The Sunday’s Well Rebels, Ireland’s only Mixed Ability rugby team, are through to the final of the Mixed Abilites Rugby World Tournament after three days of play in Bradford.
They face the host team, the Bradford and Bingley Bumble Bees, at 5pm today.
On the first day of the tournament, the undefeated Rebels topped their pool. In the first game, the Rebels faced old foes the Clan, the Scottish representation in the tournament. After a tough 60 minutes in the pouring rain, the game ended in a 14-14 draw. Mick Moynihan and James Mulcahy ran in the two tries, with Joe McCarthy and Jamie Wallace converting both.
Next up, the Rebels played Castleford RFC, one of the competition’s three English teams. Castleford did not have the 15 players necessary to take to the field but rather than leave the match unplayed, some of the Rebels lined out for the English team in an exhibition match.
What followed was an hour- long demonstration of the spirit of Mixed Ability Rugby; the Rebels’ players on both teams gave their all, even though they had already been awarded the win.
With a win and a draw each, the Rebels and the Clan were tied at the top of their pool, and a decision was made based on which team had better embodied the integrative spirit of mixed- ability rugby. The Irish side just edged their Scottish counterparts to top the pool.
Yesterday, the Rebels lined out against Clara Auvergne, one of the two French sides. The French had similarly remained undefeated in their pool games. In an action-packed match, the Rebels scored five tries to the French two, finishing with a 31-14 victory. Airidas Vaitkus scored two, with James Healy, Padraig Sisk, and Conor Farrell picking up one each.
At the same time, the Bumbles took to the field against the Italian side, Chivasso and with a 14-12 victory secured their place in the finals against the Rebels.
Ray Dennehy, a psychiatric nurse who doubles as the team’s physio and tight-head prop, said: “I knew the Rebels were a good rugby team, just not this good a rugby team.”
Sunday’s Well president Tony Mulcahy said: “We’re so proud of the lads. It’s an amazing accomplishment to get to where they are.”
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