[S]he may not at first glance look like a typical rugby player, but final-year occupational therapy postgraduate student Charlotte Drinkald has plenty of experience in the sport and is putting it to good use.
The University of Cumbria student, from Swansea, played rugby during her undergraduate degree and is now a mixed ability rugby coach. Aware of the positive benefits she saw in herself as a result of participating in the sport, Charlotte became involved with helping those with disabilities to play as well. She then went on to choose the topic as the focus of research for her MSc dissertation as, having observed the amazing outcomes for some of the players, she believed it deserved a structured and academic approach to uncover the value and benefits of taking part.
Charlotte, 25 , explains: “One of the main results is that playing rugby can instil increased confidence in those with disabilities, as well as delivering a lot of skills both physical and social. Some of the players with cerebral palsy have found their balance and coordination have improved ten-fold since they started, while other players have now gained the social confidence to go out and get a job – one has secured a job in the pub that sponsors the team.”
Charlotte is hoping the results of her research will inform the sporting community and encourage further take-up of a sport that she is convinced has a lot to offer on a variety of levels, but particularly to non-traditional players and especially to those with disabilities.
Principal lecturer Dr Karen Morris said: “Charlotte’s work highlights how she has been able to combine her knowledge for both her undergraduate studies and her MSc Occupational Therapy programme to explore the potential of rugby as a therapeutic intervention. It also highlights how occupational therapy helps support people to do the things they want to do for a fulfilling life.”