Wheelchair rugby is a fast-paced, competitive game specifically created for quadriplegics here in Canada. Wheelchair Rugby (originally called “Murderball”) is a team sport played by both male and female quadriplegics. The sport of Wheelchair Rugby combines elements of Basketball, Rugby and Ice Hockey.

The object of the game is to carry the ball across the opposition’s goal line. Two wheels must have crossed the goal line and the player must have firm control of the ball when he/she crosses the line. Players carry, dribble, or pass the ball while moving toward the opponents’ goal area. The ball must be dribbled or passed at least once every ten seconds. Two teams of four players compete for four eight-minute quarters.

Contact between wheelchairs is permitted and can be integral to the game. Players frequently collide as they try to stop opponents and take control of the ball. Some forms of more dangerous contact are not permitted and can result in penalties.

To be eligible to play, individuals must have a disability that affects both the legs and the arms. The individuals must also be physically capable of propelling a manual wheelchair with their arms. Individuals with neurological disabilities must have at least three limbs with limited function.

Majority of Wheelchair rugby participants have spinal cord injuries, which resulted in partial or full paralysis of the legs and partial paralysis of the arms. Other disability groups who participate include: polio, cerebral palsy, some forms of muscular dystrophy, dysmelia, amputations, and other neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

A specific rugby wheelchair is required for this bash and crash sport. The wheelchair should be manual, lightweight and be of some type of sport chair. A ball is used that is similar in size and weight to a volleyball and can bounce.

Wheelchair Rugby courts have the same dimensions as a regulation basketball court; however, only the side, end, and centre lines are required to play, along with four cones or pylons to mark the ends of the goal lines.

See the International Wheelchair rugby Federation for rules and regulations.


Wheelchair rugby athletes, because of the unique and varied nature of their muscle function, demonstrate combinations of varying stomach, back, chest, arm and leg movement in performing the wheelchair rugby skills of ball handling, such as passing, catching, carrying, and dribbling; and wheelchair skills that include pushing, starting, stopping, directional changes, tackling and blocking.

To determine an athlete’s class, classifiers observe athletes as they perform a variety of these movements. Firstly, classifiers test athletes’ limbs for strength, flexibility, sensation, and muscle tone; and athletes’ trunks (abdominal and back muscles) for balance, ability to bend over and rise up and the ability to rotate to both sides (in combination with leg function, if present). The athlete is then observed performing both ball handling and wheelchair skills prior to game play and during game play, if necessary. In addition, the athlete’s execution of ball and wheelchair handling skills are observed on court during actual game play.

Typically, an athlete is assigned a class following the completion of the bench test and the functional skills test prior to game play (observation of ball handling and wheelchair skills). The athlete’s execution of ball and wheelchair handling skills are observed on court during actual play to make a final determination of the athlete’s class.

See the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation for more information on Classification

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