Three members of Dragons ALLSTARS - our successful mixed ability provision - have been given the prestigious honour of being called up for the first-ever Mixed Ability Barbarians team.
Gareth Sullivan, Connor Rice and Gary Thomas have been named in the squad to face Llanelli Warriors at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday, July 24.
The squad will be made up of players and coaches from around the rugby world to follow in the famous tradition of the Barbarians team.
The game is being played to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Llanelli Warriors and regular fixtures for the Mixed Ability Barbarians are planned around the globe when restrictions allow.
Gareth Sullivan, Community Inclusion Officer at Dragons, said: “I’ve had the immense honour of building the ALLSTARS together with Dragons and sponsors New York Welsh over the past three years and watched the growth of our squad, both on and off the field.
“To say I will be honoured and humbled to share the privilege of pulling the mixed ability Barbarians shirt on home soil in Wales in their inaugural fixture really doesn’t do it justice.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for mixed ability players from around the world to showcase this amazing provision and to be part of the biggest club side in mixed ability history.”
Connor Rice said: “It's a great pleasure to represent a new inclusive club. The Barbarians name is held in high regard within the rugby community and I’m hoping to do myself and my teammates proud when I put the jersey on.”
Gary Thomas added: “I’m hugely proud to represent the first mixed ability Barbarians’ team. Rugby was always something I loved, but I was never confident enough to try playing until I was introduced to mixed ability rugby. I’m living out my dreams and part of something I am sure will be a long successful history in the making.”
The Dragons ALLSTARS consists of both a male and female mixed ability rugby team. The provision was established to provide opportunities for disabled and non-disabled players to play contact or non-contact rugby together. All abilities are welcome as training sessions and games are tailored and conditioned to suit everyone’s needs and abilities.
Dragons along with Ty Francis MBE, Marc Walby and Gwilym Roberts-Harry from New York Welsh – long-term sponsors of our ALLSTARS provision – have added support by sponsoring the trio for the game.
“We’re all really proud of the progress the Dragons Mixed Ability provision has made over the past few years and the initiative continues to grow generate success after success,” said Ty Francis, co-founder and chair at New York Welsh.
“The acorn we all planted is now a mighty Barbarian oak and I couldn’t be happier to support this inclusion journey together with New York Welsh, alongside Gareth, Mike and the ALLSTARS team.”
Jamie Evans, founder of the Mixed Ability Barbarians, added: “Coming from a simple conversation in a bar in Samoa, on tour with the Llanelli Warriors, to the point we are at now is incredible.
“The support I’ve had setting up the side has been massive, and you can see, even before our first fixture, that the Mixed Ability Barbarians is going to be huge!
“Bringing players and coaches from all over the world together, to play the game we all love, is such a good feeling and I can’t wait to see what the future of the Mixed Ability Barbarians holds.
“The game in July is going to be a special day, but it won’t be the last. With plans already in the mix for the second fixture, it is exciting times.”
Mike Sage, Community Manager at Dragons Rugby, admitted everyone was extremely proud of the progress and impact of inclusion rugby across our region.
“The Dragons ALLSTARS has been our flagship provision and has paved the way for many more to follow,” he said.
“The growth of the ALLSTARS has been amazing and now to see three of our players gain the accolade of becoming Mixed Ability Barbarians makes our Dragons Family feel really, really proud.
“We congratulate and wish Conor, Gary and our very own Gareth the best of luck in the upcoming historic fixture and we hope to all be there cheering you all on.”
For more information on the Dragons ALLSTARS click HERE
The growth of the ALLSTARS has been amazing and now to see three of our players gain the accolade of becoming Mixed Ability Barbarians makes our Dragons Family feel really, really proud...