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RFL publishes Dividend Report to highlight the value of Disability Rugby League

The social value of Disability Rugby League has been underlined by a Dividend Report published today by the Rugby Football League- the third in a series of studies into the social and/or economic impact of Rugby League.

It follows the Rugby League Dividend Report in 2019, and “These Girls Can – The Wider Impacts of the Growth of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League”, which was published last year – with the research again conducted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute of Sport.


The headline findings are that for every £1 invested in Wheelchair Rugby League, there is a social return of £3.39. That is slightly higher, at £4.10, for Physical Disability Rugby League, and at £3.48 for Learning Disability Rugby League.

The figures for investment by the players and their families, as opposed to other stakeholders such as volunteers, the RFL and sponsors, are even more striking – with a social return calculated at £9.84 for every £1 of investment.

But as is stressed in forewords by Adam Hills MBE – the Australian comedian who plays PDRL for Warrington Wolves – and John Hughes of Community Integrated Care, the RFL’s social care partners who sponsor the Learning Disability Super League, the benefits of Disability Rugby League go well beyond those which can be.

“From a personal perspective I’ve seen Physical Disability Rugby League improve people’s physical and mental health, provide a community for people who may not have one, and give people with physical disabilities the chance to experience some things that able-bodied people often take for granted,” writes Hills.

“As you read this report, you’ll see facts and figures, tallies and graphs, and a load of facts. But every single person who plays Disability Rugby League – whether it be Physical Disability, Learning Disability, or the Wheelchair game – has a story like mine. A story of an improved quality of life, of a happier disposition, of better health.

For people with disabilities, sport is like a public building. All we ask is for a way to get in.”

John Hughes writes: “It was an educated experiment when Community Integrated Care first invested in Rugby League. It, frankly, isn’t what care providers normally do. As a charity, it is so important that we use our resources responsibly to achieve an impact, and I felt that we could do that in Rugby League, because of the values ​​it upholds.

“I could never have imagined quite how big things could get. Right now though, all I can see is possibilities. This publication is the opening chapter of what we will achieve together, not the final volume.”

Through interviews with players and others involved in the three forms of Disability Rugby League, the report provides figures under four headings: Increased Confidence and Self-Esteem; Physical and Mental Well-Being; Expanding Social Circles and Connecting Families; and Perception of Disability.

Of the players surveyed:

  • 82% reported improved self-confidence due to their participation in Rugby League;
  • 91% said their life has improved;
  • 90% of players stated that they have achieved things they never previously thought possible before playing Disability Rugby League, demonstrating that the sport provides opportunities to achieve goals, however big or small;
  • 88% of PDRL players and 92% of Wheelchair RL players surveyed said they would be less active if they were not able to play Rugby League;
  • 91% of Disability Rugby League players said the sport had provided new opportunities and experiences;
  • 97% have made new friends through their participation, indicating the positive impact Disability Rugby League has on reducing the levels of loneliness and isolation of its players; and
  • 88% of PDRL players say playing Rugby League has changed the way they think about their disability.

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