Oran Spain recently returned from playing with the Irish national team at the Rugby League Wheelchair World Cup in England. Despite being only 16 years old, Oran got to pull on the Irish jersey and play alongside some of the best wheelchair rugby players in the world. Oran is from Kildare and attends the Enable Ireland’s children’s services team there.
“Initially, I just went over to England to watch the games but then I ended up playing for Ireland. I’m only 16 and you had to be 18 to play but I really wanted to play and I was delighted when they gave me a chance.
Putting on the Ireland jersey and playing for Ireland was an amazing feeling. It’s what I have always dreamed of. Rugby is my first love. I’m a huge fan of rugby and a big supporter of the Leinster and Irish rugby teams. I wasn’t nervous lining up for Ireland but I was really excited.
The world cup is the highest level you can play at. You are competing against the best opponents in the world. It was really incredible to be there and to be able to play against these world-class teams. The first match I played in was against Wales, even though we lost we did really well and improved on our previous performance. I scored a try as well!
I also play wheelchair basketball with Killester Wheelchair Basketball Club and one of the coaches there got me involved in wheelchair rugby league. I had one trial, one training session and one match before I went over. At the moment, most of the players on the Irish team are based in England. There are only three of us who are based in Ireland and we really want to grow the sport over here and encourage more people, both wheelchair users and non-disabled people, to get involved in the sport.
We will have the Celtic Cup coming up in May of 2023. That’s Ireland, Wales and Scotland playing against each other. I’d love to play for Ireland again in that competition and we are hoping it will take place in Ireland. We really want to get others interested in taking part and giving the sport a try. I’d encourage anyone considering it to give it a go.”
Wheelchair rugby league is an inclusive sport with both disabled and non-disabled people welcome to compete, and both men and women can play in the same team. If you are interested in getting involved in wheelchair rugby league in Ireland please contact Mr Jim Reynolds, Chairman Rugby League Ireland (RLI), firstname.lastname@example.org.