Forfar-based charity introduces first rugby sessions for visually impaired

A Forfar-based charity is aiming to be the first organisation in Scotland to offer weekly rugby sessions for visually impaired adults from across the region.

Mark Dowie
Friday, 12th November 2021, 3:22pm
Forfar-based charity introduces first rugby sessions for visually impaired
The game is similar to touch rugby – with seven-a-side but with a ball containing ball bearings and bells to make it audible. The referee also provides a running commentary. Pic: David Cotter.

The Strathmore Community Rugby Trust is add the specially-modified sessions to the list of projects it already runs, including rugby and life lessons for High School pupils, walking rugby and its award-winning autism-friendly rugby for primary pupils.

The Sunday sessions at Forfar Community Campus, from 10.45am until noon, will be open to anyone in Tayside over 18, regardless of fitness or ability level, whose visual impairment falls between B1 and B5 in the British Blind Sport sight classification system.

Details of the classifications can be found at


They will also aim to provide visually-impaired adults an opportunity to be more active and improve their physical and mental well-being by playing a specially-modified version of the game. The first will be held on Sunday November 21.

Similar to touch rugby, VI rugby is played seven-a-side and uses a ball containing ball bearings and bells to make it audible.

Players wear numbered bibs so the referee, who commentates throughout to help them know where the ball is and what is happening, can identify players on the pitch.

Play takes elements from both the Union and League codes - so features uncontested scrums and line-outs, two-hand touch tackles after which the tackled player places the ball between their legs and the tackling team have to retreat five metres as well as a turnover ball after six tackles.

While the sport is well-established in England and Wales, thanks to the work of sports charity The Change Foundation, it is yet to be established in Scotland.

The trust is currently working with the charity, alongside Angus Disability Sport, S North East Sensory Services, Scottish Disability Sport, Guide Dogs and Scottish War Blind, to bring it to Scotland for the first time.

Maggie Lawrie, community trust manager, said: “For the trust, providing this opportunity allows us to continue to fulfil our values of rugby, health and community.

"We’re really excited to be leading the way on this and look forward to seeing where the journey takes us.”

Anyone interested can find out more at If you’re interested in taking part, you should contact the trust by emailing or messaging it on Facebook, Messenger, Twitter or Instagram.

Financial support for the new project has already been received from Angus Health and Social Care Partnership, The National Lottery Awards for All and the Colin Grant Trust. An extra local sponsor is also being sought. Any businesses interested should contact the trust.

Alex Bassan, Head of Business Development at The Change Foundation said: “We are thrilled to be working with Strathmore Community Rugby Trust to bring VI Rugby to Scotland.

“Our aim is to help change lives through sport and in doing so enable as many people as possible to reap the benefits of sport. I’ve seen first-hand the enjoyment players get from the game and the friendships which are created. It’s also great to see people doing something they never thought would be possible - whether that be enjoying a game they used to play before their sight deteriorated or starting something new.

“If anyone would like to find out more about The Change Foundation or VI Rugby, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.”

The trust was founded in 2017 to increase public participation in sport, particularly rugby union and rugby league, in the Forfar, Kirriemuir and Brechin areas to benefit community health and well-being as well as develop young people into healthy, positive members of the community through the positive ethos and values of rugby.

It works in partnership with Strathmore RFC, Brechin RFC, Scottish Rugby and Scotland Rugby League. The trust’s Royal Patron is HRH The Earl of Forfar.

To find out more, go to the trust’s website at

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