RFL releases dividend report to highlight value of Disabled Rugby League
The social value of Rugby League for people with disabilities has been underlined by a dividend report released today by Rugby Football League – the third in a series of social and/or economic impact studies of the Rugby League.
It follows the 2019 Rugby League Dividend Report and ‘These Girls Can – The Wider Impacts of the Growth of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League’ which was published last year – with the research at again conducted by the Institute of Sport at Manchester Metropolitan University.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL RUGBY LEAGUE DIVIDEND REPORT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.
The key findings are that for every £1 invested in Wheelchair Rugby League, there is a social return of £3.39. It’s slightly higher, at £4.10 for Physical Disability Rugby League and £3.48 for Learning Disability Rugby League.
The figures for investment by players and their families, as opposed to other stakeholders such as volunteers, RFL and sponsors, are even starker – with a social return calculated at £9.84 for every 1 investment £.
But as pointed out in the forewords by Adam Hills MBE – the Australian comedian who plays PDRL for Warrington Wolves – and John Hughes of Community Integrated Care, the RFL social partners who sponsor the Learning Disability Super League, the Disability Rugby League benefits go well. beyond those that can be calculated.
“From a personal perspective, I have seen the Physical Disability Rugby League improve people’s physical and mental health, create community for people who may not have one and give people with physical disabilities the chance to experience some things that able-bodied people often take for granted,” Hills writes.
“As you read this report, you’ll see facts and figures, counts and charts, and lots of facts. But everyone who plays Disability Rugby League – whether it’s a physical disability, a learning disability or playing in a wheelchair – has a story like mine. The story of a better quality of life, a happier temperament, better health.
For people with disabilities, sport is like a public building. All we ask for is a way in.
John Hughes writes: “It was an enlightening experience when Community Integrated Care first invested in Rugby League. This is frankly not what caregivers normally do. As a charity, it’s so important that we use our resources responsibly to make an impact, and I felt we could do that in Rugby League, because of the values it stands for.
“I never could have imagined how big things could get. Right now though, all I can see are possibilities. This publication is the first chapter of what we will accomplish together, not the final volume.
Through interviews with players and others involved in all three forms of disability rugby league, the report provides figures under four headings: increased confidence and self-esteem; Physical and mental well-being; Expand social circles and connect families; and Perception of disability.
Of the players surveyed:
- 82% said they had improved their self-confidence through their participation in Rugby League;
- 91% said their life had improved;
- 90% of players said they achieved things they never thought possible before playing Disability Rugby League, demonstrating that the sport offers opportunities to achieve goals big or small;
- 88% of PDRL players and 92% of Wheelchair RL players surveyed said they would be less active if they couldn’t play Rugby League;
- 91% of Disability Rugby League players said the sport had provided new opportunities and experiences;
- 97% have made new friends through their participation, indicating the positive impact the Disability Rugby League has had on reducing levels of loneliness and isolation among its players; and
- 88% of PDRL players say playing Rugby League has changed the way they think about their disability.
Dr Nicolas Scelles, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute of Sport, said: “As the Official University Partner of the Rugby League World Cup 2021, we were delighted to contribute to this important report, which highlights the difference rugby league is making to the way people with disabilities access the sport. and in the way people think about their disability.
“Our research demonstrates how the Disability Rugby League generates positive social outcomes for players with disabilities, their families, volunteers and society at large.”
Chris Godfrey, RFL National Inclusion Director, commented: “The findings of this report are very important to the future travel and growth of the disabled variants of Rugby League. The figures attached to benefits are not only staggering, almost £13 per pound on some measures, but reflect how holistically Rugby League offers to the lives of disabled participants.
“The implications of these findings will contribute to the sustainability of the game in every way and will prove, without a doubt, the impact of Rugby League on one of the most underrepresented groups in the sporting landscape. Ultimately, these results will enable more people with disabilities to improve their lives through participation in Rugby League.
Ralph Rimmer, RFL’s chief executive, writes in the introduction to the report: “The timing of this report is good as we look forward to hosting the Rugby League World Cup in England. It will be the most inclusive ever, giving Wheelchair Rugby League an unprecedented national platform to celebrate athleticism and the personal stories of players – and now with a four-team PDRL demo event too. included in the program.
“The Learning Disability Rugby League also has strong links to the World Cup, through Community Integrated Care’s inclusive volunteer program supported by Sport England – and one of the most memorable occasions so far in 2022 has been produced at St Helens community club Portico Vine when a number of LDRL stars took to the stage at one of the stunning new facilities funded by the CreatedBy World Cup program to explain how the Rugby League had transformed and enriched their lives.
“I challenge anyone not to take inspiration from reading the Disability Rugby League Dividend, whether it’s a quick film or a detailed study. And as John Hughes says in his foreword, the most exciting thing is that this is just the beginning.
Further MMU studies on the social and/or economic impact of Rugby League can be found on the RFL website.
For more information on the work the Leeds Rhinos Foundation is doing to support Disability Rugby League – with our Wheelchair, PDRL and LDSL teams – click here.