The north-east’s only inclusive rugby team, Aberdeen Taexali are planning on becoming fully inclusive this weekend as it welcomes both male and female players to its first touch tournament this Saturday, as part of Grampian Pride.

Organised by head coach, Grant Skene and the committee, the club is using its social media and digital platforms to engage, educate and entertain followers and the local community with a range of content ahead of its ‘Rugby Pride’ event on Saturday 29th May.

Skene said: “Pride is always a massive calendar celebration for the LGBTQ+ community and since Four Pillars launched Grampian Pride three years ago, the North-east event has proved hugely popular.

“The pandemic last year saw it move online, and due to on-going restrictions, it is following a similar format this year. However, as team sport is permitted, we decided that we would celebrate the special day by hosting our own touch tournament, where we invited female players to join us for the first time.”

Welcoming 50 players to its home ground at Woodside Sports Complex, Taexali will be joined by players from Aberdeenshire RFC ladies’ and men’s teams. Split into five teams of ten, teams will compete in a round robin tournament across two pitches.

Proud of its inclusive nature, this will be the first time that Aberdeen Taexali have invited females to join them on the field.

Skene explained: “As a Rugby Union team, we unfortunately can’t offer female players the same inclusive experience that we have for our male team due to rugby regulations. However, with contact sport still not permitted, and the team enjoying being back to games with touch now allowed in tier two locations, we thought this would be a great excuse to invite ladies down.

“We’ve teamed up with Aberdeenshire RFC ladies and men’s team for the event, so we’re looking to not just welcome females to Taexali, but also break any barriers that may exist between a ‘traditionally viewed’ rugby team, and ourselves.”

In addition to the planned tournament, the club has also shared facts and stats, created Pride playlists to download and launched an exclusive selection of Taexali Pride merchandise.

“It’s been really interesting to do a lot of research around this and find out how lucky we are to have our own club that allows prejudice to not get in the way of enjoying the game.

“We found that 82% of LGBTQ+ people in Scotland have witnessed homophobic or transphobic language in sport in the last 12 months, and this just isn’t good enough.

“Our mission is to help encourage those who ordinarily might not get involved in rugby for whatever that reason might be, whether that be sexual orientation, race, gender, age or experience, to give it a try.

“Our club represents players who identify as gay, straight and trans, and we’re very proud to provide a safe, inclusive and active space in the sport of rugby union.”

Although planned as a relaxed and fun event, the tournament will act as a form of training for players of Taexali who are looking forward to hosting two ‘friendly’ matches with IGR neighbouring teams, Caledonian Thebans RFC and Glasgow Raptors RFC in July (subject to the easing of restrictions and matches being permitted).

For more information about Aberdeen Taexali and to check out any of their Pride activity please visit aberdeentaexali.com and across social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@AberdeenTaexali).

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