The Rules of Rugby
You love quad rugby but do you know the rules?
Quad rugby is a simple game with complex strategies for playing offense and defense. It takes place with a volleyball-like ball on a basketball-size court with goal lines marked by cones and a lined-off “key” area.
The object of the game is to score a goal (one point) by crossing the goal line with possession of the ball while the opposing team is defending that goal. The team with the most points when time runs out wins.
Players must have some dysfunction in all four limbs, so amputees and people with post-polio might be eligible to play but generally most participants have sustained cervical spinal-cord injury. A classification system identifies levels of function, giving a broad range of individuals an opportunity to play. It is based on function, not ability. The classes range from 0.5 (those who have the least function) to 3.5 (those with the greatest function). The maximum point value allowed on the court per team is 8.0, but less is acceptable.
Athletes compete in manual chairs that are built specifically for the sport. The rules include detailed specifications for chairs to ensure safety and fairness. In international competition, all wheelchairs must meet these requirements.
All female rugby players are reduced an additional 0.5. Maximum points allowed is still 8.0. An athlete over age 45 is allowed to be on an 8.5 lineup; if the individual is not playing, the points revert to 8.0.
Although quad rugby is a full contact sport, no personal contact is allowed: slapping, hitting, punching, gouging out eyes, biting off ears, etc. Penalties are enforced, usually requiring time in the penalty box.
The ten basic rules of the sport are:
• Games are four eight-minute quarters.
• Each team gets four timeouts, plus one for each overtime played.
• One point is scored when the goal line is crossed with any two wheels of the ball carrier’s wheelchair.
• Ten seconds: Players must dribble or pass or it’s a turnover.
• Twelve seconds: The ball must be advanced over half-court or it’s a turnover
• Ten seconds: The ball must be inbounded or it’s a turnover.
• Forty seconds: Teams must score after the ball is inbounded or it’s a turnover.
• Ten seconds: Offensive players cannot be in the key any longer or it’s a turnover.
• Only three defenders are allowed in the key at one time or it’s a penalty. (Players are released from the penalty box generally when the opposition scores a goal or when one minute is served.)
• Hitting an opposing player’s chair behind the axles is a turnover or penalty.
Wheelchair rugby began in 1977 in Winnipeg, Canada, by a group of quad athletes who were looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball. It first appeared outside Canada in 1979 at a demonstration at Southwest State University in Minnesota. The first Canadian national championship took place that same year. The first team in the U.S. was formed in 1981, and the first international tournament, bringing together squads from the U.S. and Canada, was in 1982. The sport was recognized as a full medal sport for the first time at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Currently, more than 40 countries actively participate in or are developing programs in wheelchair rugby.