Cheeky Warriors break down barriers

South Wales Guardian: BARE-FACED CHEEK: Llanelli Warriors integrated rugby club have launched a nude 2014 calendar. BARE-FACED CHEEK: Llanelli Warriors integrated rugby club have launched a nude 2014 calendar.

Fans of large men with odd-shaped balls are in for a treat this Christmas as the Llanelli Warriors drop their shorts in a bid to break down barriers and shatter a few stereotypes.

The Warriors – an integrated side including players with learning disabilities - have shown some bare-faced cheek to produce a nude 2014 calendar.

The calendar was the brainchild of Warriors coach and Betws Seconds skipper Gwilym Lewis, from Glanaman.

“We came up with the idea of a calendar to push a few boundaries, have some fun and hopefully raise some funds,” said Gwilym.

“The key thing was to challenge preconceptions of people with learning difficulties.

“People may think a nude calendar is not a typical thing for people with learning difficulties to do, but it is totally normal thing for rugby players to do. - first and foremost the Warriors are a rugby team – whoever pulls on the shirt.”

“The general image of people with learning difficulties has improved hugely in recent years, but there are still a lot of preconceived negative ideas.

“We still hear people saying ‘are you sure they should play rugby?’ and we have had people questioning whether the calendar is appropriate.

“We don’t label players - a good-looking guy is a good-looking guy and there is plenty of eye-candy in the Warriors team to set a few ladies’ pulses racing.

“Rugby is a sport for all shapes and sizes and we have everything from hunky fitness instructors to cuddly props, so the Warriors have something for everyone."

The club is one of only three integrated sides playing in the UK and is already formulating plans to follow the national side on a Pacific Islands tour in what has been described as “the most ambitious sporting venture involving athletes with learning difficulties ever”.

“We discussed rugby trips and dream locations and came up with Fiji,” said Gwilym.

“Wales undertake a Pacific Islands tour in 2017, which will be our 21st anniversary, so we thought why not? It is only a loose plan at this stage, but what an experience it would be for our players.”

The Warriors calendars are available for £7 and can be ordered on the club’s website pitchero.com/clubs/llanelliwarriorsrfc, on Facebook, at iSmooth Cafe in Ammanford and from Betws RFC, or by sending a cheque made out to Llanelli Warriors to Llanelli Warriors RFC, 53 Llys Cilsaig, Dafen, SA14 8QT.

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