Wheelchair rugby was originally called Murderball when it was invented in Winnipeg in 1976. Today, this home-grown Canadian sport is one of the most famous wheelchair sports around, thanks to the 2005 Academy Award-nominated documentary, “Murderball,” which followed the rivalry between the Canadian and American teams at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. Wheelchair rugby is only for athletes whose physical disability affects at least 3 limbs (if they have a spinal cord injury) or 4 limbs (if they have a non-SCI disability like cerebral palsy or amputation).
Wheelchair rugby is:
• Played by athletes between the ages of 16 and 50+. Because of the full-contact nature of the sport, there is no junior league for this sport.
• Played by both men and women. Wheelchair rugby is a co-ed sport, meaning that men and women play on the same team. Women receive a reduced classification of 0.5, to even the playing field.
• Played by spinal cord injury quadriplegics and people with cerebral palsy and amputations. Unfortunately, paraplegics are currently not eligible to play wheelchair rugby.
• A full-contact sport. There is a lot of physical contact between wheelchairs. Despite this, however, wheelchair rugby is considered to be a very safe sport.
• Played in specialized tank-like wheelchairs. There are two types of wheelchair rugby chairs: offensive chairs for people with more physical function, and defensive chairs for people with less physical function.
• Played on a basketball court with 4 players on the court at one time.
• Has a classification system so that people with different levels of quadriplegia can play together fairly. Every athlete is assigned a point value from 0.5 (for the most disabled) to 3.5 (for the least disabled). There can only be 8 points on the floor at one time.