Rugby league provides joy for a Wigan seven-year-old with special needs

A seven-year-old from Wigan has received a special visit from the Challenge Cup after a video of him went viral online.

By Amos Wynn
Monday, 1st August 2022, 4:55 am

Joshua Winstanley, who is deaf and has learning disabilities, loves nothing more than being with his brother Samuel’s U10s rugby team at Westhoughton Lions.

A video of him being allowed to run through for a try has recently received thousands of views on Facebook, which prompted Wigan Warriors to make contact.

Joshua’s dad Scott said: “It’s gone through the roof, it’s been more successful than I actually anticipated.

Joshua with Westhoughton Lions U10s (Credit: Billie Yates)

“When Joshua was born he contracted a virus called CMV, which attacks all the internal organs like the brain and hearing. If it’s not stopped it can be fatal.

“He was in hospital for six weeks to try and prevent it, but it made him deaf and put spots on his brain.

“We’ve had a tough time with him, but the one thing that seems to keep him happy is when he watches his brother play rugby.

“I coach Westhoughton Lions U10s, so from the age of seven he’s always come with us in a little kit.

Joshua Winstanley received a visit from the Challenge Cup (Credit: Billie Yates)

“Last couple of times we’ve asked teams if he can have a little run to let him score.

“You can see the joy on his face, if I could bottle it then I would. It is absolutely amazing. In his head he thinks he is part of the team. For 15 seconds he just feels amazing.

“No matter which team we play, the supporters cheer him on.

“I just videoed him, and didn’t expect much of it, but it’s gone massive and opened a lot of people’s eyes.

“I’ve had messages from ex-players saying how good it is, it’s just unreal. Wigan Warriors contacted us asking if he wanted to do something with them.”