WELSH Paralympic champion Jim Roberts has hailed the staging of the 2023 World Wheelchair Rugby European Championship at the Principality Stadium as “fantastic” and “brilliant for the sport”.

The eight-team event, held in the iconic Cardiff venue from May 3-7, will act as a qualifier for Paris 2024, with the top two teams automatically qualifying for the Paralympic Games.

Britain, who claimed a historic gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics this summer, have won the last three European Championships.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and Principality Stadium were at the forefront of supporting the championship coming to Wales and being staged in the home of Welsh rugby.

The stadium is set to give athletes an opportunity to perform in a venue which reflects their standing as elite athletes in front of a passionate rugby-loving crowd.

“What a time for wheelchair rugby!” said Roberts. “I was honoured to represent GB in Tokyo this summer and to return home with a gold medal was amazing.

“Now to have GBWR (Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby) showcase such a major event in my home country is just fantastic and I have no doubt that this is going to be brilliant for the sport I’ve spent so much time involved with.

“I don’t believe there is anywhere more passionate about rugby than Wales and our world-class stadium will showcase wheelchair rugby at its very best.

“I am passionate about promoting the game and will be fully behind the community engagement planned as we aim to leave a true and lasting legacy in Wales.”

Community engagement and legacy were essential components of the winning bid and will form an important element in the championship.

The intention is to build on the work of GBWR and the WRU to ensure a meaningful legacy with the tournament organisers working closely with the Welsh Government, Cardiff City Council, schools and colleges, the WRU, Disability Sport Wales, UK Sport and GBWR.

While helping the community to better understand the challenges faced by those who are disabled, a key focus will also be on inspiration and motivation, demonstrating that disability is no barrier to an individual achieving their dreams.

Alongside the tournament will be a festival of entertainment which will include a celebrity wheelchair rugby match.

Deputy minister for arts and sport Dawn Bowden said: “The Welsh Government are proud champions of disability sport and we’re absolutely delighted to welcome this event to Wales – the spiritual home of rugby.

“We’re committed to help shape a more inclusive sport sector where every person, regardless of background or ability, can access and enjoy sport.

“Hosting high profile events like this will only work to support that goal.”

WRU community director Geraint John added: “We’re delighted to host the World Wheelchair Rugby European Championship at Principality Stadium.

“Wheelchair rugby is a thrilling brand of rugby, and an integral part of our Disability Rugby strategy.

“We are working hard, alongside partners such as GBWR, to increase inclusive opportunities across all formats so that everyone can take part in our national sport and there is no doubt that hosting these championships will create a real legacy in terms of the growth of this exciting sport.”

An event delivery committee chaired by David Pond, former CEO of GBWR who led the team to victory in Tokyo and masterminded the successful bid, will be responsible for delivering the championships and also include former Wales rugby international Rupert Moon, Welsh gold medal Paralympian swimmer Liz Johnson and wheelchair rugby star Roberts.