The four home nations – Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland – have joined forces to take injured rugby players aboard the tall ship STS Lord Nelson, to participate in an extraordinary sailing experience with the Jubilee Sailing Trust.
Whilst the Rugby Union season draws to a close and preparations begin for the Summer Internationals, attentions are now turning to the seas for a unique adventure that will reignite competition and camaraderie between the home nations.
The voyage started in Ireland’s home port of Dublin. The crew joined the ship during the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta and annual Riverfest.
From there they sailed to Cardiff, with all four teams working together to sail the unique vessel. The Lord Nelson is one of only two accessible tall ships ever built, both operated by the JST.
Alongside a professional 11-man crew, every other bunk is filled with rugby players of all standards, including former international players. The ships features mean those who have suffered life-changing injuries and loss of mobility can all play an active role in sailing.
Custom-built features include wider decks and lifts for wheelchair access, joystick assisted steering for those with mobility issues, and a speaking compass to allow visually impaired people to helm the ship.
Speaking ahead of the voyage, Duncan Souster, CEO of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, commented:
“This is an exciting adventure for the Trust, bringing together our home nations for a voyage that’s inclusive to former players of all physical abilities. Many of the joining crew will be accustomed to playing sport at the highest level, but this challenge will be on a completely different playing field. It’s great to have the support of each nation behind our mission to break down the barriers between people with disabilities and those able-bodied, and unlock each others potential.”
John Callaghan, IRFU Charitable Trust Chairman, added:
“We are delighted to be invited to join in the sailing trip this year for the first time. Our participants are very excited to join in and have fun.”
The eight day voyage began in Dublin on 3rd June 2018, finishing in Cardiff on 10th June. Where the ships goes in between will depend upon where the wind blows!