Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby is a team sport for athletes of any gender with an impairment. A unique sport created by athletes with disabilities. Athletes compete in teams of four to carry the ball across the opposing team’s try line. Contact between wheelchairs is permitted, and is an integral part of the sport as athletes use their chairs to block and hold opponents.
Wheelchair Rugby athletes compete in manual wheelchairs specifically designed for the sport. Athletes must be eligible to participate in accordance with the classification rules of the sport. A full medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, with thirty countries competing in international competition and many more developing national programs.
Who can play?
For eligibility to play Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby, individuals must have an impairment which affects the arms and legs. Athletes may have a spinal cord trauma, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, amputations, polio, and other neurological conditions with full or partial paralysis of the legs and partial paralysis of the arms. Any gender competes within the same team and competitions.
Athletes are assigned a sport classification based on their level of impairment; teams must field athletes with a mix of classification values, allowing players with different functional abilities to compete together.
The WWR International Rule is applicable in relation to athletes identifying as female. For each female player on the court a team will be allowed an extra 0.5 points over and above the 3.5 points for the team.
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.
The sport is played with a round ball. Due to the unique nature of the sport and the athletes’ impairments, a round ball ensures that a game flows better due to the more predictable nature of the bounce. A round ball is also easier to throw and catch which is a major dynamic within the sport.
Two posts are used to mark the key areas at the end of each court. A game clock is also required to time the periods of play, penalties, and time-outs.
What facilities are required?
Wheelchair Rugby is played indoors on a court measuring 15 metres wide and 28 metres long. Hardwood is the preferred surface, although other surfaces can be used. The playing surface must be accessible to people in wheelchairs.