The month of May has been monumental for the Leicester Tigers wheelchair rugby team both on and off the court, with incredible recognition from across the sport and essential preparation ahead of a busy season in both recognised disciplines.
First and foremost, Rob Tarr had the distinction of being entered into the Great Britain wheelchair rugby Hall of Fame. The Tigers team manager and former chairman, received the honour at the Principality Stadium for his contribution to the sport as a whole, one that includes an incredible record as a three-time Paralympian and assistant coach for Team GB.
Also in the month of May, the Great Britain wheelchair rugby team were celebrating their achievements at Euro 2023, finishing runners-up to an excellent France team to earn a silver medal and a qualification to the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
Five members of the Leicester Tigers squad were involved in the teams success, including Nick Cummins, Kieran Flynn, Jack Smith, Jamie Stead and Gavin Walker. Three of these players, Cummins, Smith and Stead starred in the victory and were duly awarded Best in Class in 1.5, 2.5 and 0.5 divisions respectively.
On Sunday, May 21 at De Montfort University Queen Elizabeth II leisure facility, Leicester Tigers took on the ex-military personnel team Help the Heroes in a very competitive Development friendly with both groups warming-up ahead of the new season, with the Premiership and tournaments aplenty on the horizon.
With 4 wins from 4 games, the Tigers team, lead by Chairman and newly crowned Players Player of the Season Tom Folwell were excellent in a series of tough matches.
Paralympic Gold medallist and OBE Jamie Stead, the guest coach in these fixtures, said “The friendly against the Help for Hero’s rugby 5’s team was our last opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season in the Premiership. We managed to give all players an opportunity to show what they’ve got on the court and to earn their selection for the upcoming league weekend. During the series we also managed to give a debut appearance to a new club player Danny Higgins who has impressed in recent training sessions and has already shown his potential, earned his place in the team ahead of the new season”.
“The four game series was competitive and a real battle which was great preparation for the team, working on our set plays and lines for the new season. The games also gave us an opportunity to find things that we could improve on and we will now go away and work on these in training to put us in the best position going into the new premiership season where we hope to continue building on from our recent success in Poland.“
In the last weekend of fixtures before the Fours Premiership begins, the team played in a Division 1 tournament at the Nottingham Wildcats arena which had mixed results. The team selected for these fixtures was one that was concerned primarily with development for younger and less experienced players. Although the team are, naturally, disappointed with the results, they are able to take the positives from what will be a vital learning experience going forward.
When asked about last weekend’s action, Darren Matthews said “The weekend saw the Tigers combine with some loaned female players to bolster our team roster, Hannah Bucys and Haley Cassin; they are both on the talent pathway and enjoyed some valuable court time that will help aid their development. The weekend also saw Rhumbi Mulomo compete for the first time playing wheelchair rugby and she will also be looking at classification. Rhumbi is an exciting young player with great potential so I’m very excited about how she will continue to develop at the club. The rest of the squad was filled with Tigers from the second team who are continuing to build in the sport”.
With games against high quality opponents that includes the likes of Ospreys, Ulster and West Coast Heat, team manager Rob Tarr was able to come away happy with the team’s progress, ahead of their return to Premiership action.
Tarr said “It was a great weekend for our Leicester Tigers D1 Team. The weekend was not about winning but court time and recruitment. Sometimes you have to sacrifice winning for future development and success, everyone had fun and the club continues to expand. Congratulations to everyone involved”
This weekend, sees the beginning of the Fours Premiership season at the Concord Sports Arena in Sheffield.
For anybody from the Tigers family would like the support the wheelchair team, dates for fixtures and tournaments are available across the Social Channels:
Facebook - Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby
Twitter - @TigersWR