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Who are Liverpool Lions?

Liverpool Lions, the only club in the UK to train in all three types of wheelchair rugby, are building a new Paralympic style rugby team. Fish Insurance will be following the team’s journey, and we caught up with manager Martin Beddis to find out more about Liverpool Lions.

Martin Beddis is player manager of the England Wheelchair 7s Rugby Union team and a keen sportsman. Having played for various wheelchair rugby teams since 2008, he made the decision in 2012 to set up a Wheelchair Rugby League team. After receiving backing from various charities and support from St Helens Rugby League, Liverpool Lions was born. Today it has both Wheelchair Rugby League and Wheelchair 7s Rugby Union teams and is now establishing a Wheelchair Rugby (Paralympic) team, making Liverpool Lions the only club in the UK to train in all three types of wheelchair rugby.

Martin explains: “Rugby League is based on tag rugby and players must have a lot of upper body strength and a range of movement. That and Wheelchair 7s are inclusive sports, meaning they are not disability specific and we have a mixture of able-bodied players and those with a disability. However, we were getting lots of players turning up who had a level of disability that was more suitable for the Paralympic version of wheelchair rugby and we were having to turn them away.”

Although Martin was referring the players to other Paralympic teams nearby, he wanted to keep them within the Liverpool Lions family and decided to look into the possibility of creating a Liverpool Lions Wheelchair Rugby (Paralympic) team. He says: “I put the feelers out and the response was positive, so I organised chairs and equipment, which is insured by Fish Insurance. Equipment is expensive and making sure that it’s protected and covered is vital so we’re very grateful to Fish for the support.

“Next we started holding open day trials for the team. Once that’s finalised we hope to join division three in September.”

Interest in the team has been high and has included experienced players, first-timers wanting to take up the sport, and even a number of wheelchair basketball players who want to try a new discipline. Further taster sessions are being held in July, and the new team will train every Sunday at Liverpool’s Greenbank Sports Academy.

“It’s all about learning at the moment,” Martin says. “We’ll be building the team and training hard. Our coach has gained some valuable tips from ex Paralympian and GB rugby coach Mark Eccleston, who will be lending a hand from time to time, so we’re in very good hands.

“The goal at this stage is really to hold our own and finish in the top half of the league. We would naturally love promotion but we will be an inexperienced team so at the moment we’ll just be working on progressing as much as we can and expanding the Lions family.”

Based on Martin’s previous success stories, the team is tipped for success. In 2013, Martin’s then inexperienced England Wheelchair 7s Rugby Union team finished fourth in the six nations tournament, and a year later convincingly won the four nations. The team recently beat Italy, the world number two team, and have since taken on top team France in Paris, winning in convincing style 117-3 to become the world No.1 team in Wheelchair 7s.

Pictured: Martin Beddis with the England Wheelchair 7s Squad.

Liverpool Lions Wheelchair Rugby club & England 7s are on Facebook and Twitter.  Follow @LivLionsWRC and @England7sWRU and like Liverpool Wheelchair Rugby Club for updates.

Fish Insurance, proud supporter of the Liverpool Lions, will be competing at the Wheelchair Rugby Experience, hosted by the Spinal Injuries Association, in the Copper Box Arena at the Olympic Park, London, on October 28 2015.

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