Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby

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Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby

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Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby
Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Rugby

© London 2012

Wheelchair Rugby used to be called 'Murderball' and it includes elements of Handball, Basketball and Ice Hockey. Eight competing Paralympic teams will battle it out at the Basketball Arena for the title this September.

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What is Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby?


Invented in the late '70s by a group of Canadian quadriplegic athletes, Wheelchair Rugby was actually called ‘Murderball’ at first, such is the physicality and high-level of contact between the athletes. Wheelchair Rugby actually has little in common with Rugby per se except for the name. In reality, it is a hybrid of Wheelchair Basketball, Ice Hockey and Handball, played on a regulation-size Basketball court between mixed-gender teams of four using a white circular ball very much like a volleyball. The basic objective of the game is to carry the ball across the opposition's goal line. But there are numerous rules and regulations which doesn't make this as easy as it seems: players much bounce or pass the ball within ten seconds, teams only have 12 seconds to advance the ball from their back court into the front court and a total of 40 seconds to score a point of concede possession. While contact between wheelchairs is permitted, physical contact is forbidden - and players cannot take others out from behind. That said, wheelchairs often clatter into one another, with some players even thrown to the ground. Games consist of four eight-minute quarters; two groups of four teams will contest a round-robin phase before the top two teams of each group will qualify for the semi-finals and then the gold medal match.


Who won Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby gold in Beijing in 2008?


The USA took the gold medal in 2008, beating Australia 53-44 in the final. Both sides has won their respective groups with 100% records but scraped through to the final in incredibly tight semi-final games. The USA saw off Great Britain with a 35-32 win while there was just a point between Australia and Canada, the former snatching it 41-40. Canada beat Great Britain 47-41 in the bronze medal match.


Do ParalympicsGB have a chance of winning any Wheelchair Rugby medals?


The Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby team have just missed out on medals in the last two Paralympic Games, coming 4th in 2008 and 2004. The squad came second at the 2011 European Championships. The current squad is a young team, with six players making their Paralympic debut. Only three members of the squad played in both Beijing and Athens - Andy Barrow, Ross Morrison and Jonathan Coggan. Keep an eye out for Aaron Phipps, a former marathon wheelchair racer, who will play a big role in Great Britain’s medal charge. They are in Group A, along with France, Japan and the gold medal holders USA.


Where will the Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby take place?


The London 2012 Wheelchair Rugby competition will be played at the Olympic Park's Basketball Arena from Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th September. The Basketball Arena is a temporary venue covered in 20,000 square metres of white PVC canvas and is the third largest venue in the Olympic Park. To see where all the Paralympic sports will be held, take a look at our map of the London Paralympics.


When is Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby?


The fast and furious Wheelchair Rugby tournament commences on Wednesday 5th September and runs until the final on Sunday 9th September. See our Paralympics Day-by-Day Guide for the full schedule of events.


How do I get to the Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby at the Basketball Arena?


There are numerous options when travelling to the Olympic Park. Driving is not advised due to high levels of traffic and restricted parking - limited, pre-booked parking will be available for disabled spectators. There are various public transport options. Delivering passengers from St Pancras to Stratford International in just seven minutes, the Olympic Javelin high-speed train shuttle service will take up to an estimated 25,000 travellers per hour. National Rail, Docklands Light Railway and London Overground will run trains to Stratford, Stratford International and West Ham. There are two London Underground stations that service the Olympic Park - Stratford and West Ham.


How do I get tickets for Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby?


Tickets can be purchased from More than 2.1 million of the 2.5 million available tickets have already been sold - organisers are claiming this could be the first Paralympics to sell out in the 52 year history of the Games. Twitter users could start following @2012TicketAlert, an unofficial feed set up during the Olympics which runs a check on the official site every three minutes and tweets every time a ticket becomes available.


What are the disability divisions for Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby?


Athletes are classified with a points system between 0.5 and 3.5. Athletes with the highest level of impairment are classified as 0.5 players. In general, 0.5 and 1.0 players are blockers and do not handle the ball as much as higher class players. This is mostly because of a high level of impairment in their upper limbs which means these players may not easily pick up or pass the ball. 1.5 players are predominantly blockers but may occasionally handle the ball. 2.0 and 2.5 players are both ball handlers and, due to an increasingly high level of strength in their shoulders, can build up speed on court. 3.0 and 3.5 players have a high degree of strength and stability in the trunk and are therefore usually the fastest players on court. The higher functionality in their upper limbs means they can handle and pass the ball comparatively easily.

In international Wheelchair Rugby the total number of points of all four athletes playing on court at any one time cannot exceed 8.0 points unless there is a female on the court, in which case the team are allowed an extra 0.5.  A team may play with a line-up that totals less than this but never more.


When did Wheelchair Rugby first appear at the Paralympics?


Wheelchair rugby appeared in Atlanta in 1996 as a demonstration sport – it was only played in order to promote itself, not for competition – before making its full debut in Sydney in 200 as a medal-awarding sport. The USA have won two of the three golds in its history, in 2000 and 2008, with New Zealand winning the other in 2004. Great Britain have never won a medal.





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