wales to actually take a team to a world cup and compete, and we will compete, it will be absolutely fantastic.

"And we could really then start to embed disability rugby league across the regions in Wales as well."

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