Sale Sharks and Saracens to wear mismatched socks to promote World Down Syndrome day

Sale Sharks and Saracens to wear mismatched socks to promote World Down Syndrome day

Stars from Saracens and Sale Sharks will wear mismatched socks to promote World Down Syndrome Day when the two clubs collide in Gallagher Premiership Rugby and Allianz Premier15s this weekend. 

Saracens Women will welcome Sharks to StoneX Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with Alex Sanderson's Sharks side the hosts in the men’s fixture at the AJ Bell on Sunday.

World Down Syndrome Day, on 21st March, aims to promote inclusion, fair treatment and equal opportunity for people who have Down’s syndrome, encouraging others to show their support by wearing eye-catching odd socks.

And just hours after being selected in England's squad for the 2023 TikTok Women's Six Nations, Saracens star Ella Wyrwas emphasised the importance of a close relationship between a club's foundation and their men and women's first team.

"I know from a Saracens perspective, it is amazing," she said.

"We have players who come down to pretty much every week of our disability rugby sessions.

"Both women's and men's players, we have a few that are really regular and amazing with it.

"The likes of Sean Maitland and Jackson Wray who have just built amazing relationships with the participants, who have continued to come down and support them and show what kind of role models they are.

"For those participants to then see the people who mean a lot to them and who they aspire to be put their weight behind World Down Syndrome Day is amazing.

"Loads of our disabled young people who attend the programmes come down to the women's games, the men's games, they go on tour to go and watch both teams play away.

"It is always such a special event and they are always excited to see the people who interact with them on a weekly basis out on the pitch.

"I have built some amazing relationships with the participants and not only am I supporting them, but they are supporting me."

Wyrwas works full-time for the Saracens Foundation as a disability projects office, meaning she runs many of the projects herself.

Another star set to be involved in the clash at StoneX Stadium on Saturday is Sharks’ Brand and Community Manager, Vicky Irwin, who, along with Sharks co-captain and Sale Sharks Foundation’s Community Programme Manager Georgie Perris-Redding, was pivotal in setting up the Sharks Crusaders Fin Club.

Irwin hopes that the small gesture of wearing mismatched socks can start a wider conversation about how society treats people who have Down’s syndrome.

She said: "I think a small gesture can go a long way, and it will make people watching the game question why we are doing it and want to find out more. 

“This is something we have done now for the past two seasons but this is a landmark weekend because not only is it the first time we have had both teams wearing odd socks but it’s the first time both the men’s and the women’s from two clubs have done so. 

“I am really excited for weekend, and I can’t wait to play a part in what will be fantastic for the Down’s syndrome Community.

"When they find out or Google why, we will be able to have a wider conversation about it which normalises everything.

"I think inclusivity is what sets rugby apart from every other sport.

"The rugby family is so inclusive and Sale Sharks' Crusaders Fin Club are evidence of that.

"They are treated no differently, they train at the Carrington training complex and have star studded guests at every session from Raffi Quirke, Bevan Rodd, Lauren Delany to name just a few 

"Everybody at the Club loves the Crusaders and the love they have for rugby and we love engaging with them."

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