Wakefield’s McDerby gets GB call for European Championships

Paul McDerby has been selected in the GB team for the Wheelchair Rugby European Championships.
Paul McDerby has been selected in the GB team for the Wheelchair Rugby European Championships.

Wakefield wheelchair rugby star Paul McDerby has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Wheelchair Rugby European Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, this summer.

The 27-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, only took up the sport three years ago, but has swiftly moved through the development and elite squads to make the final 12-man squad for Belgium.

McDerby plays at club level for Marauder Tigers Super Club, who oversee two sides in the Midlands and Yorkshire.

He is also the first British wheelchair rugby player with cerebral palsy to play at an international level and only the second in the world with I Class, the classification which allows him to compete in international tournaments.

McDerby said: “It’s an incredible honour to be selected for the Europeans.

“Hopefully it’s the next step to attending more tournaments and representing my country more.”

McDerby recently returned from the final pre-tournament contest in Switzerland, where Great Britain finished as runners-up to Sweden.

He also travelled to Poland for the Metro Cup last month, where Team GB finished second behind Canada.

The team took fifth place in last year’s Paralympics, and will be hoping to go even better this year as they go in search of a fourth European Championship crown.

Great Britain are in Pool A for the tournament, which starts on Saturday, August 10.

They will play hosts Belgium along with Germany, Finland, Austria and the Czech Republic during the Championships.

McDerby’s partner Rachel Dickie, who also helps coordinate the Marauders Tigers, said: “Great Britain have been consistent so far this year from the off.

“They have now placed in the top three for the second tournament in a row.

“In Switzerland, they played in the semi-final and won in extra time against Germany, then lost in final by just eight points.”

The Great Britain team, who have won the European Championships on three occasions, lost out to Sweden two years ago but will travel to Belgium with their sights firmly set on gold.

The full squad is: James Roberts, Paul McDerby, Ayaz Bhuta, Mandip Sehmi, Alan Ash (captain), Christopher Ryan, Gavin Walker, Michael Kerr (vice captain), Myles Pearson, Bulbul Hussain, Johnny Coggan and Muhammad Fukral Islam.