Credit: Martin Saych

About Wheelchair Rugby

As one of the only full-contact disability sports, it is little wonder wheelchair rugby, aka ‘murderball’ was one of the biggest hits of the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The sport is open to both men an women, and is one of the only games which allows them to compete on the same team.

But it’s not only players who are welcome; there are loads of opportunities to play your part on the sidelines too. We’re constantly on the look out for referees, coaches, officials and support staff to help at training sessions and tournaments. Get in touch if you’re interested in finding out more.

History

The game was invented in 1977 in Canada by a group of tetraplegic wheelchair basketball players who were tired of losing out on court time to their more functional team mates. Clearly many others felt the same as the sport quickly grew in popularity and spread to the USA.

The sport landed on these shores in the early 1980s, when the States team flew over to give an exhibition at Stoke Mandeville. Soon after our first three clubs were established and there are now more than 20 teams up and down the UK.

Globally, the sport was debuted at the World Wheelchair Games in 1990 and  it became a full Paralympic sport at Sydney 2000, following a demonstration at games in Atlanta 1996.

Great Britain have constantly competed with the world’s best teams, qualifying for every Paralympic Games and winning five gold medals at the Wheelchair Rugby European Championships.

For more information on the game and current world rankings, visit the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation’s website, iwrf.com.

Development

GBWR has worked to develop a Junior Programme which provides an opportunity for younger players to experience wheelchair rugby in a junior-only environment, and this programme now has over 90 regular players.

We have also developed a new discipline of the game, Wheelchair Rugby 5s, which allows us to deliver wheelchair rugby opportunities to those with greater functionality than the Paralympic discipline permits. This new discipline has been well-received, with new teams developing across the country.