CAN YOU HELP? England Deaf Rugby player seeks funds to represent country on South Africa tour

PUBLISHED: 16:00 29 January 2020

Catherine John has been selected for England's tour to South Africa. Picture: Grace John

Catherine John has been selected for England's tour to South Africa. Picture: Grace John

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A rugby union player from Weston is appealing for funding to represent her country in ‘the trip of a lifetime’.

Catherine John in action for England. Picture: Grace JohnCatherine John in action for England. Picture: Grace John

Catherine John, who plays for The Hornettes ladies team as a hooker, has been selected by England Deaf for their 10-day tour to South Africa in May.

To tour, she needs to raise £1,500, which will cover food, kit, first aid, travel and more.

Catherine John in action for England. Picture: Grace JohnCatherine John in action for England. Picture: Grace John

Catherine told the Mercury: "It's such an amazing honour and privilege to wear the rose, and to do it representing our country, in South Africa, playing a game I love, is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

England Deaf Rugby Union (EDRU) was set up in 2009 to enable deaf and hard of hearing people to enjoy the sport of rugby union and participate in training and competitive matches.

Catherine John scoring a try for England. Picture: Grace JohnCatherine John scoring a try for England. Picture: Grace John

Both groups play international games and work with deaf and hard of hearing schools and colleges to encourage deaf children and young adults into sport.

The only other established deaf rugby international teams are based in the Southern Hemisphere, and the tour will be the first time the two nations will play against each other.

Catherine John scoring a try for England. Picture: Grace JohnCatherine John scoring a try for England. Picture: Grace John

EDRU is a registered charity, but it is unable to fully finance the trip, and all players, coaches and staff have been asked to individually fund it.

Catherine has been playing and training with England since 2017 and has played community fixtures representing the deaf team, although this would be her first opportunity to go on tour abroad.

Catherine John scoring a try for England. Picture: Grace JohnCatherine John scoring a try for England. Picture: Grace John

Speaking about playing for The Hornettes, Catherine said: "I really enjoy it. They are an amazing bunch of people, both the players and the coaches.

"They are inclusive and help by relaying calls or instructions if needed.

"Playing in a non-hard-of-hearing team isn't much different to playing alongside hearing players, except we all have the hearing issues in common; the severity of the hearing loss varies across the team, ranging from deaf to hard of hearing.

"It makes you more aware about what's going on around you, looking to see where players are instead of relying on them hearing you and you hearing them."

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