17th November 2021
Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR), who claimed an historic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games this summer, has been awarded the hosting rights for the 2023 Wheelchair Rugby European Championship.
As Great Britain enjoys unprecedented success in wheelchair rugby, having claimed victory in the last three consecutive European Championships, the vision for the event is clear – to deliver the best European Championship ever! This will be achieved not just by producing the ultimate experience for athletes, fans, volunteers, and partners but by creating a legacy of more people playing, volunteering, and supporting the high impact, adrenaline packed game in Wales.
The eight-team event, which will be held in the iconic Principality Stadium in Cardiff from the 3-7 May 2023, will act as a qualifier for Paris 2024, with the top two teams automatically qualifying for the Paralympic Games.
Jim Roberts, GBWR gold medallist said:
“What a time for wheelchair rugby! I was honoured to represent GB in Tokyo this summer and to return home with a gold medal was amazing. Now to have GBWR showcase such a major event in my home country is just fantastic and I have no doubt that this is going to be brilliant for the sport I’ve spent so much time involved with. I don’t believe there is anywhere more passionate about rugby than Wales and our world class stadium will showcase wheelchair rugby at its very best. I am passionate about promoting the game and will be fully behind the community engagement planned as we aim to leave a true and lasting legacy in Wales.”
Community engagement and legacy were essential components of the winning bid and will form an important element in the lead up to, during, and post the Championships. The intention is to build on the development work of GB Wheelchair Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union to ensure a meaningful legacy with the tournament organisers working closely with the Welsh Government, Cardiff City Council, schools and colleges, the Welsh Rugby Union, Disability Sport Wales, UK Sport, and GBWR. Whilst helping the community to better understand the challenges faced by those who are disabled, a key focus will also be on inspiration and motivation, demonstrating that disability is no barrier to an individual achieving their dreams. Alongside the tournament will be a festival of entertainment which will include a celebrity wheelchair rugby match.</p>
The WRU and the Principality Stadium have been at the forefront of supporting the championship coming to Wales and being staged in the home of Welsh rugby. The stadium will give athletes an opportunity to perform in a venue which reflects their world standing as elite athletes in front of a passionate rugby-loving crowd!
The championship will be supported with grants from UK Sport, Welsh Government, and GB Wheelchair Rugby, and with partner support from WRU, Cardiff City Council, and Disability Sport Wales. An Event Delivery Board chaired by David Pond, former CEO of GBWR who led the team to victory in Tokyo and masterminded the successful bid, will be responsible for delivering the championship and will include former Wales rugby international Rupert Moon, Welsh Gold medal Paralympian swimmer Liz Johnson, and wheelchair rugby star Jim Roberts.