A sportsman from Leeds is gearing up for an exciting weekend as wheelchair rugby league takes centre stage in his hometown. Nathan Collins, a standout player for the England wheelchair team, played a crucial role in elevating the sport’s profile in 2022 when they clinched the world championship title.
Now, he and his teammates are getting ready to face off against France once again, the team they defeated in the final of the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup. This match holds special significance for Nathan as it is happening on his home turf.
The game is scheduled to be held at Leeds’s first direct arena on Sunday, November 5th, with local fans expected to turn out in full force to support England. This fixture is part of an action-packed weekend of rugby league in Leeds, which will also feature the England men’s and women’s teams in action at Headingley Stadium on Saturday.
This triple-header follows the city’s successful hosting of several matches during last year’s Rugby League World Cup, along with other major sporting events such as the AJ Bell World Triathlon Championship Series and the Westfield Health British Transplant Games.
Nathan, who resides in Swillington and works for Leeds City Council, expressed his pride, saying, “Representing my country and playing in my home city makes me very proud. I can’t wait to be part of a fantastic team showcasing our great game in this amazing venue. It is going to be very special – about a hundred of my family and friends have bought tickets! If we can replicate the atmosphere of a Headingley crowd in the arena it will give us the extra man against France.”
Wheelchair rugby league is renowned for its tough and fiercely contested matches, combining high-speed collisions with graceful skills, creating a thrilling spectacle for spectators. It is also highly regarded for its inclusivity, allowing teams to include both disabled and non-disabled players.
Nathan, now 22, started playing the sport at the age of 10 and has been a stalwart of the Leeds Rhinos wheelchair team for a long time. Alongside his rugby commitments, he works as a lifeguard and swimming teacher at council leisure centres in Kippax and Rothwell.
An accomplished try-scorer and goal-kicker, Nathan is grateful for the support he receives from his colleagues, stating, “The number of messages I got after winning the World Cup nearly broke my phone!”
Looking forward to the match in Leeds, he added, “If you like rugby league you will love wheelchair rugby league – it’s high speed, high impact and highly skilful. It’s also best seen – and heard – live. This is a rematch that nobody wants to lose, and hopefully it will introduce our game to more people that will want to follow it in the future. We want to inspire people to come along and play and volunteer and grow the game even more.”
Three Rhinos wheelchair players – Nathan, Tom Halliwell, and Josh Butler – were selected for England’s training squad ahead of this Sunday’s fixture.
For information about tickets for the match, which kicks off at 3.15 pm, click here.
On Saturday, England Women will face Wales (kick-off midday), and England Men will go up against Tonga (kick-off 2.30 pm) at Headingley. Ticket details for these fixtures can be found here.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for education, culture and economy, said; “Leeds has a well-deserved reputation as a top sporting city, with the major competitions and matches that have been staged here in recent times delivering an important boost to both our profile and our economy.
“The forthcoming weekend of rugby league promises to be another fine advert for the city and its ability to host innovative and inclusive large-scale events.
“It will also be great to see Nathan flying the flag for Leeds at the arena – everyone at the council wishes him all the very best for the game.”