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Wheelchair Rugby: Rules, Events and Information

Outline: Information, coming events, and rules for wheelchair rugby, a Paralympic Games and team sport for athletes with disabilities. Wheelchair Rugby was originally called Murderball - in the US it is called quad rugby. Wheelchair rugby is a mixed sport, with men and women competing on the same teams.

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Wheelchair rugby is a team sport for athletes with a disability. Developed in Canada in the late 1970s, it is currently practiced in over twenty countries around the world and is a Paralympic sport.

The sport's original name was murderball; in the United States, it is referred to as quad rugby. Certain formats of wheelchair rugby require that all players are quadriplegic, while others call for impairment of at least three limbs of the individual players. The majority of wheelchair rugby athletes have spinal cord injuries at the level of their cervical vertebrae. Other eligible players have multiple amputations, polio, or neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, some forms of muscular dystrophy, or Guillain-Barre syndrome, among other medical conditions.

Wheelchair rugby is a mixed sport, with men and women competing on the same teams and is played indoors on a hardwood court. Wheelchair Rugby is played in a manual wheelchair. The rules include detailed specifications for the wheelchair. Many players use custom-made sports wheelchairs that are specifically designed for wheelchair rugby. Key design features include a front bumper, designed to help strike and hold opposing wheelchairs, and wings, which are positioned in front of the main wheels to make the wheelchair more difficult to stop and hold.

All wheelchairs must be equipped with spoke protectors, to prevent damage to the wheels, and an anti-tip device at the back. The rules include elements of wheelchair basketball, ice hockey, and handball. It is a contact sport and physical contact between wheelchairs is an integral part of the game.

Player Classifications

Players are classified according to their functional level and assigned a point value ranging from 0.5 (the lowest functional level) to 3.5 (the highest).

The total classification value of all players on the court for a team at one time cannot exceed eight points.

Wheelchair rugby classification is conducted by personnel with medical training, usually physicians, physiotherapists, or occupational therapists. Classifiers must also be trained in muscle testing and in the details of wheelchair rugby classification.

Athletes are permitted to appeal their classification if they feel they have not been properly evaluated. Athletes can be granted a permanent classification if they demonstrate a stable level of function over a series of classification tests.

Wheelchair Rugby Rules

A wheelchair rugby demonstration is just one of the many sponsored events and activities of Warrior Care Month (2015), which has the theme, Show of Strength. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard).
A wheelchair rugby demonstration is just one of the many sponsored events and activities of Warrior Care Month (2015), which has the theme, Show of Strength. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard).

Wheelchair Rugby League

Wheelchair rugby league is a version of wheelchair rugby based expressly on rugby league. It was developed by French rugby league player, coach and official, Robert Fassolette in 2004. The game shares many feature with regular rugby league:

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