For the first time in its short history, UM Wolves RFC will be participating in all senior divisions of Maltese rugby.
The news was announced by the club, which represents the University of Malta, at its launch of the 2021/22 season last Saturday.
As from this season, the club’s men’s squad will be participating in the rugby union 15s league, 15s cup, and 7s series, thereby becoming the fifth team to join the league structure in Malta.
UM Wolves RFC was established in 2017 and continues to be predominantly student-run, and made up of student-athletes.
The club’s women’s squad will continue to participate in the women’s 7s series as well, having made their seasonal debut in the 2019/20 season, when they sat in 2nd place before the league was stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UM Wolves RFC women’s team in 2019 made history by becoming the first women’s team to ever represent the University of Malta in rugby union – and by becoming the only women’s team to represent the University of Malta in any sport right now.
The club’s men’s squad will be led by coaches Stefan De Marco and Martin Husband, while its women’s team will be led by coach Carmelo Longo. Gabriel Seychell will captain the club’s men’s team while Malta international Yanica Camilleri will captain the women’s team.
Addressing the club’s season launch, club President Albert Galea praised the players across both squads for continuing to train during the uncertain times of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the fact that competitive rugby has been absent for almost two years.
Galea said that the club’s aims for the coming season are for its players to give their maximum on the pitch and show what they are capable of.
“We are conscious of the fact that our men’s team are underdogs compared to our opponents. But that doesn’t mean that – as some people may think – we are pushovers. While we know we are the underdogs, we also believe that our team can upset the apple cart and make our adversaries sweat,” Galea said.
Galea also announced that at the end of the season, the club would be planting a number of trees dependent on the number of tries scored throughout the upcoming campaign.
UM Wolves RFC’s consultancy partner lumco.mt also unveiled the club’s new kits, which will be worn by the men’s team for the upcoming season.
UM Wolves RFC launches new mixed ability rugby team: The United Programme
Another announcement made during the club’s season launch was of the opening of a new branch, in an initiative titled ‘The United Programme’.
The programme, which will see the club collaborating with NGO The Brain Foundation, focuses on the concept of mixed ability rugby, which brings together people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities with fully-able players to create a rugby squad.
UM Wolves RFC Secretary General Giulia Buhagiar said: “We know the rugby community is one which is welcoming, respectful and empowering to all who join it. We want to extend that to individuals with disability.”
“We believe that a programme like this will offer the possibility of holistic growth for those who part in it, and we think that it will empower them and grant them the independence of practicing a sport as well,” Buhagiar said.
Sessions for this programme have already commenced, with members of The Brain Foundation leading them by following what is known as the Marqos teaching method. Training sessions take place on Wednesday evenings at the Marigold Foundation’s facility called The Meeting Place in Marsa. Those wishing to join the programme as volunteers can contact the club or the Brain Foundation on Facebook.
All photos and videos featured in this article are by Jonathan Pace.