What Is Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair rugby is an exciting full-contact team sport for athletes with a mobility-related impairment in at least three limbs. It is a unique sport created by athletes with a disability that combines some elements of basketball, handball and ice hockey. The object of the game is to carry the ball across the opposing team’s goal line while the opposing team tries to stop their progress.
History of the Sport
Wheelchair rugby was invented in 1977 in Winnipeg, Canada, by a group of athletes with quadriplegia who were looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball. They wanted a sport that would allow players with reduced arm and hand function to participate equally. The sport they created, originally called Murderball, is now known as wheelchair rugby.
Wheelchair rugby first appeared outside Canada in 1979 at a demonstration at Southwest State University in Minnesota. The first Canadian National Championship was held the same year. The first team in the United States was formed in 1981 and the first international tournament, which brought together teams from the US and Canada, was held in 1982. Throughout the 1980s, other local and national tournaments took place in various countries. The first international tournament was held in 1989 in Toronto, Canada, with teams from Canada, the USA and Great Britain. This was a breakthrough for developing international competition and co-operation.
The first Wheelchair Rugby World Championships were held in Notwil, Switzerland, in 1995, with eight teams competing. In 1996, Wheelchair rugby was included as a demonstration sport in the Atlanta Paralympic Games.
Wheelchair Rugby was included for the first time in the Paralympic Games competition program as a full-medal sport at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Since then, it has become one of the most popular and exciting Paralympic sports. Wheelchair rugby is currently actively played in over 40 countries around the world.
At the international level, most players use custom-made chairs meant to fit their size and specifications. There are two types of rugby chairs: Offensive and Defensive chairs. Offensive chairs that are set up for speed and mobility and are usually used by players with more function (Class 2.0 and up). Offensive chairs have a front bumper with wings to brush off of contact and prevent other players from hooking onto it. Defensive chairs are designed to hook onto and hold other chairs; they have a “pick bar” on the front. These chairs are usually used by players with less function (1.5 and below). Athletes also use a variety of gloves, sleeves and pads to improve grip and protect their bodies.
The game is played with a white ball identical in size and shape to a regulation volleyball. In addition to the ball, four cones, pylons or other similar markers are required to mark the ends of the try lines. A game clock is also required; any clock used for basketball, handball or other similar sports will be sufficient.
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