Wheelchair rugby is a full-blooded, contact sport developed initially for tetraplegics (those whose disabilities affect both their lower and upper limbs) that offers male and female players significant health, social and rehabilitative benefits.
A mixed team sport for male and female quadriplegic athletes, wheelchair rugby was invented in 1977 in Winnipeg, Canada by a group of disabled athletes that initially called it Murderball. The sport combines elements of rugby, basketball and handball and players compete in teams of four to carry the ball across the opposing team's goal line. Similar to its non-disabled counterpart, contact between wheelchairs is permitted and is in fact an integral part of the sport, as players use their chairs to block and hold opponents. A volleyball is used and it can be carried, dribbled, or passed in any way except by kicking. The ball must be bounced at least once every 10 seconds and the game is played in eight-minute quarters.
For the more competitive and dedicated athletes, there is the opportunity to enter the world stage with the national team known as the 'Wheel Blacks'. These elite sportspeople compete at the top level in both the Wheelchair Rugby World Championships and the Paralympic Games, both of which are held every four years.
Part of an international family, competition on the court is matched by solid comradeship off the court for more casual participants. The sport promotes teamwork, personal independence and the ability to succeed no matter what the odds.
New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby (NZWR) represents the sport nationally, with six regions established throughout the country, and continues to develop a fully inclusive sport that enables players to achieve and reach their full potential regardless of their financial status or disability.