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As one of the only full-contact disability sports, it is little wonder wheelchair rugby, aka ‘murderball’ was one of the biggest hits of the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The sport is open to both men and women, and is one of the only games which allows them to compete on the same team.
But it’s not only players who are welcome; there are loads of opportunities to play your part on the sidelines too. Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby are constantly on the look out for referees, coaches, officials and support staff to help at training sessions and tournaments. Get in touch with them if you’re interested in finding out more.
Wheelchair rugby’s no-holds-barred nature quickly earned it the nickname ‘murderball’ soon after its inception. It’s a game loaded with full-contact, hard hits, speed and physical determination, making it a thrilling watch.
The game is played on a basketball court, with boundary lines, a centre line, centre circle and two key areas. Two cones at each end of the court mark out a goal area, and a goal is scored when a player carries a ball across the line.
Games are played in four eight-minute quarters and each team has 40 seconds to score a goal before the ball gets turned over. Chair-to-chair contact is allowed, but person-to-chair and person-to-person contact is not.
Teams are made up of up to 12 players, with four on court at any one time. Each person has a vital role to play, which is ensured by using a classification system based on muscle function and strength. Classes range from 0.5 to 3.5, and the team of four players must total eight points or less during play.
For the full rules of the game and more information on the sport’s classification system, check out the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation website.
Who can play?
Wheelchair rugby is originally for athletes with spinal injuries that affect all four limbs, such as quadriplegics and tetraplegics. However, any athlete with a disability that affects all four limbs can play the sport which uses a classification system based on muscle function and strength. 0.5 is the least able player and 3.5 is the most able player. The four players on court cannot total over 8 points.