Get to know one of the most fascinating para sports on the Paralympic Programme.
Wheelchair Rugby is a mixed team sport for male and female athletes. A unique sport created by athletes with a disability, it combines elements of rugby, basketball and handball. Players compete in teams of four to carry the ball across the opposing team's goal line. Contact between wheelchairs is permitted, and is in fact an integral part of the sport as players use their chairs to block and hold opponents.
Wheelchair Rugby players compete in manual wheelchairs specifically designed for the sport. Players must meet minimum disability criteria and be classifiable under the sport classification rules. Wheelchair Rugby is a Paralympic sport, with twenty-six countries competing in international competition and more than ten others developing national programs.
Who can play?
To be eligible to play Wheelchair Rugby, individuals must have a disability which affects the arms and legs. Most players have spinal cord injuries with full or partial paralysis of the legs and partial paralysis of the arms. Other disability groups who play include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, amputations, polio, and other neurological conditions. Men and women compete on the same teams and in the same competitions.
Players are assigned a sport classification based on their level of disability; teams must field players with a mix of classification values, allowing players with different functional abilities to compete together.
What equipment is needed?
Athletes compete in manual wheelchairs that are specifically built for the sport. The rules include detailed specifications for wheelchairs to ensure safety and fairness. In international competition, all wheelchairs must meet these requirements.
To begin playing, any manual wheelchair may be used, although the game is easier when played in a lightweight sports wheelchair such as a wheelchair basketball chair.
The game is played with a white ball, similar to a volleyball. Four cones, pylons, or markers are used to mark the goal lines. A game clock is also required; any clock used for basketball, handball, or other similar sports will be sufficient.
What facilities are required?
Wheelchair Rugby is played indoors on a regulation sized basketball court. Hardwood is the preferred surface, although other surfaces are acceptable. The playing surface must be accessible to people in wheelchairs. Any facility used for wheelchair basketball can also be used for Wheelchair Rugby.