What is wheelchair rugby

Wheelchair rugby is a team sport for male and female athletes with a mobility-related disability in at least three limbs. It is a unique sport created by athletes with a disability that combines elements of basketball, handball, and ice hockey. The object of the game is to carry the ball across the opposing team’s goal line with the control of the ball. 

Murderball : first chapter of history

1977: Wheelchair rugby was invented in Winnipeg, Canada by a group of quadriplegic athletes who were looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball. They wanted a sport which would allow players with reduced arm and hand function to participate equally.  

Paralympic and WWR championnat

1994: Wheelchair Rugby was officially recognized by the International Paralympic Committee as a Paralympic sport and the first Wheelchair Rugby World Championships were held in Nottwil, Switzerland with eight teams competing. 
1996: Wheelchair rugby was included as a demonstration sport in the Atlanta Paralympic Games with 6 countries competing. 
2000: Wheelchair Rugby was included for the first time in the Paralympic Games competition program as a full-meddal sport at the Sydney Paralympic Games. It has since been featured at every Summer Paralympics. World Championships and the Paralympics are held every 4 years. 

The basics of wheelchair rugby

Who can play?

To be eligible to play wheelchair rugby, individuals must have a disability which affects the arms and legs. Most players have spinal cord injuries with full or partial paralysis of the legs and paralysis of the arms. Other disability groups who play include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, amputations, polio and other neurological conditions. Men and women compete on the same teams and in the same competitions. 
Players are assigned a sport classification based on their level of disability ; teams must field players with a mix of classification values, allowing players with different functional abilities to compete together. 


All players are assigned one of seven numerical sport classes, which is a measure of their functional ability. This number ranges from 0.5 (the least function) to 3.5 (the highest level of function) and is calculated in 0.5 increments. To determine an athlete’s class, classifiers observe athletes as they perform a variety of movements – e.g. the athletes’ limbs  for strength, flexibility, sensation and muscle tone ; and athletes’ trunks for balance and the ability to bend over, rise up and rotate. The athlete is then observed performing both ball handling and wheelchair skills prior to game play and during game play, if necessary. 

The total value of the sport classes on court for each team must not exceed 8.0 points. Teams are allowed an extra 0.5 for each female player they have on the court.

The role of the players

A player’s classification often characterizes which role he or she has the floor. Players are often split into low-pointers (least fonction) and high-pointers (highest level of fonction). High-pointers usually handle the ball, while low-pointer’s primary job is to block the opponent’s chairs.  It isn’t that black and white though, and the tactical dimension of putting together competitive lineups is a science that occupies the minds of coaches regularly. 


Athletes compete in manual wheelchairs that are specially designed for the sport. The rules include detailed specifications for the wheelchairs to ensure safety and fairness ; in international competition, all wheelchairs must meet these requirements to be considered legal for play. 

There are two types of wheelchair rugby clairs: offensive and defensive chairs. Offensive chairs are set up for speed and mobility and contain a front bumper and wings to prevent other wheelchairs contain bumpers set up to hook and hold other players.

Rules of wheelchair rugby 

Wheelchair rugby is a team sport for male and female athletes with a disability. It is played indoors on a regulation sized basketball court, with a ball similar to a volleyball. The aim is to score goals by crossing the opposing team’s goal line while in possession of the ball. The team scoring the most by the end of the game is declared the winner. 

Here are some basic rules that are good to know when watching the games. 

  • 4 players on each team
  • Maximum of 8 points together  
  • 4 periods of 8 minutes
  • The ball can be passed, thrown, batted, rolled, dribbled or carried in any direction
  • The players must dribble or pass the ball within 10 seconds
  • The ball must cross the center line within 12 seconds
  • The ball must not be played across the center line 
  • If a team does not respect these rules, they lose possession of the ball
  • If a team does not score within 40 seconds, they lose possession of the ball 
  • No player contact, but contact with ball or between chairs is allowed 
  • A player whose team has possession of the ball may not remain in the opponent’s key area for more than 10 seconds 
  • A player scores a goal by passing the ball over the opponent’s goal line
  • After a goal has been scored, or after any stoppage in play, a player has 10 seconds to inbound the ball
  • If a player does not comply with the rules, he or she can be placed in the penalty box to serve a one minute penalty or until the opponent scores their next goal

Did you know 

• A game of wheelchair rugby can never end in a tie. If a game is tied after regulation the teams will play extra time periods of three minutes until a winner is found
• If a rugby chair breaks during the games the player has only one minute to repair it, or he/she will be substituted. He/she can re-enter the game when the equipment is fixed
• All teams at national team level bring their own specialist mechanics to ensure that players are always rolling