THE West Cork Jesters will take on the best teams in the world at the 2020 Mixed Ability Rugby World Cup Tournament that is being held in Cork this summer.
Twenty-eight teams from 14 countries and 1,000 players will descend on Cork in June for the competition.
This is the first time that the West Cork Jesters will compete in the World Cup, and they’re sending a men’s team while also teaming up with Ballincollig Trailblazers in the women’s section.
The West Cork club is up and running two years and it’s growing stronger each year, explains trainer Nobby Dunne.
‘Mixed ability rugby is normal rugby with only one slight difference in the laws – that is that the scrums are non-contested. Otherwise, it’s normal rugby,’ he said.
‘This is a sport for people of all abilities. There is this misconception that it’s for people with disabilities, but that’s not true, this is for people of all abilities.
‘That’s the ethos behind it, we are focussing on what people are able to do, so anyone of any ability can play it.’
The inclusion aspect of the sport is very important, and in mixed ability teams, players with and without physical and learning disabilities play together in the same 15-a-side rugby game abiding by World Rugby laws.
There has been great support locally for the West Cork Jesters, who discovered on Monday that they have been drawn in Pool B for the World Cup alongside The Clan (Scotland), Gaztedi (Spain) and Halifax Magpies (England).
‘From a geographical perspective, the West Cork Jesters cover the geographical area of four mainstream rugby clubs – Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Dunmanway and Bantry,’ Dunne said.
‘All of those clubs are right behind us in every single way.
‘We have a match on Sunday week against the Clonakilty Veterans, and they have been so good to us. They will be supplying some of their players to help us in the World Cup drive as well.
‘Dunmanway have already offered the use of their facilities, as have Skibbereen, and of course Bantry Bay were involved from the very beginning helping to set the club up.’
Excitement is building ahead of the World Cup as the West Cork Jesters test themselves against the best teams in the world, and they can’t wait.
‘This is very big, it’s like a World Cup in other sport, whether it be mainstream rugby, soccer or table tennis. This is the pinnacle,’ Dunne said, explaining why they took the decision to enter the World Cup.
‘When we formed two years ago, it was as a tag rugby team. Last year we attended an international event called the Wooden Spoon in Northern Ireland. We fielded two teams and we won everything.
‘The players wanted a greater challenge so we went looking for one, and we took on the ultimate challenge – full-contact mixed ability rugby. It was a huge step and it is much more competitive but the Jesters are all up for it.’
Training three times a week, the West Cork Jesters are counting down the days until the World Cup kicks off on June 7th, with Sunday’s Well Rugby Club as the hosts for the week-long tournament.
Nobby Dunne has also called on local businesses to get involved and show their support for the West Cork Jesters.
‘We are in the process of looking for a major sponsor. The level of sponsorship we are looking for is a couple of sets of proper kits. We need them for both our men’s and ladies’ squads,’ he explained.