Wheelchair rugby, sometimes called quad rugby, is a full contact team sport that was conceived in Winnipeg, Canada in 1977. The sport, which was originally called murderball, was created by a group of quadriplegics who wanted an alternative to wheelchair basketball that athletes with limited arm and hand function could play.
Wheelchair rugby combines elements of handball, ice hockey, and basketball. The International Paralympic Committee officially recognized quad rugby as a paralympic sport in 1994.
Despite its name, quad rugby has very little in common with the sport of rugby football.
Wheelchair rugby is played on an indoor court that’s roughly the same size as a basketball court. Hardwood is the preferred playing surface for quad rugby. Quad rugby players compete in manual wheelchairs and play with a white ball that’s the same size and shape as a volley ball.
Players can use any manual wheelchair, but lightweight sports wheelchairs are ideal. The goal lines in a wheelchair rugby court are typically marked by cones. A game clock and shot clock, such as the ones used during basketball games, are also required.
The object of quad rugby is to score a goal by crossing the goal line with the ball while the opposing team is defending the goal. The team that accumulates the most points when the time is up wins the game. If the score is tied, additional overtime periods are played until one team wins.
Who Is Eligible to Play
Quad rugby is a mixed gender sport, so there are no separate teams for men and women. To be eligible to play, an individual must have a disability that affects the arms and legs and be capable of propelling a manual wheelchair with his/her arms.
Rules of the Game
Wheelchair rugby is typically played by two teams comprised of up to twelve players. Only four players from each team are allowed on the court at one time.
A game lasts about an hour and 15 minutes and consists of four eight-minute quarters. There’s a two-minute break between the first and third quarters, and a five-minute break at halftime.
Competition starts with a tip-off between two players (one from each team) at the center of the court. During the tip-off, the referee tosses the ball up into the air and the players try to tip the ball towards one of their teammates. The game clock starts when a player touches the ball.
The two players in the center of the court are not allowed to take possession of the ball until it has touched the floor or has been touched by another player.
Once a player takes possession of the ball, his/her team has exactly 40 seconds to score a goal. Players are required to bounce or pass the ball within 10 seconds.
For a goal to count, both wheels of a player’s wheelchair must cross the goal line while the player is carrying the ball. The player can hold the ball in his hands, on his lap, or against his chair. Physical contact between wheelchairs is permitted, but personal contact between players is not allowed. Players who commit fouls during the game are penalized.
The International Wheel chair Rugby Foundation (IWRF) governs the sport of quad rugby on an international level. Prior to January of 2010, the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) governed quad rugby. In the US, the United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) governs the sport.
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