Rules of Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Rugby was developed in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1976, as a quadriplegic equivalent to wheelchair basketball.
Wheelchair rugby is an intense, physical team sport for male and female athletes with quadriplegia (tetraplegia).
The sport was originally called “Murderball” due to the aggressive nature of the game. It is a contact sport where collisions between wheelchairs form a major part of the game.
Each team has four players on court and the aim is to score by carrying the ball across the goal line.
Australia is currently ranked no. 2 in the world by the International Rugby Federation, but not for long!
How to Play
Wheelchair rugby is played indoors on a hard floor court with the same measurements as a basketball court (28 metres long by 15 metres wide).
The aim is to score goals by crossing the opposing team’s goal line while in possession of the ball. The goal line is situated on the base line of the court and is 8 metres wide. In order for the goal to be counted two wheels of the wheelchair must be across the goal line.
A volleyball is used and may be passed, thrown, battled, rolled, dribbled, or carried in any direction subject to the restrictions laid down in the rules. Kicking the ball is not allowed.
When a player is in possession of the ball, it must be bounced at least once every 10 seconds.
Wheelchair rugby is played in eight-minute quarters.
Basic Rules of Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Rugby is a fast-paced, full contact team sport for athletes with spinal cord injuries of the cervical spine, or those who have a condition affecting movement in the trunk, legs and at least one upper limb.
The game is played on a regulation 28 x 15m basketball court. The two key areas are located at the end lines. The goal lines are 8m apart and marked by cones. A team consists of up to 12 players. 4 players per team are allowed on court at any one time, with the maximum on classification points totalling 8.0.
A player from each team enters the centre circle. The referee tosses the ball into the air and the players try to tip it towards a team-mate. The game clock begins the moment the ball is touched by a player.
A goal is scored when two wheels of the player’s wheelchair cross the goal line. The player must have possession and be in control of the ball at the time. A team has 40 seconds to score once the ball goes into play. So watch the game clock and get ready for some action!
Each team has 4 x player time-outs and 2 x coach time-outs. Either team may call for a time-out when the ball is dead. When the ball is in play, only the team with possession can call it. If a time-out is called due to equipment malfunction, the affected team has one minute to correct the problem. Otherwise they must either substitute the player or waste another of their time-outs.
The game is supervised by 2 x referees, assisted by 4 x table officials - a scorekeeper, a timekeeper, a 40s operator and a penalty timekeeper. The Technical Commissioner supervises the table officials and assists in deciding the outcomes of any protests.
- Players with the ball are not permitted to touch the floor with any part of his body or wheelchair (except for wheels and anti-tip device).
- A player must dribble or pass the ball at least once every 10 seconds.
- If your team has the ball, you cannot remain in the opposition’s key area for more than 10 seconds.
- If you get control of the ball in your back court area, your team has 12 seconds to advance the ball to your front court. The ball cannot return to your back court (the exception being if the opposition touches the ball).
- The ball must stay in-bounds. A player is determined if he is in-bounds by his 4 wheels.
These are some of the fouls that a referee may call during a game: Charging Foul, Four-in-the-Key Foul, Leaving the Court, Holding Foul, Pushing Foul, Contact-Before-Whistle, Out-and-In Foul, Illegal-Use-of-Hands, Spinning Foul and other Technical Fouls. Offending players could lose possession of the ball, serve time in the penalty box or even be disqualified.
Click here to download the 2015 International Rules for the Sport of Wheelchair Rugby from International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) that is used at national/international events.
Who Can Play Wheelchair Rugby?
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 partial 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.
Every wheelchair rugby player is classified based on their disability and undergo a bench test and functional skills test. Each player is given a points value after these tests which will range from 0.5 (lowest) to 3.5 (highest). The four players on court for a wheelchair rugby team must not exceed a total of 8 points.
The following is a very basic description of the functionality of players in each class level and what the role would be in a wheelchair rugby team.
For more information about classification of Wheelchair Rugby please visit A Laypersons Guide to Wheelchair Rugby
The following is a very basic description of the functionality of players in each class level and what the role would be in a wheelchair rugby team. Credit: IWRF Website
|Typical role on court||Main role is as blocker, not a major ball handler|
|Typical role on court||Blocker, may in-bound ball, not a major ball handler|
|Typical role on court||Excellent blocker and also may be occasional ball handler|
|Chair skills/function||Increased shoulder strength and stability allows for more effective and efficient pushing ball handling skills|
|Typical role on court||Increasing role on court as ball handler|
|Chair skills/function||Typically has very strong and stable shoulder that allows for good pushing speed on court|
|Typical role on court||Ball handler and fairly fast playmaker|
|Typical role on court||Very good ball handler and fast playmaker|
|Typical role on court||Major ball handler and very fast playmaker. Often primary ball handler and playmaker on team|
|Chair skills/function||Has some trunk function, therefore very stable in wheelchair and able to use trunk for ball and chair skills|