Parliament visit for England Deaf rugby team

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THE England Deaf team helped to raise awareness of deaf rugby during a recent trip to the Houses of Parliament.  Around 20 players and officials from the England Deaf Rugby Union, including two members of the England Deaf Women’s team, visited Parliament as part of a day of activities organised by Parliament’s Outreach Service in partnership with the British Deaf Association.

The England Deaf rugby party were welcomed to Parliament by Stephen Lloyd MP, chair of the Parliamentary Group on Deafness, and the visit was also supported by Andrew Griffiths, the Conservative MP for Burton, Mark Pawsey, the Conservative MP for Rugby, Glynn Davies, the Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, Dame Anne Begg, Labour MP for Aberdeen South, Ian Davidson, Labour MP for Glasgow South, Jim Fitzpatrick, the Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, and Lord Addington.

Lord Addington and Nick Banton, a House of Commons information officer, who are both members of the Commons and Lords rugby team, then gave the England Deaf party a behind-the-scenes tour of both Houses of Parliament.

The England Deaf party also attended a deaf awareness session at the Abbey Centre in Westminster.

“England Deaf Rugby Union and members of the England Deaf Rugby team were very pleased to be invited to tour the Houses of Parliament,” said Lyndon James, secretary of EDRU.

“Parliament and politicians are making great strides towards becoming deaf aware and responsive to the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community and EDRU is anxious to support this initiative.  Very special thanks to Lord Addington who not only provided an outstanding tour but also took time to present a cap to Paul Cooper of Thames RFC along with Mark Pawsey MP.  The whole day was hugely enjoyed and the England Deaf players and staff attending were provided with a better understanding of the work of Parliament.”

England Deaf will again play home and away internationals against their Wales counterparts this season with two warm-up matches against Leicestershire Police at South Leicester RFC on Sunday November 30 (1.30pm) and the RAF at RAF Brize Norton next month.  The match against Leicestershire Police will also help to raise awareness of the work being carried out by Police Link Officers for Deaf People (PLODs) in the Leicester area.

Among the new players likely to face Leicestershire Police is Jake O’Leary, an 18-year-old lock from Henley Hawks, who is the son of former Wasps stalwart Sean O’Leary.

The England Deaf Rugby Union was formed in 2003 to provide opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing rugby players to play for their country.

Players are eligible to play for England Deaf and the England Deaf Rugby Union for Women if they have a combined hearing loss of 25db or more in both ears. This roughly translates to a minimum hearing loss in both ears or a moderate hearing loss in one ear but with normal hearing in the other.  Not all of the players wear hearing aids or only communicate by sign language and this has never stopped all the players communicating and playing rugby as a squad.

EDRU offers Deaf Awareness advice to clubs and schools to help integrate deaf and hard of hearing players.