A total of 25,000 spectators, 1,100 players, 82 games, 28 teams and all from 14 different countries.
The numbers are impressive, and they should be, for these stats cover the third-ever IMART International Mixed Ability Rugby World Cup, which takes plays at Musgrave Park in Cork between June 5 to 10.
This historic event, which has been delayed by a couple of years due to the Covid pandemic, is fully supported by the IRFU, and will be the largest inclusive sporting event in Europe in 2022.
It comprises teams from countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Argentina, Ecuador and Poland, as players from these nations come together to play rugby under the same World Rugby laws as the fifteen a side game with only minor adaptations such as uncontested scrums, rolling substitutions and a clear emphasis on ensuring equal playing time on the pitch for all participants.
The previous two Mixed Ability World Cups were held in Bradford in the UK in 2015 and then in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque country, in Spain in 2017, so it is huge for Cork to have the honour of hosting the third renewal of the event.
And this year’s event is made extra special by the fact that it will host the first KPMG-sponsored Women’s Mixed Ability Rugby tournament.
The Mixed Ability Model – championed by IMAS – encourages social inclusion by removing barriers to participation for people who feel unable to join mainstream grassroots clubs or groups due to physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues, size, shape, age, prolonged inactivity, or a perception of ‘not being good enough’.
It is hoped that this World Cup will help to break down barriers and enhance interest, participation and interaction of people of all abilities in the sport across Ireland and beyond, and help to build new connections between grassroots clubs, educational institutions, communities and local authorities.
In the men’s event local interest will be split evenly between the Sunday’s Well Rebels and the West Cork Jesters.
The Sunday’s Well Rebels are old hands at this level at this stage, as they have the distinction of becoming Ireland’s first mixed ability team when they were founded in 2014.
Significantly they are also the hosts of this magnificent event, having earned the right to hold it after partaking in both of the previous World Cups.
It is also worth noting that they had the incredible honour of winning the very first World Cup final in 2015 when they brilliantly defeated that year’s hosts the Bradford Bumble Bees in the decider.
Two years later they came extremely close to repeating that amazing feat when losing the 2017 final in Spain to the impressive Pumpas side from Argentina.
Cork’s other representatives in the men’s tournament are the West Cork Jesters, who are a Bantry-based outfit who were set up in the summer of 2018 after their founding players had won a tag rugby event in Belfast which left the players hungry for more rugby.
The added bonus that mixed ability rugby brings a contact element no doubt was also an extremely attractive part of the equation for some of these keen jokers in the pack! They will certainly be looking to make their mark over the course of the tournament.
It is extremely fitting that Cork are represented in the women’s event too.
The Ballincollig Trailblazers were the first mixed ability women’s team to be established in Ireland and they will no doubt have serious home backing throughout as they look to win on home turf.
They were founded in November 2019 with only six players initially on the books. They are now up to 29 and are confident of putting in a decent showing at the six-day event.
Hundreds of keen volunteers will be on hand to ensure the smooth running of the tournament.
Whatever the outcome, this event will undoubtedly be remembered by all who participate, all who help out, and all who attend over the course of what should be an incredible and memorable six days at Cork rugby HQ.