Wheelchair Rugby was invented in Winnipeg in 1976. It was developed by Canadian athletes who are quadriplegics but who wanted to actively continue playing team sports.
It is a sport like no other and has elements from a number of different sports including Rugby, Basketball, Handball and Ice Hockey. It is a contact sport and physical contact between rugby chairs is an integral part of the game. It is played by two teams of up to 12 players but only four players from each team may be on court at any time. It is a mixed gender sport and both male and female athletes play on the same teams.
To be eligible to play athletes must have some form of disability with a loss of function in both upper and lower limbs. Most athletes have a spinal cord injury but there are many others with a wide variety of medical conditions.
Players are classified according to their functional level and assigned a point value ranging from 0.5 (the lowest functional level) to 3.5 (the highest). In general there are two types of players, defensive and offensive. Defensive players range from 0.5 to 1.5 and offensive players range from 2.0 to 3.5 There are also two types of chairs, the offensive being rounder in shape and defensive longer in depth. The total classification value of all players on the court for a team at one time cannot exceed eight points.
A team is not allowed to have more than three players in their own goal area while they are defending their goal line. Offensive players are not permitted to remain in the opposing team's goal area for more than ten seconds.
Physical contact between wheelchairs is permitted, and forms a major part of the game. However, physical contact between wheelchairs that is deemed dangerous — such as striking another player from behind with excessive force is not allowed. Direct physical contact between players is not permitted.