Sharks’ Down Syndrome team led out the players ahead of Sale’s clash with league leaders Saracens – and the Sharks Fin Crusaders Club players’ families were all there to see it thanks to Printerland.
The top of the table showdown fell just before World Down Syndrome Day 2023 and both sides wore odd socks to celebrate the ‘Lots of Socks’ campaign, launched to raise awareness and increase public awareness about the genetic condition.
People with Down’s Syndrome have an extra copy of the sock-shaped 21st chromosome and people supporting the campaign were encouraged to wear odd socks.
The day before the men’s fixture, Sharks Women and Saracens also wore odd socks for their Premier15s clash at the StoneX Stadium.
Sharks came out on top in the men’s game, which was part of a weekend of activity demonstrating the club’s ongoing commitment to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to play rugby.
That commitment is matched by Altrincham-based club partner Printerland. The firm has handed out more than 10,000 matchday tickets to local charities in recent years, through programmes designed to introduce underrepresented groups in the North West to the game of rugby.
Sale Sharks Brand and Community Manager and Women’s player Vicky Irwin said: “This was our third year of wearing odd socks in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day.
“Our ethos as a club is being much more than rugby, and we have the world’s first down syndrome rugby team, which is growing year on year. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to play rugby and we are leading the way on this.
“The Sharks Crusaders Fin Club are part of our club DNA, and we will continue to raise awareness and support the community through internal club activities.
“Programmes like this need the support of partners like Printerland. Their commitment to growing the game and making sure everyone has the chance to get involved is perfectly aligned to what we’re trying to do.”
Printerland have been a long-standing partner of Sale Sharks having first agreed a deal back in 2004 to sponsor the Cheadle End of the club’s former home ground at Edgeley Park, before becoming official Family Stand sponsors at the AJ Bell Stadium in 2016.
In 2021 they extended their deal, which sees Printerland continue to deliver an inclusivity programme in the local region, supported by the Sale Sharks Foundation.
The Sharks Crusaders Fin Club was launched in 2020 and named in recognition of Sean Browne, who played for the team until his death last year. His favourite team was the New Zealand Super Rugby side, the Crusaders.
Down Syndrome rugby sessions are held every other Sunday at Sharks’ Carrington training ground. To find out more about Sale Sharks’ Shark Fin Crusaders Club, visit Disability & Inclusive Tag Rugby | Sale Sharks.