Tag Archives: Ryan Jones

Visually Impaired Rugby in Japan!

Visually Impaired Rugby in Japan

The image above: Si Ledwith carries against the ‘Blind Blacks’ in 2017, the series that launched VI rugby (QBE)

Visually impaired rugby joins the World Cup party as England face Japan in Kumagaya

original article by  www.rugbyworld.com

Fancy a bit of rugby? Then close your eyes and picture this: the smell of freshly cut grass; the roar of the crowd; running full pelt down the field; the touchline almost in reach; your winger just to your right; the heavy footsteps of the opposing defender bearing down on you.

Now, open just one eye slightly, squint tightly, and try your best to catch that ball hurtling towards you while avoiding that other defender coming at you headlong even faster!

That may give you an inkling of an idea as to what teams playing visually impaired rugby face each time they take to the field. And on Monday, visually impaired (VI) rugby will hit the world stage as part of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

In recent years, The Change Foundation (TCF) in the UK, with its visually impaired coaches and players, has developed VI rugby as a seven-a-side touch version, played with an adapted ball that makes a noise to help players locate it when it’s moving.

In partnership with the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation, TCF established the first VI rugby teams in England and launched the game with a series between the ‘Blind Lions’ and the ‘Blind Blacks’ in New Zealand during the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour.

On 14 October, which is a National Holiday of Sport and Health, the Visually Impaired Rugby Festival will feature a three-match series between England and Japan at Kumagaya Stadium.

England VI team. Top (from left): Si Ledwith, Jack Pearce, Dan Linekar (coach), Ryan Jones, Christopher Styles. Bottom: Gareth Davies, Alex Bassan (head coach), Mathew Lancett (TCF)
Ready to go: the England VI team. Top (from left): Si Ledwith, Jack Pearce, Dan Linekar (coach), Ryan Jones, Christopher Styles. Bottom: Gareth Davies, Alex Bassan (head coach), Mathew Lancett (TCF)

The Change Foundation will also be showcasing VI rugby as part of the Festival of Rugby that is running throughout the World Cup. The finale is a match between a combined Japan and England Visually Impaired team and a Wasps Legends team captained by former England and Lions lock Simon Shaw and including ex-France flanker Serge Betsen.

“I’m delighted to be able to support this brilliant cause by putting the boots on in Japan,” Shaw says. “The Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation have done a great job supporting the development of this new form of the game. It’s brilliant that the rugby family is reaching out to players who up to now thought they could never play our great game.”

The England VI team includes a Welshman, Gareth Davies, who was diagnosed in his teens with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition that causes tunnel vision. He now has just 10% vision in his left eye. “I was born in Wiltshire but my dad Dwyfor is a Welsh speaker from Ystalyfera and my late mum was from Clydach and I’ve lived in Wales for more than 20 years,” he told the BBC last year.

Also in the team is Si Ledwith, who was instrumental in creating the sport, as Rugby World reported two years ago. He told us then: “Our overall goal was to make the game look and feel as much like mainstream rugby as possible whilst still being accessible. So we have scrums and lineouts but they’re uncontested. We still create the patterns and scenarios of rugby but take away some of the danger.

“We’ve not reinvented the wheel. It’s based around rugby sevens, two-handed touch, but we’ve developed a ball that has some sound, both in hand when running and in the air when passed. We simply filled it with a thousand ball bearings so that it rattles.”

New Zealand’s Cory Herberley in action.
Blind ambition: New Zealand’s Cory Herberley in action. Now VI rugby will be played in Japan (QBE)

to play rugby at school on account of his visual impairment – he was born blind in his left eye and very short-sighted in his right. His sight was restricted still further by an accident on the cricket field in 2015, the ball hitting him in the eye and causing a brain haemorrhage that rendered him totally blind for two weeks.

“Fortunately the blood drained away but I can’t see anywhere near what I used to. I’m one of the lowest-sighted in the team and I was on the left wing because I can only see out of my right eye. You might have one of the tunnel-vision guys slightly wider so he can look across the line and communicate to those who aren’t seeing the line as well. It’s an interesting dynamic and the referee is key because he’s kind of a commentator.”

VI rugby ambassadors Andy Robinson and Ian McKinley have helped prepare the team for Japan. Robinson’s father was blind and had matches audio described while McKinley lost an eye following injury in 2011 but went on to play for Benetton and Italy. McKinley plans to take the field at TCF’s showcase event in 2020, the VI Rugby Six Nations demonstration event.

Throughout next year, TCF will work with each of the Six Nations teams to develop the sport in their countries. In England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, TCF will work with the home unions to select a ‘Blind Lions’ team to travel to South Africa to play the ‘Blind Boks’ during the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour.



Ryan Jones in running the London Marathon 2016 for ELVis!

ELVis is joining in on the fun of the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon, with Ryan Jones as our runner

Earlier this year we successfully secured a place for the 2016 Virgin London Marathon! We are pleased to announce that Ryan Jones is the lucky athlete who has been chosen to run for us with his guide runner Tim Hampton.

Ryan has won numerous accolades as a sportsman; he has represented the England Blind cricket team at the 2014 blind Cricket World Cup in South Africa and continues to play for the Metro blind cricket team. He is an avid runner and can often be seen pounding the streets of Bermondsey.

In his first Marathon Ryan achieved the immaculate time of 4 hours 28 minutes. However, the high-achieving Jones would like to smash that target for East London Vision.

We caught up with Ryan, who said:

“Being vision impaired I am aware of many of the challenges face by blind and partially sighted people, such as going to buy the weekly shop at the supermarket. I have chosen to run for ELVis because I know the difference support can make in improving independence for blind and partially sighted people.

Having run a marathon 2 years ago, I feel like I can use that experience to achieve a better time. I will train hard, however in order for me to complete such a challenge, your support will be vital, so anything you can donate would be gratefully appreciated!”

Tim, aged 24, who works for Westminster City Council is an enthusiastic runner and will be Ryan’s guide on the day. Whilst Tim has only completed a half marathon and a few smaller charity runs he’s raring for opportunity to test his mettle on the streets of London. When talking to Tim about the challenge ahead he said:

“Running such a well-known marathon is an exciting prospect for me and knowing I’m supporting a really deserving charity motivates me to pull on my running shoes and brave the cold to train.

It’ll be a significant personal challenge and test of character but I feel privileged to be doing my part for ELVis at the London Marathon and I hope with your support we can have a real positive impact on partially sighted and blind people.”

Please support Tim by donating to his My Donate page.

Both Ryan and Tim will be supported along the way with pre-marathon training from Jeffrey Darko, manager of Physique Trans4mers. Jeffrey has trained professional cricket players and aided football coaching for under 21’s for local teams.

So we know the boys are in safe hands for training. Jeffrey said:

“I’ve been a personal trainer for several years now, but being approached to train a marathon runner is an exciting and challenging opportunity. I am determined to help Ryan and Tim achieve their personal best, while making sure they suffer no injuries during training sessions and on the big day.

Helping a charity such as ELVis who raise much needed awareness for blind and partially sighted people is a matter that is close to my heart, making the work I am doing with the boys that extra bit special and personal.”

Remember the more money we raise, the more people living with sight loss we can help.  Every penny we raise goes towards improving the quality of life of Vision impaired people, so any donation will be appreciated.

Please donate to Ryan’s Virgin Money Giving page.

We have set ourselves an ambitious target to raise at least £2,500 and to help us get there we are hugely grateful to our sole runner Ryan Jones – who, being blind himself, is running with the assistance of Tim Hampton his guide runner during the event.

You can help us smash our target by either donating to Ryan’s Virgin Money Giving page or Tim’s My Donate page.

You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and our blog to keep up-to-date with Ryan and Tim’s journey to the finish line!  You can also follow Ryan’s progress over at his personal twitter account: www.twitter.com/RAJURyan93

Thank you for reading and we hope you will make a contribution to our work to make a difference to blind and partially sighted people across east London.