- Sage to become England Deaf’s 100th international
- Altham brothers to face Wales
Oxford Harlequins scrum half Graham Sage will become the 100th player to be capped by England Deaf when he lines up against Wales in the annual international at Fylde on Sunday February 26 (1pm).
Sage is one of five new caps in the England squad but will be the 100th to be awarded his cap since the England Deaf Rugby Union was formed nine years ago.
Wharfedale flanker George Altham is another of the newcomers and his first appearance for the England Deaf side will be a family occasion as he packs down alongside his brother Peter, an established England Deaf player, who plays his club rugby for Fylde.
The Althams are the second brothers to be capped by England Deaf after Brett – who will play at hooker against Wales – and Leigh Pruce.
Centre Jack Haddock and wing Liam Roads are the other newcomers in England’s starting line-up which was announced by director of rugby Tony Stoyles today. Paul Cooper is the only uncapped player among the replacements.
England, who are seeking their first win against Wales since 2004, will be captained for the first time by Sevenoaks flanker Ian Collins with centre Guy Lavery as his deputy.
Players are eligible to play for the England Deaf side if they have a combined average hearing loss of 25dB or more in both ears This roughly translates to a minimum hearing loss in both ears or a moderate hearing loss in one ear but can hear normally in the other.
Not all of the players wear hearing aids or only communicate by sign language, and this has never stopped all the players communicating and playing rugby as a squad.
EDRU can offer Deaf Awareness advice to clubs and schools Integrate Deaf and Hard of Hearing players to clubs and liaise with club members to ensure the players are managed correctly.
England Deaf v Wales
15 Charlie James (Ely); 14 Liam Roads (Princes Risborough), 13 Guy Lavery (Tunbridge Wells), 12 Jack Haddock (Harpenden), 11 Adam Faulkner (Wharfedale); 10 Craig Orrick (Ruskin Park), 9 Graham Sage (Oxford Harlequins); 1 Nick Todd (Buckinghamshire New University), 2 Brett Pruce (Aylestone St James), 3 Peter Altham (Fylde), 4 Daniel McAllister (Luton) 5 Ryan Arbon (Hitchin), 6 George Altham (Wharfedale) 7 Ian Collins (Sevenoaks – captain), 8 Kris Mannering (Richmond).
Replacements: Tom Cowdale (Wolverhampton), Len Fincham (South Leicester), Paul Cooper (Thames), Truter Bothma (KCS Old Boys), Robert Turner (Old Leamingtonians), Simon Cottom (South Leicester), Lee Woollard (Sidcup).