How to Play Wheelchair Rugby

Last year, I started playing wheelchair rugby. I have to say it’s really cool and so much fun. I was a rookie last year, playing in a professional league against guys and girls who have played for years. Although I was wet behind the ears, I felt like I could hold my own, even as a rookie.

How to Play Wheelchair Rugby

Wheelchair rugby combines different elements of rugby, basketball and handball. The game is played with a volleyball on an indoor, basketball-sized court. Each team has an area referred to as the “key,” which is marked with cones and players must defend their goal line against the opposing team.

One game of wheelchair rugby consists of four quarters, eight minutes long each. Points are scored when a player carries the ball over the opposing team’s goal line. For a goal to count, two wheels of the player’s wheelchair must cross the goal line while maintaining firm possession of the ball. Players must dribble or pass the ball every 10 seconds. Otherwise, the opposing team takes possession of the ball.

Player Classifications

Wheelchair rugby is a mixed team sport, both male and female athletes who have some type of disability that causes limited arm and leg function, can participate. Some eligible disabilities include impaired muscles, athetosis, impaired passive range of movement, ataxia, hypertonia or limb deficiency. Classifications categorize players into different sport classes. There are seven sport classes: 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5. The 0.5 sport class means that a player has the most significant limitation in activity, while the 3.5 sport class indicates that a player has good arm and hand function, and some trunk function. Each team can have four players on the court at one time, however, their total classification points cannot exceed 8.

Special Wheelchair Rugby Chairs

Because wheelchair rugby is a full contact sport, I would never play with my Quantum Rehab Wheelchair. Instead, we compete in manual wheelchairs specifically designed for the game. There are two types of chairs: offensive and defensive. Offensive wheelchair rugby chairs are designed for speed and mobility and are equipped with a front bumper and wings to prevent other wheelchairs from hooking them. I just ordered my very own rugby chair. It was delivered to me yesterday and I’m beyond excited.

Left: Bryan's Quantum Rehab Wheelchair. Right: Bryan's new wheelchair rugby chair.

Getting Ready to Play

This year will be my second year playing and I’m so stoked to get better and better. I have huge potential to be a force in this league. I have every intention of doing just that. Now, I need get in shape, build up my endurance and stamina and put time in the new chair. These guys are going to need to watch out for me. After last year, I’m coming for them. Wish me luck!

About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He uses a Quantum Rehab Wheelchair for mobility and is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.

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