With just 96 days to go until the London 2012 Paralympics, it’s time to start taking a look at how some of the sports that are unique to a Paralympic Games are played. The first in this series is Wheelchair Rugby (Quad Rugby in the USA) also colloquially referred to in the biz as ‘Murderball’ because of the rough and vigorous nature of the game where injuries like broken digits are not uncommon.
The sport was also made famous with a documentary named Murderball made about the sport.
The current world number one team (as at 11 November, 2011) in the sport of Wheelchair Rugby is the United States of America, who are also the reigning Paralympic and world champions looking to defend their title and ranking in just a matter of months in London. They are closely followed by Australia in second place on the list and Japan in third, with Sweden and Canada rounding out the top 5 sides in the world.
Players must have a functional impairment of both the arms and legs to form a part of a team in the sport. The most common cohort in the game are those with spinal cord injuries, but people with multiple amputations and neurological disabilities like Cerebral Palsy also qualify to play.
Players are given a classification based on functional ability between 0.5 and 3.5 with the former being the higher end of physical impairment and 3.5 being the highest level of physical ability.
There can be up to 12 players in a team with 4 players on the court at any one time. These 4 players must have a combined classification total of no more than 8 points at any time.
THE PLAYING FIELD:
Murderball is played indoors on a basketball court. Instead of the basketball key area an 8 metre wide and 1.75 metre deep forms a goal area with cones marking the dimensions. The end line is the goal line.
The sport is played with a regulation size volleyball that must be 280 grams and white in colour.
THE RULES OF THE GAME:
Play starts in the back court of the player whose team is in possession of the ball. The player in possession of the ball must advance the ball into their opposition’s half within 12 seconds.
Players must pass or bounce the ball every 10 seconds in any manner necessary.
A team has a total of 40 seconds to score a point or must give up possession of the ball and the attacking team cannot be in the key area with the ball for more than 10 seconds without scoring.
The defensive team is not permitted to have any more than 3 players in the key defending their line at any one time.
In defending their line, the team can attack the player in any manner aside from attacking a player from behind or physically interfering with another person.
Defensive fouls are remedied with a 1 minute penalty and offensive fouls lead to a loss of possession.
The clock is stopped and possession reversed if the ball goes out of bounds.
When the player in possession of the ball has two wheels over the end line a goal has been scored.