Fast, aggressive and a lot of fun, wheelchair rugby is a mixed participation sport for men and women quadriplegic athletes. It’s a thrilling and uncompromising game, best summed up by its original name – murderball. And if you’ve ever seen the movie of the same name, you’ll know just how brutal it can be.
Who Can Play?
According to the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF), wheelchair rugby is open to any athlete with a disability that affects both arms and legs, such as a spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or amputation. Players are assigned different classifications, and a team must field players of various abilities.
What Equipment Do You Need?
Any manual wheelchair will do, but a lightweight sports wheelchair like a wheelchair basketball chair is best. The game is played with a white ball similar to a volleyball and four markers for the goal lines. The kind of sports clock used in basketball or handball is also required.
Wheelchair rugby is played indoors on a hardwood basketball court that must be accessible to players.
How to Play
The object of the game is to score points by carrying the ball over the opponent’s goal line, exactly as in rugby. For a goal to count, two wheels of the wheelchair must cross the line.
Dribbling or passing must occur every 10 seconds, and chair-to-chair contact – but not bodily contact – is allowed. The IWRF website has a full list of the rules of this exciting and full-on sport.
Training for Wheelchair Rugby
Game skills: Each session should focus on basic skills like offence and defence, passing and dribbling. A basic rugby drill video like those available from https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/ can be a useful tool for refining basic skills.
Weight training: Invaluable for building stamina and fitness, weight training builds muscle endurance and minimises muscle fatigue. Building this into every training session will quickly develop fitness levels necessary for this fast-paced game.
Pushing drills: These are essential for building manoeuvrability, endurance and speed. You should practise backing up, sprints, starting and stopping, and try to incorporate a fartlek element to your training.
Aerobic activities: Not only do these incorporate out of chair activities like swimming and rowing, but this kind of cross-sport training can keep things fresh and exciting.