First match for NSW Physical Disability Rugby League Association

On Sunday 12th December 2010 at Cabramatta Sportsground a historical match took place between the Western Sydney Outlaws and the Eastern Sydney Stingrays. The match was the first time two physically disabled rugby league teams played against one another. Physical Disability Rugby League incorporates rules from both tackle and tag versions of the game with matches being played over two periods of thirty-minute halves with a ten-minute half-time break.

The match itself was organised to help trial a set of modified rules in game conditions to see how those with various disabilities would adapt.

The match was played in front of a small but vocal crowd and included onlookers such as Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) Development Officer Tas Baiteri and various coaching staff from the Cabramatta Blues Rugby League Club. The day proved a success and provided a thrilling match with the score ending in a 24-all draw.

The referee for the match Dominic Paton was positive in his thoughts about the match. "The game was played in exactly the right spirit and I thought the game rules worked really well", he said.

Chairman of the New South Wales Physical Disability Rugby League Association (NSWPDRLA); George Tonna, was proud of the efforts of those who made the day possible. "Overall I think the day was a success. We [the NSWPDRLA] have only had a committee up and running now for a few months and I believe we can continue to progress further and attract more interest. We have come up with a new concept in sport for those with various disabilities to participate in rugby league and today was a huge step in achieving that", Tonna said.

Baiteri was pleased with what he saw on the day and is positive with what the sport can achieve in the near future. "Our next step would be the International 9's here at Cabramatta in February to have an exhibition game and see how much progress we have made since then", he said. The NSWPDRLA intends to hold an exhibition match on Saturday February 5th, 2011 at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta.

Tonna was also thrilled by responses received on the day. "I have spoken to the players and they have already been asking when the next event will be held. We also received good feedback from Dominic Paton (Referee), Tas Baiteri and Brad Cooke from The Barefoot Rugby League Show who will air a feature story on us next year", he said.

"It was great to see how happy the players were playing 'the greatest game of all' and I personally look forward to the day when we start our competition knowing all the hard work we have accomplished in setting up a committee and establishing the association", Tonna added.

Tonna thanked those who helped make the day a success. "I would like to thank Dominic Paton, Tas Baiteri, John Wilson from the New South Wales Rugby League Western Sydney Academy (NSWRLWSA), The Barefoot Rugby League Show and all the supporters for turning up today and for their continued support. I would also like to thank David Smith and the Cabramatta Blues Rugby League Club for providing us with equipment and letting us use their facilities.

"I understand there is a lot of work still to do but this would not have been possible if not for the passionate committee working under me to establish rugby league for those with physical disabilities in New South Wales and other states of Australia. The NSWPDRLA and I look forward to seeing the dream of a Physical Disability Rugby League competition up and running within the next six to twelve months", Tonna concluded.

The NSWPDRLA still requires interested parties, both who possess and do not possess physical disabilities who would like to be part of this new frontier in sport. The sport is looking for individuals with Cerebral Palsy as well as upper and lower amputees, stroke victims and those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Interested persons can participate not only as players but in a number of roles including as coaches, trainers and officials, touch judges and referees who can assist in running the competition.

If you are interested in participating in the development of Physical Disability Rugby League or know someone with a physical disability who may be interested, you can contact the NSWPDRLA via email at nswpdrl@yahoo.com.au.

WESTERN SYDNEY OUTLAWS
14. Che Fornusek
6. David Grech
11. John Odgers
10. Eddie Sharp
13. Jonathan Smith
12. George Tonna

EASTERN SYDNEY STINGRAYS
24. Matt Aguirre
9. James Campbell
6. Isaak Di Francesco
11. Keenan Di Francesco
3. Marik Gleizer
19. Steven Yates

MATCH SUMMARY
WESTERN SYDNEY OUTLAWS 24
Tries (5): George Tonna 2, John Odgers, Eddie Sharpe, Johnathan Smith
Goals (2): David Grech (1 from 2), George Tonna (1 from 3)

EASTERN SYDNEY STINGRAYS 24
Tries (5): James Campbell 4, Keenan Di Francesco
Goals (2): Marik Gleizer (2 from 5)

Venue: Cabramatta Sports Ground
Crowd: 50
Referee: Dominic Paton




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