What is Wheelchair Rugby

Traditional rugby is often considered to be pretty rough, but it doesn’t really hold a candle to wheelchair rugby, which is, with good reason, often referred to as Murderball. This sport first became popular in Canada during the later part of the nineteen-seventies and today is played worldwide.

Wheelchair rugby is also sometimes called quad rugby, because one of the requirements is that all of the players must be quadriplegic. This means they must have a disability that affects each of their four extremities. It is played by both men and women a hardwood court the size of a regulation basketball court. Not only is physical contact allowed between players, it is an important part of the game.

The rules of this sport are based in part off of wheelchair basketball and ice hockey. The court is designed very similar to that of a soccer field. There is a center line and circle and at either end of the court there is a key. In order to score, a player must bring the ball through the key and across the goal line. Up to three defensive players are allowed in the key at any time and offensive players can only remain in the opposite teams key for up to ten seconds.

Up to eight players can be on the court at any time, with four on each team. When a player gains possession of the ball, they must pass it or dribble it within ten seconds. Other players are allowed to make physical contact with each others wheelchairs and it can get pretty aggressive, but unsafe contact, such as hitting a player from behind, is not allowed. Players are also not allowed to make physical contact with each others bodies.

While it is pretty rough, players can still receive infractions for fouls. Generally players who commit a foul, like striking an opponent from behind or illegally using their hands, is given a one minute penalty or have to give up possession of the ball. Occasionally the opposing team will be awarded a point in place of a penalty.

Much like wheelchair basketball, players of wheelchair rugby are classified based off of the level of their disability. They are ranked from .5 to 3.5 and at no point can the total number of points of active players on the court exceed eight.

Since wheelchair rugby can get very rough, it is necessary for players to use a specially reinforced wheelchair. A lot of players choose to have their chair custom made, but there are a list of specifications they must meet. They must have a front bumper, to improve striking, but also to protect the player. The bumper must extend out in front of the wheels. This extension is called a wing and makes it more difficult for the wheelchair to be stopped.

Wheelchair rugby is very popular today and after the most recent Paralympics, it has become even more so. Currently more than twenty countries actively participate in wheelchair rugby on a professional level.

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