- Eleven new caps for England Deaf
- Squad set to face Wales at Cardiff Arms Park
England Deaf have named 11 new caps in their squad for their international against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday January 26 (1.30pm).
England have lost a number of senior players through retirement since they beat Wales at Fylde in their last international two years ago and only three members of this season’s squad – openside flanker Ian Collins and replacements Brett Bruce and Nick Todd – have ten or more caps.
The newcomers in the squad are full-back Max Thorne, centre Tom Bridgeman, fly-half Sam Scadeng, loosehead prop Joshua Sprules, hooker Oliver Evans, lock Grant Reynolds and blindside flanker Luke Cheyne in the starting side, plus replacements Sam Taylor, Richard Browne, Jack Hunt and Aaron Beesley.
The Cardiff match will be the first time that England Deaf have played an international on a 4G rubber crumb pitch.
The England Deaf Rugby Union was formed in 2003 to provide opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing rugby players to play for their country.
Players are eligible to play for England Deaf and the England Deaf Rugby Union for Women if they have a combined 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 with normal hearing 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 offers Deaf Awareness advice to clubs and schools to help integrate deaf and hard of hearing players.
Former England Deaf international Mat Gilbert has made a successful career as a professional rugby career as a back-row forward first with Scarlets and now with Bath in the Aviva Premiership.
England Deaf to face Wales
15 Max Thorne (Dunstablians), 14 Lee Woollard (Sidcup), 13 Jack Haddock (Harpenden), 12 Tom Bridgeman (Kettering), 11 Adam Faulkner (Cheddar), 10 Sam Scadeng (Sutton Coldfield), 9 Graham Sage (Cleve); 1 Joshua Sprules (Bletchley), 2 Oliver Evans (Hartpury College), 3 Peter Altham (Grasshoppers), 4 Ryan Arbon (Hitchin), 5 Grant Reynolds (Wolverhampton), 6 Luke Cheyne (Sale FC), 7 Ian Collins (Sevenoaks), 8 Barney Reed (Shoreham).
Replacements: Brett Pruce (Aylestone St James), Sam Taylor (Oxford University), Paul Cooper (Romford & Gidea Park), Nick Todd (Aylesbury), Richard Browne (Thatcham), Jack Hunt (Northampton Old Scouts), Aaron Beesley (Southsea Nomads), Liam Rowe (Swindon)