England Deaf RFU and Exeter Deaf Academy showcased a variety of Deaf Rugby talent at a special event on Thursday 22nd October, marking the first step towards Exeter becoming a South West centre of excellence for the sport.

The launch event, at Exeter Deaf Academy on Topsham Road in Exeter, brought England Men and Women’s players, local coaches and players from the Deaf Academy, together to encourage more Deaf people to experience the game of rugby. As well as demonstrating the skills of the players, tips were given to the coaches by Deaf Academy staff on how they could support Deaf players at their own clubs.

Harry Westlake, who lives in Plymouth and rose to fame after outshining England Rugby players with his rousing performance of the national anthem, was special guest on the day. Harry is six and not only is he an avid rugby player and fan, but is also twenty percent deaf in both ears. Harry and his Dad, Kevin, are eager to use Harry’s new found fame to promote participation in rugby across Devon, particularly to those who are deaf and disabled.

Kevin said, “Both Harry and I are incredibly proud to be assisting both England Deaf Rugby and Exeter Deaf Academy. Raising the profile of rugby is very important to us both, but being able to promote disability in sport, especially in rugby is very special. The work that England Deaf and the Deaf Academy do is outstanding, so supporting them is a pleasure.”

Having now showcased Deaf Rugby at Exeter Deaf Academy, the plan is to host future events at local clubs to strengthen the link between the South West and the Deaf RFU. These sessions will be open to the wider community to get involved and will provide an opportunity for the RFU to spot emerging talent.

The next England Deaf Rugby event is hoped to go ahead in February 2016. If you would like to be involved in Deaf Rugby in the South West, or if you know anyone else who would, please contact Community Rugby Coach Wayne on waynereed@rfu.com for more information.