Wheelchair Rugby



Fig. 13.1
Wheelchair Rugby Team. Photo Courtesy of Tiffanie Miner; Permission of use granted by Tiffanie Miner





History


Originally called murderball, wheelchair rugby was invented in 1977 in Winnipeg, Canada. It was developed by Ben Harnish, a professor of architecture at Manitoba University, and two wheelchair athletes, Duncan Campbell and Gerry Terwin. Their goal was to create a sport based off of ice hockey and wheelchair basketball that allowed quadriplegic athletes, of varying disability, to participate equally in the game [1].

The game was first demonstrated in 1979 at Southwest State University in Minnesota, USA. That same year, Canada held their first National Championship. The first US quad rugby team, North Dakota Wallbangers, was formed in 1981 by Brad Mikkelsen with the aid of the University of North Dakota’s Disabled Student Services. The first US wheelchair rugby match was held in Marshall, ND, in 1982 between the North Dakota Wallbangers and the Minnesota Rolling Gophers. That same year, the University of North Dakota hosted the first International Quad Rugby Tournament [1].

The first US National Championship tournament was held in 1988 at the University on North Dakota. It was composed of six teams: Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and North Dakota. During this tournament, the US Quad Rugby Association was formed to regulate and advertise the sport within the USA [1].

In 1993, the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) was formed during the World Wheelchair Games in England. The IWRF mission was (1) to create an international infrastructure for the sport, (2) to establish recognition from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and (3) to provide world-class competition [1].

After lengthy negotiations, wheelchair rugby was added as an exhibition sport in the 1996 Summer Paralympics. The USA won the gold medal, Canada won the silver medal, and New Zealand won the bronze medal [1].

During the summer of 2000, The Paralympic Games were held in Sydney, Australia. Wheelchair rugby was one of the most watched Paralympic events with over 10,000 viewers watching the championship game between the USA and Australia. The US team beat Australia by just one point making it one of the closest international finishes to date. New Zealand finished third and received the bronze medal over Canada [1].

In 2002, the world championship was held in Sweden. Canada beat the US team in the final game. In 2004, the Paralympics took place in Athens, Greece. New Zealand took the gold, Canada the silver, and the USA took the bronze [1].

The movie, Murderball, was released in 2004. This movie increased the sport’s recognition and popularity. To this day, it has continued to assist in the recruitment of athletes to the sport [1].

The 2008 Paralympics were held in Beijing, China. The USA won the gold medal. Australia took the silver and Canada finished with the bronze medal.

The 2012 Paralympics were held in Great Britain. There was one event and eight teams competed. Although wheelchair rugby is considered a mix gender sport, the vast majority of competitors were male. Australia won the gold, Canada won the silver, and the USA took the bronze [1].







































Year

Gold

Silver

Bronze

1996—Atlanta demonstration

United States (USA)

Canada (CAN)

New Zealand (NZL)

2000—Sydney

United States (USA)

Australia (AUS)

New Zealand (NZL)

2004—Athens

New Zealand (NZL)

Canada (CAN)

United States (USA)

2008—Beijing

United States (USA)

Australia (AUS)

Canada (CAN)

2012—London

Australia (AUS)

Canada (CAN)

United States (USA)


Adapted from the 2007 USQRA Coaches Manual, ©2004 by the US Disabled Athletes Fund, Inc.

The 2016 Summer Paralympics was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from September 7 to September 18.

Today, the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation boasts that wheelchair rugby is the only full-contact wheelchair sport in the world [1].


Who Plays It (Spinal Cord Injury)


Eligible participants who play wheelchair rugby must have a disability that affects both their arms and legs [1]. Many participants have spinal cord injuries, resulting in full or partial paralysis of their lower extremities and partial paralysis of their upper extremities. Despite the majority of players having spinal cord injuries, wheelchair rugby is also enjoyed by disabled persons with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, amputees, polio, and other neurologic conditions that render them eligible to participate [1]. The majority of teams comprise both men and women. These co-ed’s compete at the same level and in the same competitions. Each player is assessed by a medical professional, who is trained as a classifier, and given a classification based on their level of disability. Teams must comprise their four court players based on the classification given, to not equal a classification value greater than eight. Each team may exceed a classification value of 8 by 0.5 for every female on the court. This helps teams to field players with different functional abilities and level the playing field (Figs. 13.2 and 13.3) [1].

A330551_1_En_13_Fig2_HTML.jpg


Fig. 13.2
Fallen Athlete. Photo Courtesy of Tiffanie Miner; Permission of use granted by Tiffanie Miner


A330551_1_En_13_Fig3_HTML.jpg


Fig. 13.3
Match in Action. Photo Courtesy of Tiffanie Miner; Permission of use granted by Tiffanie Miner

A generalized classification table:


















 
Class 0.5

Typical role on court

Main role is as blocker, not a major ball handler

Chair skills/function

 • Due to extensive proximal shoulder weakness and lack of triceps function, forward head bob presents when pushing

 • Due to the lack of triceps, player pulls on the back part of the wheel for push stroke using the biceps by bending the elbows; elbows are also out to the side when pushing (aka “unopposed biceps push”)

Ball skills/function

 • Due to proximal shoulder weakness and arm and wrist weakness, player traps direct passes on the lap or bats it in from a limited range


















 
Class 1.0

Typical role on court

Blocker, may handle in-bound ball, not a major ball handler

Chair skills/function

 • Due to proximal shoulder weakness and triceps weakness, player may have slight head bob when pushing but has a longer push on the wheel (combination of push and pull on the back of wheel)

 • Due to increased strength in upper chest and shoulders, multidirectional start, stop, and turn (can turn in all directions without stopping; easier and faster turning than 0.5 athlete; but because of triceps and wrist weakness, 1.0 athlete may still use forearm)

Ball skills/function

 • Forearm or wrist catch

 • Weak chest pass or forearm pass


















 
Class 1.5

Typical role on court

Excellent blocker and also may be occasional ball handler

Chair skills/function

 • Increased shoulder strength and stability allows for more efficient pushing ball handling skills

Ball skills/function

 • Increased shoulder strength and stability allows for some distance and consistency to chest pass

 • Typically has wrist imbalance that causes limited ball security when passing

 • May have asymmetry present in arms. If so, predominantly uses the stronger arm for chair and ball skills


















 
Class 2.0

Typical role on court

Increasing role on court as ball handler

Chair skills/function

 • Typically has very strong and stable shoulders that allow for good pushing speed on court

Ball skills/function

 • Effective chest pass with control over moderate distance

 • Due to lack of finger flexion, there is limited ball security against defense during passing

 • Can hold the ball with wrists firmly but does not have hand function


















 
Class 2.5

Typical role on court

Ball handler and fairly fast playmaker

Chair skills/function

 • Due to excellent shoulder strength and stability, player has good pushing speed

 • Functional grip is used to advantage on the push rim when challenged

 • May have some trunk control giving better stability

Ball skills/function

 • Reasonably balanced finger flexion and extension without true grasp and release

 • Dribbles the ball safely but supinates forearm to scoop the ball onto the lap

 • Due to finger flexion strength, player is capable of performing one-handed overhead pass, but with limited accuracy and distance because of imbalance in finger strength

 • Safe two-handed catching of passes, usually scooping ball to the lap. May catch passes single handed and scoop to the lap or chest

 • Improved ball security compared to 2.0 due to improved ability to isolate wrist/finger function

 • May have asymmetrical arm or hand function


















 
Class 3.0

Typical role on court

Very good ball handler and playmaker

Chair skills/function

 • Due to balanced finger function, athlete can grip wheelchair rim increasing wheelchair speed

 • May have some trunk control giving better stability

Ball skills/function

 • Due to function of fingers, can control the ball in varying planes of movement for passing, dribbling, catching, and protecting the ball

 • Can dribble and pass ball well with one hand

 • Multiple dribble one handed with control

 • Stabilizes with the opposite arm to allow greater reach


















 
Class 3

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

Ball skills/function

 • Due to a combination of hand and trunk function, usually has excellent ball control with controlled one-handed passing for distance and excellent ball security during passing and receiving

 • May have asymmetrical arm or hand function, noticeable with chair and ball handling skills


Rules of the Sport





  1. 1.


    Equipment and field of play

    Wheelchair rugby is played with a regulation volleyball. The use of manual wheelchairs is required for all athletes. These wheelchairs must meet specific guidelines set forth by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation.

    The game is played on a hardwood basketball court measuring 28 m × 15 m, with marked boundary lines, a center line, a center circle, and two key areas. The two key areas, measuring 8 m wide and 1.75 m deep, are located on the two end lines and centered. The part of the end line that is in the key area is called the goal line. The ends of this line are marked with two cones (Fig. 13.4) [1].

     

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Feb 25, 2018 | Posted by in SPORT MEDICINE | Comments Off on Wheelchair Rugby
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