Doug signs the rugby word

AUSTRALIA hasn’t had many sporting teams come back from New Zealand with success in recent years, but Port Macquarie’s Doug Piper knows what it feels like to win across the ditch.

But winning isn’t what matters, Piper says, and he’s spreading the word about the great Australian team he’s involved with.

Piper is the trainer of the Australian deaf rugby team, which has just returned from its latest New Zealand tour.

The two teams played just the single Test match this time around, and the Aussies were victorious 22-20.

“There aren’t too many winning teams coming back from New Zealand these days,” he said.

Piper, a former teacher of deaf children, became involved with the team in 2004, when an advertisement went out for managers and coaches.

“I threw my hat into the ring,” he said.

A two-week tour of New Zealand followed. Australia played two Test matches and three other tour games.

“They only lost the last Test,” Piper said. “New Zealand squared the series and retained the Cochlear Cup, the buggers.”

Piper said the players, who range from completely deaf to partially impaired, were “keen as mustard”, and were brought together by their love of rugby.

“Some have Cochlear implants, and have some hearing,” he said. “Some are sign-dependent.

 “They have various occupations and come from all over the country.”

 He has no problem communicating.

“Sign was my teaching language for 12 years,” Piper said.

There are plenty of big games in the pipeline for the team. A possible tour by the deaf British Lions is on the cards for next year, along with the Pacific Rim Championships and the return clash with the deaf All Blacks.

With training sessions hard to organise and few and far between, the team is always on the lookout for a run against a rugby club.

Piper is also keen on getting more players involved.

For more information about the team, or how you can help out, phone Doug Piper on 0403 181 500. You can also visit the Deaf Rugby Australia  Facebook page.

Spreading the word: Doug Piper flashes the "piper" sign he uses with the players.

Spreading the word: Doug Piper flashes the "piper" sign he uses with the players.