HOW IT ALL BEGAN
First introduced in 1977, in Winnipeg, Canada, wheelchair rugby was the initiative of a group of quadriplegic athletes seeking alternatives to wheelchair basketball. It was initially named murderball because of the sudden impact between players. The first international championship was held in 1982, with teams from Canada and the United States. Four years later, wheelchair rugby debuted at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games as a demonstration sport. At Sydney 2000, it became part of the official programme. Since then, it has featured at all editions of the Paralympic Games and is already guaranteed at Tokyo 2020.
ABOUT THE COMPETITION
Wheelchair rugby is a dynamic, heavycontact sport. Crashing is allowed and even encouraged. The game combines elements of rugby, basketball and volleyball, and is played by mixed teams. The teams are formed by four players and there are eight players on the bench, all quadriplegic or with impairments in all four limbs. The objective is to accumulate as many goals as possible. Points are scored when a player carries the ball across the goal line. There are no ties. Where necessary, there is a three-minute period of extra time. The team has 40 seconds to score a goal, with only 12 seconds to get to the offensive half of the pitch. The game is played in four eight-minute quarters with five-minute intervals between the second and third halves, and two-minute intervals between the other two
DID YOU KNOW?
For safety, there are offensive and defensive wheelchairs. The former, commonly used by athletes with lesser degrees of impairment, allow for more movements and are rounded at the front. Defensive chairs, in turn, are used by players with lower functional classifications, i.e. more limited, and are fitted with grids on the front to block opponents.