As part of the Project Rugby initiative, Yorkshire Carnegie’s community team have been delivering Mixed Ability rugby across the county since May 2017.

Mixed Ability rugby encourages able-bodied and disabled athletes to participate together in full contact rugby, regardless of their disability. The aim is for individuals to develop their rugby skills and also to break down barriers that a disability can cause.

One of the clubs Yorkshire Carnegie have been working with is Leeds Corinthians. The club along with International Mixed Ability Sports have supported individuals in their development and their integration into the club.

One person who has benefited from the support is Lee Robbins, who has Autism and learning difficulties, and is one of the founding members of the Leeds Corinthians Mixed Ability Team.

Lee attended the very first Yorkshire Carnegie Mixed Ability training session at Leeds Corinthians and since then his love for the sport has grown and is the driving force behind the creation of the team.

Lee has progressed from the beginners training sessions to the development group and to the club training session.

Speaking to Lee about why he plays rugby he said: “I really love rugby and being part of a team, I look forward to every session. I feel that rugby has helped me build my confidence enough so that I feel able to come out of my shell and be myself around other people and not be worried about what other people think. I have also found that it has helped me meet new people and make new friends.”

The person that has seen the most development in Lee is his mother Janet who brings him to every session. When asked how Mixed Ability Rugby has had an impact on Lee, she said: “I think that Mixed Ability Rugby has really helped Lee find his feet. Over the past year I have seen a new side to Lee, he has become more confident and started to come out of his shell. It is a fantastic environment full of caring and patient individuals helping him to get fit, make new friends and play the sport he now loves.”

Sam Kerry, Community Coach for Yorkshire Carnegie, added: “When Lee first started his confidence and self-esteem was very low, he barely wanting to get involved and was quite a shy individual. As the sessions passed his confidence grew and so did the smile on his face. With this he started to engage more within the sessions. Having attended every session since the start he has become very passionate about the sport, even to the extent that he wants to now start contributing to the coaching of the side.”

Project Rugby is a grassroots project run by the RFU and Premiership Rugby to increase participation and opportunities for communities.

Project Rugby aims to reach more than 12,000 participants by providing accessible opportunities to play rugby in 200 community locations across England, transitioning new players and volunteers into local grassroots rugby clubs.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Project Rugby, contact Lisa.McCann@yorkshirecarnegie.com

For more information or to find out about a Project Rugby session near you, visit www.projectrugby.co.uk