Adaptive sports: Have you heard the one about the Welshman from West Norfolk who has been picked to play rugby league for Scotland?
But this is no joke, Watlington’s Pete Lauder is following in the tracks of his father Wilson, who scored for the Scots in a 1974 16-14 win over England at Murrayfield during an 18-cap international career.
Lauder junior, who is 43 next Sunday, was born in Bridgend but qualifies to wear the national tartan due to his dad.
The multi-talented former RAF sergeant has been selected for the Scottish wheelchair rugby league side, having already earned a place in the Great Britain Paralympic sitting volleyball squad.
Lauder, who now works for the NHS in Cambridge said: “Coming from Wales I was introduced to rugby while at primary school and continued playing until I joined the RAF.
“In the RAF I played for a number of military and civilian clubs, including West Norfolk, RAF Marham and Swaffham.
“Due to various injuries, I retired from playing rugby in 2009 and undertook a referee course and continued in the sport, officiating at both military and civilian matches until 2014.”
Lauder’s rugby career effectively ended at this point when he was diagnosed with a labral tear of the left hip, which required a hip resurface.
With complications, and not allowed to do any impact sports, he was introduced to adaptive sports via Help for Heroes and took up competitive swimming.
However, he suffered a hip fracture in 2019 and underwent a full hip replacement. He still suffers with nerve damage and a loss of feeling in portions of the leg.
Continuing with adaptive sports he was selected to represent the UK at the US Department of Defense Warrior Games in Chicago in 2017, competing in swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
Competing in wheelchair basketball matches and trials for the Invictus Games, he was introduced to wheelchair rugby by Scottish international John Willans.
“I know my injury pales into insignificance to some guys I met who have lost limbs but some of the people I work with who have injuries have sat back and I didn’t want to do that.
“I’m trying to change people’s perspective in that even though you are injured, you can still do something.”
Although there are no local teams, Lauder trains regularly at Alive Downham and continues to learn the nuances of his new sport, in the hope of making the Scotland team at both the Tri-nations and Rugby League World Cup.
He gained his first representative caps for Scotland at the Celtic Cup in Edinburgh last month, playing in a
102-18 defeat to eventual champions Wales and in a
52-32 defeat against Ireland.
“My goal is to be selected for Scotland in September, to play for them in the Wheelchair World Cup in November in Sheffield,” said Lauder.
The wheelchair event is part of the Rugby League World Cup, which brings together the greatest male and female teams and players.
All games will be shown live on BBC television.
Scotland will open their campaign against the USA on November 12 before matches against France and Wales.
Lauder is keen to see more opportunities offered for adaptive sports in East Anglia and said: “Being an active sportsman and sustaining an injury, I have had to learn to adapt and try new sports.
“That is something that Norfolk is lacking, a way for people of all ages and disabilities to come together and play sport.
“I am looking for new players and potentially raising the awareness of this up and coming sport to generate interest within the area with the aim of starting a team for this region.”
Lauder is linking up with Victoria Rush at Lynnsport to see if there is any uptake in interest in wheelchair sport and said: “I think if there is interest it is something we can approach with setting up contacts.
“If people want to learn more about wheelchair rugby, please visit the Scotland Rugby League Facebook page at www.facebook.com/scotlandrl”