Preston Grasshoppers Ladies 1st XV is to host England Deaf Women’s squad at Lightfoot Green on March 24th.
It won’t be the first time the club has played host to England teams at Hoppers or that many of its past players have been selected to represent national teams.
The showcase event for women’s rugby will see Hoppers’ Women 1st XV, who are sitting well placed in the NC1 North West leagues, pit their wits against England Deaf Women who are undefeated in their preparations for the World Deaf 7s series in Australia later this year.
Steve Tiernan, Head Coach of Preston Grasshoppers Women’s Rugby, said: “This promises to be a competitive game between two very good sides. We even have a bit of extra edge in that Ladies’ 1st XV player Christina Tully is facing her club side in an England strip so I’m positive the game will be entertaining. Fundamentally it is a proud day for everyone at the club to be able to host this fixture.
“We have an active flourishing ladies section at Hoppers and we have to be thankful to our sponsor, Whittles Jewellers for its support. We’re a welcoming and friendly club so if there are any women that are interested in playing, then this would be a great occasion to come and see what you can be part of.”
The England Deaf Rugby Union (EDRU) was set up to enable deaf and hard of hearing people to come together to enjoy the sport of rugby union, as well as allowing them the opportunity to represent their country. To be eligible, players must be deaf or hard of hearing, but do not have to have complete hearing loss. To qualify, players need to have a combined average hearing loss of 25db or more in both ears.
Whilst many players usually wear hearing aids, it is the rules of International Deaf rugby that hearing aids are not worn during an international match. IRB rules state that a player may not wear any communication devices, which includes a hearing aid, although new rules have been put in place to allow cochlear implants.
As such, the Laws of the deaf game are exactly the same as we are used to, although visual signals are utilised for the setting of the scrum.
Preston Grasshoppers already have two representatives in the EDRU as Men’s 1st XV Prop Pete Altham and Ladies 1st XV player Christina Tully both regularly represent their respective England Deaf sides.
The game will also be played on the new RFU Rugby 365 floodlit artificial grass pitch which was officially launched by England Head Coach Eddie Jones in December 2016.
The new pitch was funded by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), as part of a £50 million national initiative.
Kick-off is at 1.00pm and the game is also being streamed live here – https://livestream.com/EnglandDeafRugby/EnglandDeafWomenvsPrestonGrasshoppersLadies