- Double-header with Saints v London Wasps
- Emotional homecoming for Stoyles
England Deaf will play their second Deaf International of the season against Wales at Northampton’s Franklin’s Gardens ground on Saturday, May 10 as a double-header with the Saints’ Aviva Premiership match against London Wasps.
The Deaf International will kick off at 6.15pm after the Saints have played their last match in their regular league season and it will be the first time that England Deaf will have played at a Premiership club ground.
The international will be of special significance to Tony Stoyles, director of rugby of England Deaf, as a former Northampton Saints prop.
“Carry Them Home seems a very fitting slogan for me personally, as an ex-Northampton Saints player myself and now as Director of Rugby for England Deaf Rugby Union,” Stoyles said.
“It all seems surreal that I will be back at Franklin’s Gardens making history, as this game will be the first International Deaf rugby fixture being played at a Premiership club, and more importantly, at my old club.
“It will give me an enormous sense of pride to be able to walk out on the pitch once more – without the boots this time – and to reminisce and it will be an emotional moment for me.
“The lads will be reminded of the names who have played on this pitch, from Edgar Mobbs, Ron Jacobs, David Powell, Don White, Bob Taylor, Matt Dawson, Tim Rodber, Steve Thompson, Wayne Shelford, Gary Pearce, and the stars of today, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Ben Foden, Luther Burrell and George North.
“All the players are very excited to be playing at such a high profile club. They have been training hard with the help of high profile coaches and they simply cannot wait to put up a challenge to win back the trophy once more and show pride wearing the England Rose.
“This Deaf International Rugby fixture will hopefully demonstrate to all rugby communities, whether it be regional, nationally or worldwide, that international deaf rugby exists and I sincerely hope this will encourage players to join their national teams across the world.”
England Deaf will be attempting to reclaim the Broadstreet Cup from Wales after they were beaten 36-3 at Cardiff Arms Park in January.
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.