MORE steps are being taken to improve access to rugby for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Gosford All Blacks began offering SEND-friendly sessions for children aged between four and 17 in March, with those proving to be a rip-roaring success.

Earlier this month, a disability inclusion awareness course was held at Gosford All Blacks, and attended by coaches and volunteers from Oxfordshire RFU, Witney RFC and Wallingford RFC.

READ ALSO: Petr Cech on return to city that saved his life and special Kassam Stadium memory

This latest stage, which aims to lead to the creation of a county-wide inclusive network, was welcomed by Darren Rea, who was instrumental in setting up the SEND sessions earlier in the year.

He told this newspaper: “The sessions ran through March to June, and they went massively well.

“We increased the numbers and the growth was a lot bigger than we thought it would be.

“The feedback has been very eye-opening and there are a lot of things to educate on and learn.

“The feedback we’ve been getting is that the children have been enjoying it and want to come back.

“We have kids coming from 30 or 40 miles, with parents saying there’s nothing for them in their area at the moment.

“Because this is a SEND provision, the kids have the free space to run about without any concerns. It ticks a lot of boxes for mental and physical health.”

Oxford Mail: Click here to sign up to the Oxford United newsletter Click here to sign up to the Oxford United newsletter (Image: Newsquest)

Rebecca Webber, a parent who took part in the sessions with her son, said: “I’ve not been able to find any other sports activities specifically for kids with special educational needs in the area and I’m so grateful that Gosford All Blacks have set this one up.

“The coaches are so patient and encouraging and everyone is really welcoming. My little boy loves the sessions and I hope they keep growing so more children can benefit from the support offered by Gosford All Blacks.”

Jessica Harrison, access sport Oxfordshire manager at Active Oxfordshire, added: “Gosford All Blacks are a great example of the benefits of working alongside families to create a SEND-friendly session that works for them and their children.

“Fun rugby is the main factor but alongside this you see teamwork, communication skills and the participants’ confidence soar.”

On the awareness course and creation of an inclusive county network, she added: “The inclusive rugby network has allowed rugby clubs from across the county and beyond to come together, develop learning and improve practice.”

If anyone is interested in volunteering to support the initiative, or is keen on more information, please email

Help support trusted local news 

Sign up for a digital subscription now:

As a digital subscriber you will get: 

  • Unlimited access to the Oxford Mail website 
  • Advert-light access 
  • Reader rewards 
  • Full access to our app