Adam Hills: Comedian donates profits of documentary to UK's five PDRL clubs

By Andrew AloiaBBC Sport
Adam Hills playing rugby with Warrington Wolves

Comedian Adam Hills has gone from being a trailblazing physical disability rugby league player to a major benefactor for the sport.

The Australian TV personality is the highest-profile player to lace up his boots for a game of PDRL. He introduced himself to the sport by throwing an intercepted pass that resulted in the first try being scored in the English game before eventually going on to conquer the world with Warrington Wolves.

Now with all competition on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the financial fallout hitting rugby league hard in the United Kingdom, he has donated money to all five PDRL clubs with a sense of parental pride.

"I feel very responsible for it, almost like a parent as I was there as it came into the world," he told BBC Sport.

"I just want to give it the best start it can possibly have. I believe in the sport of PDRL so much. I've loved it.

"It has been completely life-changing for me and I know it has been for my team-mates and all the other people who play it."

The 50-year-old has given profits from his documentary, Take His Legs - which charts the game's inception in the northern hemisphere and Warrington Wolves' journey to claiming the World Club Challenge trophy in Australia - to the charitable arm of the Cheshire club as well as Leeds Rhinos, Wakefield Trinity, Castleford Tigers and Wigan Warriors.

As a project that Hills initially self-funded, he was keen to put money back into the sport after its success on Channel 4 and its export to Australia.

"I just felt bad taking all the money. I got so much out of it," he said.

"I ended up playing rugby league again. We played at Anfield, at the Halliwell Jones, at ANZ and did all this amazing stuff, and for me that is what I got out of it. So I wanted to make sure that some of the profits went to the foundations.

"I gave some money to the Wolves Foundation, ended up sponsoring the training kit with some of the profits, and had some left over so wanted to make sure that all foundations benefit from this.

"Warrington started up the first PDRL team in the UK, but if it wasn't for Leeds, Wigan, Castleford and Wakefield we wouldn't have had anyone to play against. If not for them we wouldn't have a competition.

"I felt that as much as we are enemies on the field, we all have a drink afterwards and we are all bonded by this common experience of having disabilities and being able to play rugby league. We are all a bit of a family."

Leeds Rhinos Foundation welcomed the money as an "amazing gesture" during the trying financial times of the health crisis.

"It is very welcomed in these times of uncertainty," said Gareth Cook, head of community and engagement at Leeds.

"Any donation, big or small, is always well received.

"We got an email out of the blue from Adam saying we would get a donation from the profits from this documentary that we all watched. It is very generous and he didn't have to do it.

"For us, it will go towards buying new kit for the team next year. It really shows the togetherness of rugby league."

Hills said he always intended to share takings from the show, adding that it was the "best time" for the money to be made available.

While competition has been put on hold this year, there are plans to relaunch in the coming months, with hopes also high that the sport will be included in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

"Some have never had a chance to play rugby league, while some of us did and had it taken away, so it feels like we have just rediscovered it again," he said.

"The thing I've learned through all this is that sport goes hand in hand with mental health, especially disability sport.

"It is not just about playing rugby league, it's about turning up to train every week and having a whole bunch of guys that you can call your mates that you can bond with and who understand disability but don't necessarily have to talk abut it.

"It's so good for everyone's mental health and something we are all missing that at the moment.

"Charities are all being hit, and yes I was always going to distribute money to the foundations, but now with lockdown and Covid it is even more important."