Super League takes wheelchair game ‘on the road’ to big cities following World Cup success

James Gordon
Tom Halliwell England Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup

The six Wheelchair Super League teams will continue the new season with a special ‘on the road’ round in Birmingham next weekend.

The so-called Central Inclusion rounds were introduced as part of the plan to build on the impact of the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup last autumn, won by England in a thrilling final against France at Manchester Central. The plan is for the inclusion rounds to also include the Physical Disability and Learning Disability Super Leagues.

The venue will be the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston, in the shadow of Old Joe, the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world.

Future rounds will be taken on the road to Newcastle, Manchester and London.

See the best players on one pitch

Wheelchair rugby league icon James Simpson is now coach of Leeds, and they will open the round against London Roosters, coached by England World Cup-winning coach Tom Coyd. The Rhinos team includes World Cup winners Nathan Collins, Josh Butler and Tom Halliwell.

That opening clash is followed by a meeting of two of the developing clubs of the Super League as Warrington Wolves take on Hull FC – who are inspired by their father and son duo, Mike and Billy Swainger.

Defending champions Halifax Panthers will close the day with a clash against Wigan Warriors – a repeat of their exhilarating round one game where Wigan pulled off a shock 59-45 victory.

The Panthers, led by Rob Hawkins and including French international Jeremy Bourson and England star Seb Bechara, will be looking for immediate revenge against the Warriors – but it will be another tough contest with Declan Roberts and Adam Rigby starting the campaign in imperious form.

Martin Coyd OBE, the General Manager of England Wheelchair Rugby League, said: “We are really looking forward to the first Central Inclusion round in Birmingham. We believe it is a city where Wheelchair Rugby League has great potential, so it is the perfect venue for our inaugural event.

“These weekends will give fans the chance to see our best players on one pitch in a single afternoon – it is an incredibly exciting concept. The events also give us the chance to take Wheelchair Rugby League ‘on the road’ and help fulfil the massive demand there has been since England’s World Cup win last Autumn.

“We really hope that by experiencing the excitement of Wheelchair Rugby League in person, this will encourage more people to give to a go and play.”

Wheelchair legacy

The wheelchair game was a huge success story of the autumn World Cup, where England triumphed 28-24 in front of a packed crowd in Manchester.

The RFL has since revealed that 25 clubs and organisations up and down the country have now benefited from more than £400,000 in funding.

The new Wheelchair Super League season kicked off at Medway Park in Gillingham in March.

The Grand Final will be televised by Sky Sports for the third consecutive year, while a Magic Weekend will be held in Newcastle.

As well as the Super League, there is a Betfred Wheelchair Championship which includes Mersey Storm, Rochdale Hornets, Sheffield Eagles, Bradford Bulls, North Wales Crusaders and Wigan Warriors A.