Gravesend Dynamites represented in Six Nations Sevens
PUBLISHED: 10:03 21 April 2014
Growing up, teacher Jason Owen and college student Ben Ide, like many youngsters, dreamed of representing their country.
Jason, 43, who played football for Hereford United as a youngster, wanted to net the winner at Wembley Stadium for England.
Ben, 20, meanwhile, was dead set on pulling on the red rose and running out at Twickenham to the strains of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
This summer they will fulfil their dreams but for England wheelchair rugby sevens side in the latest edition of the Six Nations Sevens tournament.
Being selected for the squad – which features able-bodied and disabled players – might not be quite what they had imagined all those years ago but they are nonetheless thrilled to have been picked.
“As a youngster I dreamed of playing football for my country and 30 years down the line I have been selected to play wheelchair rugby,” says Jason. of Echo Square, Gravesend.
“I am looking forward to pulling on the shirt with the rose on it and the national anthem, which will bring a tear to my eye – and then, of course, the first tackle.”
Both men play for Gravesend Dynamites, which is part of the town’s rugby club based in Donald Briggs Drive.
Home matches are played at North West Kent College in Dartford.
It was only last September when the pair lowered themselves into a wheelchair for the first time to begin their new sport. Jason had never even played rugby before, let alone wheelchair rugby.
Ben, a front-row prop, took up the sport after suffering concussion in a match playing for Gravesend RFC.
“I was originally playing standard rugby at the club but I knocked myself out so I took wheelchair rugby up,” he says. “I had dizzy spells and had headaches but I will continue the running version next season.
“I was really happy because I felt I had worked hard enough to have earned [selection to the side].
“I have made it to where I wanted to be in the running game, but in a wheelchair,” he jokes.
Jason became enthralled with the game after watching the wheelchair rugby league world cup at Medway last year with his family.
He says: “I did not realise 12 months later I would be playing for my country in the sport.”
According to Ben, the sevens version of the sport is more fluid, like the “running” version.
“It is great to watch – you do not realise who is disabled,” adds Jason. “There are big crashes when two people collide together. You can knock someone out of the chair.”
The England sevens team will travel to Paris in June to play their five matches.