A record number of Australian-based participants are set to compete at the Australian Deaf Rugby tournament in Melbourne this Saturday, including former Inverell Highlanders coach Dave Kearsey.
Following months of campaigning, almost 40 deaf and hard-of-hearing rugby players from all corners of the country will put their best foot forward at one of Rugby's most inclusive events.
All the action kicks off from 3pm at Box Hill Rugby Union Football Club and is expected to draw a big crowd with a number of local teams jumping on board to compete.
The Australian Men's Deaf Rugby side will take on the Melbourne Chargers and Vic Masters whilst the Australian Women's Deaf Rugby team will front up against a Victorian Women's Barbarians side.
As captain and coach Kearsey said the theme of the day will be inclusiveness.
"The day will be played in good rugby spirit. Vic Masters and the Chargers have been so welcoming, and we're excited to compete in Melbourne for the first time," Kearsey said.
"We're also using this tournament as a selection trial for our Fiji tour at the end of the year so we have deaf and hard-of-hearing players travelling in from all over the country to show off their skills and have some fun.
"We'll have professional interpreters there on the day and anyone with 25db hearing loss can play so I encourage others out there to come down or make contact if interested in being involved."
Australian Men's Deaf Rugby Team:
- Dave Kearsey: Port Macquarie NSW
- Ron Franklin: Canberra ACT
- Scott Masterson: Melbourne VIC
- Josh Doe: Central Coast NSW
- Adrian Underwood: Canberra ACT
- Matthew Cain: Sunshine Coast QLD
- Dwayne Fox: Launceston TAS
- Dave Page: Sydney NSW
- Aviu Ware: Cairns QLD
- Shadrach Sale-Graham: Cairns QLD
- Nathaniel Murray-Fourmile: Cairns QLD
- Wade Atherton: Newcastle NSW
- Alex Redford: Canberra ACT
- Ben Pese Utai: Melbourne VIC
- Tim Ansley: Sydney NSW
- Cooper Taylor: Tweed Heads NSW
- Jin Saeng: Melbourne VIC
- James Vea: Melbourne VIC
- Jason Boseley: Sydney NSW
- Jarred Charman: Melbourne VIC
- Scotty Shoesmith: Ballina NSW
- Michael Kanai: Cairns QLD
- Kristen McLeanne: Cairns QLD
- Caleb Transom: Melbourne VIC
Australian Women's Deaf Rugby Team:
- Rona Lazo: Canberra ACT
- Diana Ciufettelli: Canberra ACT
- Jamie Howie: Brisbane, QLD
- Sue Frank: Cairns, QLD
- Loz Soron: Melbourne VIC
- Taz Browing: Melbourne VIC
- Emily Barber: Sydney NSW
- Jemima Blackmore: Brisbane, QLD
- Freba Zayee: Melbourne VIC
- Stephanie O'Halon: Melbourne VIC
- Jaqui Mellington: Melbourne VIC
- Michael Juam Graham: Adelaide SA
- Joanna Samuel: Cairns QLD
- Sydnee Cooke: Canberra ACT
Australian Deaf Rugby Tournament Fixtures:
- 1:50pm - Melbourne Chargers v Vic Masters
- 2:30pm - Australian Women Deaf Rugby v Vic Women's Barbarians
- 2:50pm - Australian Men Deaf Rugby v Melbourne Chargers v Vic Masters
- 3:15pm - Australian Women Deaf Rugby v Vic Women's Barbarians
- 3:35pm - Australian Men Deaf Rugby v Melbourne Chargers v Vic Masters
- 4:00pm - Australian Women Deaf Rugby v Vic Women's Barbarians
- 4:20pm - Australian Men Deaf Rugby v Melbourne Chargers v Vic Masters
- 5:05pm - Women's 'Spirit of Rugby' mixed game
- 5:45pm - Men's 'Spirit of Rugby' mixed game
- 6:30pm - Post-match function, auctions & presentations