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Wheelchair rugby

Cody Everson playing Wheelchair rugby

What is Wheelchair rugby?

Wheelchair rugby is sometimes called ‘quad rugby’ in the United States of America, and also has the nickname ‘Murderball’ because it can get brutal at times!

26 different countries compete in Wheelchair rugby. Players need ball-handling skills such as passing, catching, carrying and dribbling as well as wheelchair skills including pushing, starting, stopping, directional changes, tackling and blocking. 

Wheelchair rugby in New Zealand

New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby is the National Sports Organisation for Wheelchair rugby. They organise and support social and competitive wheelchair rugby competitions, tournaments, and events throughout New Zealand. To find a local Wheelchair rugby team, contact your regional NZWR rep.

The Wheel Blacks are the national team. The Wheel Blacks have competed at 5 Paralympic Games: Atlanta 1996 (winning bronze), Sydney 2000 (winning bronze), Athens 2004 (winning gold), Beijing 2008 (placing 5th) and Tokyo 2020 (placing 8th).

In New Zealand, Wheelchair rugby is currently played widely at the community, national and international level, with opportunities to progress to the international level.

Register with Paralympics New Zealand as an athlete, coach or volunteer to find your Para sport:

How do you play Wheelchair rugby?

Men and women play on the same teams. At least 4 players play on each team.

Each game lasts for four periods of eight minutes each, on a regular sized basketball court. Games are played indoors on a hardwood court.

When a player in possession of the ball crosses the opposition’s goal line they score a goal. When in control of the ball, players must dribble or pass the ball every ten seconds, making for a very fast-paced game. Physical contact between wheelchairs is an integral part of the game as lies within the rules.

For more information on Wheelchair rugby visit the International Wheelchair rugby Federation.

Who is eligible for Wheelchair rugby?

Wheelchair rugby is open to athletes with disabilities that include at least some loss of function in at least three limbs. Most players have spinal cord injuries but players can also qualify through multiple amputations, neurological disorders or other medical conditions. 

Read more about classification in Para sport.

Sports technology in Wheelchair rugby

Wheelchair rugby players compete in a manual wheelchair – usually custom-made sports wheelchairs specifically designed for the game. The wheelchair must comply with detailed specifications which are specified in the rules. They have a front bumper, designed to help strike and hold opposing wheelchairs, and wings in front of the main wheels to make the wheelchair more difficult to stop and hold. They must have spoke protectors, to prevent damage to the wheels, and an anti-tip device at the back.

History of Wheelchair rugby?

Wheelchair rugby was first developed in Canada in the 1970s by quadriplegic athletes. It was then presented as a demonstration sport at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games before making its debut as a medal sport at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

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