One Year of Physical Disability Rugby League

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Adam Hills lifts the PDRL World Club Challenge trophy for the Warrington Wolves. Credit: Warrington Wolves

The first match in the history of Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) took place just over a year ago. Last Word on Rugby looks at what this concept has achieved and future plans.

What is Physical Disability Rugby League?

PDRL is a nine-a-side version of the game with two 25 minute halves but drop goals and scrums are not permitted. Two of the players can be able-bodied who are not allowed to score, kick or run more than 10 metres. Another two of the team are not allowed to be tackled, wearing red shorts indicating so.

Players have a range of disabilities including limb deficiencies, brain injuries and visual impairments.

The able-bodied players have included former professionals such as Garry Schofield and Barrie McDermott and can potentially even out the playing field.

Some players will wear bibs indicating they are not allowed to be tackled.

How was it created?

Already a concept for six years in Australia, comedian Adam Hills brought the idea over to the UK. The South Sydney Rabbitohs fan had seen the  success in his native country and thought it could work in England.

He set up the inaugural match between Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos at Victoria Park.

Hills played for the hosts and fellow comedian Alex Brooker turned out for the Rhinos. Check out the best of the action here. 

Many other NRL clubs run PDRL teams including West Tigers, Manly Sea Eagles and New Zealand Warriors.

What has been achieved

Since the first game many other teams have also been created. They include Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity and Widnes Vikings whose club foundations run the PDRL teams.

The teams often play matches at the ground of the Super League or Championship team they are affiliated with. This means players have been able to emulate their heroes by playing at iconic venues like Headingley.

Warrington also competed in the first PDRL World Club Challenge in Australia against the Rabbitohs.

The World Club Challenge is traditionally a match between the Grand Final winners in both Australia and England. It has been played in the able-bodied version of the game since 1987.

Warrington triumphed 34-12 in the historic ANZ Stadium to become champions.

Future plans

There is potential for an England PDRL team to compete at the 2021 World Cup staged in England featuring New Zealand and Australia. 

This possibility would be something else to aim for and would bring further exposure to the disability game on a global level. 

Main image credit: Warrington Wolves

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