Wheelchair rugby, the handisport equivalent of rugby, has been gaining in popularity and notoriety for many years. It was included in the Paralympic programme at the Sydney Games in 2000 and is now a major sport. However, wheelchair rugby has a few specific features that are not always well known to the public. Here’s a quick overview to help you get ready for the International Wheelchair Rugby Cup!
To get to the heart of the matter, there is a first key specificity to be aware of. Wheelchair rugby is the only Paralympic team sport played by both men and women in manual wheelchairs. Unlike wheelchair basketball or goalball, men and women play together and can compete against each other.
Wheelchair rugby is played on a basketball court with a volley ball, instead of on a 100-metre long grass pitch. It is played by athletes with at least 3 disabilities, graded between 0.5 and 3.5 points according to their motor and functional abilities. Each team plays with 4 players on the court, for a total of 8 points.
There are two kinds of chair, depending on the characteristics of the athletes. An offensive chair, for players of class 2.5 to 3.5, with a reinforced bumper to absorb contact. A defensive chair, for players in classes 0.5 to 2, with a grid to catch strikers.
The aim is the same as in rugby: score as many tries as possible. But there’s no need to flatten the ball, just cross the back line in possession of the ball. A try scored is equal to 1 point. Teams have 40 seconds to score a try, which makes the game dynamic and provides an opportunity to see many different team combinations. It’s also a very physical sport, as all contact with the front of the chair is allowed.
To get a better understanding of all these particularities, as well as seeing all the points in common with rugby, all you have to do is get your ticket to see this show at the Halle Carpentier and the Accor Arena: you won’t be disappointed!