We sat down with Northern Irish-based member of the Irish Wheelchair rugby team Will Doggart to find out about his experience playing in Australia, his plans for the future and how he felt when our CEO Max Mackin made a generous donation that helped him achieve his dreams of traveling to Australia to play in the worldwide competition.
Great to see you again Will! How did you feel when the money was raised for you to go to Australia for the wheelchair Rugby World Cup?
It was a huge shock! I was always hopeful but never thought I would reach the total needed. It was my last hope to raise funds and when I discovered that Black fox made a donation that helped me get past the total I nearly fell out of my chair!
Tell us about your experience taking part in the worldwide competition.
It was a bit surreal. I remember a nurse showed me wheelchair rugby. I sat watching this new sport in awe and 8 years later I’m lining up against the same guys I watched on tv. I feel we underperformed, the experience was amazing but the results just were not good enough, I think our inexperience at this level cost us but hopefully it will prepare us for the future.
What is your favourite memory from Australia?
My favourite memory would have to be lining up for our first match against Japan and hearing the national anthem. I remember looking over and waving at my wife and best friend as they cheered me on and it was an amazing feeling.
Are you still playing rugby?
Yes I am, I took a small break to figure out my career outside rugby. I now am coaching the Ulster barbarians wheelchair rugby team in Antrim as well which I really enjoy and want to continue.
What are your plans for the future?
It’s all been very exciting, I just started a new job and bought a house. I really hope we can build an Irish team that could challenge for a spot at the 2024 Paralympics, but it’s so hard to compete against larger and powerful countries who have more money. Which is why the support I got from black fox and the public gave myself and my team a chance to show the world what we can do. I will always be grateful for that.
What would be your advice to others wanting to become part of wheelchair rugby or another similar sport?
What are you waiting for? Jump in, try it out and you never know where you can go, what you can achieve. When I suffered a spinal injury years ago, I never thought it would end up in me travelling the world, meeting so many amazing people and achieving so much. Without rugby I’d never have done all this.