November 30, 2002
Mississippi Quad Rugby team draws players from New Orleans
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—The secret is out.
People with disabilities from as far away as New Orleans are discovering that playing sports like quad rugby can add fun, excitement and a higher level of independence to their lives.
And members of the Jackson Jags, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s quad rugby team, are happy to have the help of four players from the Big Easy.
Richard Nagle, David Richard, Jay Brasset and Peter Benoit, have all joined the Jackson hospital’s team in the past year.
“It’s been a lot of fun having the new guys around,” said Ginny Boydston, Jag’s coach and director of therapeutic recreation at Methodist. “Our players already come from all over Mississippi, so it’s not unusual that we should have New Orleans residents with disabilities interested in our programs.”
The team recently returned from Montgomery, Ala., where it competed against teams from around the country in the Capitol City Clash quad rugby tournament.
“I’ve had a great time since I joined the Jackson team,” said Brasset. “I had never met so many other quads until I went to the tournament. It’s a good feeling to meet and talk to other people who understand your injury.”
Like Brasset, most of the Jags have found they’ve gained independence and confidence from playing rugby, said Boydston. “Working out and training makes them stronger and going to practice forces them to get out of the house,” she added. “That’s important because a lot of times after a disabling injury, a person retreats. We want to help them build the self-confidence to be able to tackle everyday obstacles.”
Developed in the 1970s by Canadian quadriplegics, quad rugby has been a hit in Jackson since 1997 when Boydston and team member Wiley Clark of Moss Point helped get things started.
In the game, players use specially built wheelchairs to try to take the rugby down a basketball court and across the goal line. Contact between chairs is not only allowed, but encouraged.
“It’s a tough sport and that’s one reason I like it,” said Scott Davis of Hattiesburg. “A lot of people see this wheelchair and think I can’t do much, but you should see their reaction when they see a game and see how hard we play and how brutal it is.”
The Jags are preparing for additional tournaments in Texas and Georgia. That’s another advantage to team sports for the disabled, Boydston said. “A lot of people with disabilities don’t know what they’re capable of until they get out and try. They think traveling is beyond them and that mindset robs them of the chance to experience all that life offers,” she added.
“The competition and friendships make it all worthwhile,” said Brasset. “It’s been a blast for us.”
Jay Brasset, of New Orleans, is a member of Methodist Rehabilitation Center's quad rugby team. Brasset and three other players from New Orleans drive to Jackson every other week to play on the Mississippi team.