IMART To Take Place In Cork From June 5-10
10th March 2022 By The Editor
It has been 4 years in the making, having fought off stiff competition from other would-be host countries, waited out a global pandemic, and spent endless hours working tirelessly with the EU, IRFU, Munster Rugby, Cork City Council, IMAS, and others in an effort to bring this event to Cork, but IMART 2022 is finally coming to Ireland.
The International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament (IMART) and Mixed Ability Week (MAW), which had originally been scheduled for June 2020, will be played in Cork between 5th & 10th of June 2022. This will be the 3rd edition of the worldwide Mixed Ability rugby showcase promoted by International Mixed Ability Sports (IMAS) and supported by the IRFU. The first ever MAW will see new sports like Football, Rowing and Boxing showcased, during this week knowledge workshops and international conference will provide the opportunity for this European Erasmus Plus for Sport supported event to spread the word and work of Mixed Ability Sports to a wider audience.
In the region of 1000 players both with and without disabilities, from 28 teams and 14 different countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Argentina and Chile will come together to play rugby under same World Rugby laws as the XV a side game with only minor adaptations such as uncontested scrums.
This year’s event is made extra special by the fact that it will host the first ever Women’s Mixed Ability Rugby tournament in Cork, sponsored by KPMG.
Speaking at the launch James Healy of IMART 2022 Committee and player said: “IMART 2022 will be the biggest tournament to date with 24 men’s teams competing for the overall Winners Trophy as well as the much-coveted Spirit Trophy and 4 women’s teams fighting it out to take home the inaugural winners and Spirit trophies .
“Not only it one of the most important events in the global mixed ability sporting calendar, but it is a major coup for Ireland and especially for Cork as it will provide a huge boost to the local economy.”
Munster captain, Peter O’Mahony, who is involved in IMART 2022 had this to say: “I’m proud to support the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament coming to Ireland for the first time. Mixed Ability gives everybody the opportunity to be a rugby player regardless of size, shape or ability. This is an incredible opportunity to celebrate our core values, welcoming teams from around the world to experience our legendary Irish hospitality!”
Alan Craughwell, founder of the first Mixed Ability rugby team in Ireland, ‘Sunday’s Well Rebels’, and of Mixed Ability Sports Ireland, spoke of the ethos of IMART and how it’s representation in Cork began,
“Mixed Ability rugby and Mixed Ability sports are providing real opportunities for people with and without disabilities to experience social inclusion. Sunday’s Well Rebels became part the rugby family at ‘The Well’ in 2014, when I approached the club with the idea. Since then, the team has flourished. From the early days of 13 players, we now have more than 50 active players. It is a great example of real inclusion to see players with and without disabilities training, playing and, of course, socialising alongside each other every Friday night and feeling like valued members of Sunday’s Well rugby club.”
The Mixed Ability Model – championed by IMAS and promoted by Mixed Ability Sports Ireland – encourages social inclusion by removing barriers to participation for people who feel unable to join mainstream grassroots clubs or groups due to physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues, size, shape, age, prolonged inactivity, or a perception of ‘not being good enough’. It is hoped that the IMART and MAW events in Cork this year will enhance interest, participation and interaction of people of all abilities in the sport across Ireland and beyond, and help to build new connections between grassroots clubs, educational institutions, communities and local authorities.
Liam Maher, Manager of the Sunday’s Well Rebels, spoke of their plans to showcase all that Cork has to offer to the 1000 strong participants, as well as organisers and spectators who will flock to the event,
“There has been a lot of work in the background – not just in preparing the bid for this global tournament, but in getting recognised for Mixed Ability Rugby as an official part of the rugby game. We have been working with the IRFU since the Rebels were set up in 2014, and thankfully we have recently received much-deserved recognition for this forward-thinking, inclusive and inspiring sport.
“Cork won the bid in part due to Ireland’s international reputation as a rugby powerhouse, but also because we have a reputation in Mixed Ability sport. Mixed Ability is about valuing everyone’s potential and celebrating what’s at the heart of true sport – participation, passion and fun!”
IMART, now at its 3rd edition, has become the ‘World Cup’ for Mixed Ability rugby clubs, and is the only international event where people of all abilities play together in the same un-adapted, mainstream 15-a-side game abiding by World Rugby Laws.
Following the huge success of the inaugural tournament in Bradford (UK) in 2015, and the most recent 2017 event which was held in Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Country in Spain, the event now moves to Cork for 2022.
The Tournament aims to promote participation in rugby and disseminate rugby´s core values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline, and respect.
The Cork Host
The staging of the event in Cork marks a significant achievement for Sunday’s Well RFC, who coordinated the bid, and acknowledges the leading role which the Club now plays in championing the sport.
A further exciting aspect of this week is the 1st MAW, which will introduce the mixed ability model to a variety of new sports through showcase events and open taster sessions along with an interactive conference programme featuring renowned speakers who will present and discuss the latest research around Mixed Ability sport across many disciplines, drawing on and including participants’ experiences.
International Mixed Ability Sports Director Martino Corazza welcomed the choice of Ireland as the host country.
“Cork is a fantastic city, with a great rugby tradition, and Sunday’s Well Rebels are one of the best brilliant examples of rugby clubs being truly representative of their local community. We are incredibly proud of this event and recognise that staging the tournament in 2022 will give enough time to the teams to put in place the necessary arrangements. We trust IMART & MAW 2022 will spread IMAS’ inclusive message far and wide and inspire many more individuals, clubs and National Governing Bodies to take up Mixed Ability.”
This week of Sport and Inclusion in Cork will have three main strands:
- The Sport Programmes, in which players from 14 different countries (and counting!) will take part in the 3rd International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament, competing for the two main trophies, the ‘Winners’ Cup’ and the ‘Spirit of Mixed Ability Rugby Trophy’ awarded to the team who best embodies rugby core values. For the first time, a Mixed Ability women’s tournament will run a parallel competition. The extended sports programme showcase and taster events, will also see the first international mixed ability Rowing Regatta and FAI-backed mixed ability Football blitz.
- The Academic Programme, in which internationally known speakers and researchers from the sport, education, health and advocacy fields will present their studies and research about paths to inclusion in sport for people of all abilities in a participatory and interactive environment.
- The Social Strand, in which concerts and post-match events will provide spaces to enjoy and share the best moments with teammates, players from the other teams and spectators.
Ultimately, IMART intends to promote a long-lasting shift in perceptions and behaviours around diversity, removing the barriers which prevent people of all abilities from enjoying mainstream sporting activities, using the power of rugby and education to make this world a better place.
Munster Rugby & Cope Foundation In Conversation
We are delighted to have Cope Foundation as our nominated charity partner for the season and recently released a four-part video series with the organisation.
Watch all four videos here.