Saturday 8th March, prior to the titanic clash with Llanelli Warriors, the Bumbles organised and hosted an international meeting to discuss the future of mixed ability rugby, involving all the realities interested in expanding this project.
Responding to the invitation, all 6 Nations countries were represented, with Wales lining up Swansea Gladiators (who are the oldest integrated rugby side, having been established two decades ago) and Llanelli Warriors. Italy was represented by Chivasso Rugby, Scotland by Tri-TheClan, France by the French Sport Adapted Federation and Ireland by Sundays WellRFC.
In addition to the Bumbles, promoters and hosts, England could also deploy Halifax Magpies and Castleford RUFC.
The aim was to bring together, and allow to meet face to face for the first time, all those involved in integrated/mixed ability/unified or adapted rugby, and to create common strategies to increase participation in full contact rugby for players with and without learning disabilities.
Delegates discussed the possibility of setting up a cross-European Federation of Mixed Ability/Integrated/Unified/Adapté Clubs, each country choosing its own model, according to contingent situations and social, sporting and historical context.
However, the common ground was identified in sharing proven good practices, ideas, and resources to spread the word around, help other teams in setting up and organise international events to showcase attract community and media attention.
The chosen name was Ability Rugby International – Playing is the prize (A.R.I.), because well underlines the Spirit we all share, that is looking at the abilities each player has rather than disability, and our International aims, remaining open not just to Europe, but to further worldwide developments.
The creation of this Federation, that will be officially presented in Saint Omer (France) later this year during an international conference about "Rugby, Inclusion and Disability", is a crucial step to allow us to speak with one voice and be hopefully recognised as a movement from the IRB, which is likely to attend the French appointment on 19th September 2014.