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Wheelchair rugby coach Tom Coyd is made an MBE and hails sport’s ‘bonkers’ rise

One of the masterminds who helped England become Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup champions on home soil has been made an MBE.

England Wheelchair Rugby League head coach Tom Coyd, 28, described recognition for the sport as “bonkers” since the World Cup victory in 2022.

Mr Coyd, of Gillingham, Kent, was speaking after receiving the honour for his service to wheelchair rugby league from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle.

The success of being world champions has seen a growth in the sport and there are now nearly 50 active clubs, up from 20, while the number of players, which stood at around 200 before the World Cup is now around 500, according to Mr Coyd.

“It includes men, women and young children and it is the most diverse group of any sport, I would say, because I feel it is the most inclusive sport in the world,” he added.

There are test matches against France this winter and the next World Cup is in 2026 where the aim will be to defend the title.

On Wednesday, he said: “It has been bonkers and (it feels like) the fastest 18 months of my life ever.

“We have gone on to be recognised and have more experiences than we every dreamed of.

“All we planned for was the last minute of the World Cup final, we did not plan any further ahead than that because all we had to do was to get that job done.”

England clinched World Cup final victory over France in November 2022. The final was played in Manchester.

After finishing top of their group, England had went on to defeat Wales in the semi-final before beating the defending champions France in the final.

Founded in 2004 in France, wheelchair rugby league replicates the fast-paced nature of rugby league, with players in wheelchairs.

In the two years that followed, the game was introduced to England and continued to develop until a first World Cup was hosted in 2008.

Princess of Wales visits Hull
The Princess of Wales was’amazing’ when she tried wheelchair rugby, Tom Coyd said (Scott Heppell/PA)

There has been a range of events since the World Cup victory put the team into the public spotlight.

This included being guests of honour at the men’s and women’s Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, invitations to a reception at Hampton Court, and the Princess of Wales visiting Hull for a celebration of inclusion in rugby league.

Of Kate’s wheelchair rugby prowess, Mr Coyd said: “She was amazing. I have never seen anyone kick a goal on their first ever attempt. She knocked it over the posts.

“I do not know if she had done any video analysis but she seemed to know what she was doing.”