Explaining the origins of the Fassolette-Kielty Trophy

Here’s an article from the website https://www.rugby-league.com/ explaining the origins of the Fassolette-Kielty Trophy, and the part our own Malcolm Kielty played in the development of the wheelchair game in the UK.

England and France will pay tribute to two of the key figures in the instigation and development of Wheelchair Rugby League when they contest the Fassolette-Kielty Trophy in Saturday’s second Test at Medway (TV coverage).

The Trophy was commissioned in 2012 to reflect the immense contributions to the sport of France’s Robert Fassolette and England’s Malcolm Kielty – and the live BBC coverage of both of this autumn’s internationals, hors d’oeuvres before the feasts that lie ahead in the World Cup next year, underlines the foresight of the Wheelchair Rugby League pioneers on either side of the Channel.

Robert Fassolette’s influence on French Rugby League has extended well beyond the Wheelchair game, as he has also been a key figure in the XIII Actif movement fighting for justice relating to historic mistreatment of the sport in France – in addition to working in a number of other sports, currently including Paralympic swimming.

But it was two decades ago, at the start of this century, that Fassolette and his colleague Wally Salvan devised the concept and adapted the laws of  Rugby League to enable play in a wheelchair – with the emphasis on the sport being accessible to all, and being as close as possible to the laws of the running game.

A few years later Malcolm Kielty, whose father Stan gave such outstanding service to the Halifax club from 1946-58, picked up the baton in Yorkshire – and by 2008, England were joining France in heading for Australia for the inaugural Wheelchair RL World Cup (which England won!).

Malcolm, who contracted polio as a child, was awarded the MBE in 2013.

Halifax remains a stronghold of Wheelchair Rugby League in England, with Rob Hawkins and Nathan Mulhall representing the Panthers in the current squad – while France’s performance in beating England 49-24 in the first of this autumn’s internationals earlier this week underlined the quality of the reigning world champions.

Martin Coyd OBE, the General Manager of England Wheelchair Rugby League, said: “These are exciting times for Wheelchair Rugby League, with an extra year to continue to build on the unprecedented levels of coverage and interest following the postponement of the World Cup to 2022.

“It’s absolutely right that we pay tribute to the people who made all this possible when the current England and France teams play for the Fassolette-Kielty Trophy.”