What is Wheelchair Rugby?

Wheelchair rugby is a fast paced, full contact team sport for male and female quadriplegics (tetraplegics) looking to get involved in a team sport. 

The sport was originally called “Murderball” due to the aggressive nature of the game. It is a contact sport where collisions between wheelchairs form a major part of the game. Wheelchair rugby combines elements of rugby, basketball and handball. 

Men and women compete on the same teams and in the same competitions.  

Each team has four players on court and the aim is to score by carrying the ball across the goal line. 

Australia is currently ranked no. 1 in the world by the International Rugby Federation. 

History

Wheelchair rugby was started in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1976, as a quadriplegic equivalent to wheelchair basketball. Wheelchair rugby offered an alternative for athletes with reduced arm and hand function to participate equally. 

Wheelchair rugby was recognised as an official sport for athletes with a disability in 1993 with 15 countries competing. The same year, the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) was established. 

In 1994, wheelchair rugby was officially recognised as a Paralympic sport by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The following year, the first Wheelchair Rugby World Championships were held in Nottwill, Switzerland with 8 teams competing. In 1996, at the Atlanta Paralympic Games, wheelchair rugby was included as a demonstration sport with 6 teams competing. 

At the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, wheelchair rugby was recognised as a full medal sport for the first time. Since 2000, wheelchair rugby has been featured at every Paralympic Games. 

As of 2016, more than 40 countries actively participate in wheelchair rugby, through competition, development programs or for social recreation.

Read more - Wheelchair Rugby in Australia