Wheelchair Rugby has scored a world first in corporate partnerships along with Vice Regal patronage. Long-time supporter of Wheelchair Rugby in Australia, insurance group GIO has been announced as the naming rights sponsor for the 2018 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship.  Patron for the championship is NSW Governor, General David Hurley.

Speaking at a media event at Government House Sydney, Disability Sports Australia CEO, Jenni Cole said it is the first time in the history of the championships that a naming rights sponsor has been secured. “The GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship will be the largest disability sporting event to be held in Australia since the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.”  It is also the largest event in the international rugby calendar, larger than the Paralympic Games, and will be held from August 5-10, 2018.

“Our success in securing the right to host the 7th Wheelchair Rugby World Championship is significant in Australian sport and would not have been possible without the support of our partners and sponsors, in particular GIO , the Australian Defence Force and Australian Rugby Union as well as our NSW member, Wheelchair Sports NSW,” Cole said.

The governor said he was honoured to be appointed patron of the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation’s Wheelchair Rugby World Championship. “Seeing the joy that this very physical sport offers to our veterans, whose injuries through service to their nation resulted in them requiring the use of a wheelchair, is inspiring. I am looking forward to fast and furious games of strength, skill and speed, as the 11 international teams battle it out against our champion Australian Steelers.”

Another speaker was Insurance Australia head of accident & trauma, Matthew Kayrooz.  “When I talk to people about the sport those with major disability play that involves full contact they are astounded, and say it’s crazy, but that’s wheelchair rugby.  It is very special Australia is going to be hosting the world championships because it puts the sport on the map, showcasing top Australian athletes at an elite level.  We see what happens with major injuries, particularly for motor vehicle accidents where lives can be destroyed very quickly.”

Kayrooz said one of the biggest roadmaps back to pride and self-esteem is playing sport because it makes a difference having people think:  “Yes I can live again and live my life like it should be.  So the GIO can see what a difference sport makes and it is a great honour and privilege for us to continue our sponsorship”.

NSW Governor, General David Hurley with Disability Sports Australia CEO, Jenni Cole