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Wheelchair rugby is a dynamic and inclusive sport designed for athletes with disabilities that affect their ability to move. As a result, the rules of wheelchair rugby are adapted to ensure that all participants can compete on equal terms. To answer all your questions on the subject, we’ve created this guide, with all the main rules of wheelchair rugby, in an uncomplicated way. So read on!

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Wheelchair Rugby Rules

Curious to understand how wheelchair rugby is played? Then keep an eye on these rules and don’t miss a beat!

Wheelchair rules

The wheelchairs are  specially designed for rugby, with protections and adaptations to withstand physical contact.

In general, there are two types of chairs: 

  • offensive (for quick maneuvers and scoring), generally used by players in attacking positions, where the aim is to score points;
  • defensive (more robust for blocking), used by athletes in the defense position, whose mission is to prevent opponents from scoring points.

These chairs must follow the rules of the competition and of the federations and confederations, such as the Brazilian Wheelchair Rugby Confederation (ABRC).

Also read: Rugby positions: pillar, second row, wing and more

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Ball and court rules

The ball in wheelchair rugbyis similar to a volleyball ball. It must be passed, thrown, dribbled or carried by the players.

The games take place on courts 15 meters wide by 28 meters long, the same size as a basketball court;

Players and teams

Each rugby team is made up of four players on the court, plus up to 8 substitutes on the bench.

The competitions take place with  men and women on the same team and there is a score limit that a team can have. Calm down! I’ll explain what this limit is.

To do this, however, you need to understand that players are classified according to their degree of disability, with scores ranging from 0.5 to 3.5 (the lower the score, the greater the disability).

There are seven classes in total:

  • 0.5
  • 1.0
  • 1.5
  • 2.0
  • 2.5
  • 3.0
  • 3.5

In other words, a player with a score of 3 has a lower degree of deficiency than a player with a score of 2.5.

With this in mind, the sum of the scores of the four players on the court cannot exceed 8 points.

In other words, a team can have one athlete with a 3.0, one with a 2.5, one with a 2 and one with a 0.5 (totaling 8). Other combinations can also be made, as long as the total score doesn’t exceed 8.

However, according to the rules of wheelchair rugby, it is not possible, for example, for a team to have three players with a score of 3 or more;

But, after all, how are athletes classified? This is a very common question and the answer is quite simple: before competing, players are classified by a team of professionals who assess the degree of disability of each athlete.

Over time, athletes and their coaches know their scores, making it easier to plan and strategize for each match;

Wheelchair rugby rules: how to play? 

Having understood the rules of wheelchair rugby and the organization of the match, it’s time to understand how the game is played, its objectives and rules;

  1. The aim is to score points by crossing the opponent’s goal line.
  2. The point is only valid if the athlete crosses the goal line with at least two wheels of the chair and is controlling the ball.
  3. The game is divided into four periods of eight minutes each, with breaks between periods and a longer break in the middle of the game.
  4. The team in possession of the ball must cross the opponent’s goal line in no more than 40 seconds.
  5. Players must pass or dribble the ball at least once every 10 seconds.
  6. Each goal is worth one point.
  7. The team with the most points when the referee blows the whistle at the end of the match wins.

The goal area is delimited and only two defenders can be in it at the same time, to avoid excessive obstruction.

Now, how about getting to know in practice how wheelchair rugby is played and the level of competitiveness that the athletes apply in their matches? All you have to do is play the video below. Believe me, you’ll be surprised;

Infringements and penalties

Some fouls can lead to penalties, such as loss of possession, free kicks for the opponent or even temporary exclusion (sin-bin) of one or two minutes.

Among the infractions provided for in the rules of wheelchair rugby are:

  • illegal contact with the body or chair of another player;
  • grabbing or holding an opponent’s chair;
  • play the ball dangerously;
  • violating the possession rules (e.g. not passing or dribbling the ball within 10 seconds);
  • Exceeding 40 seconds to score a goal.

As in all sports, wheelchair rugby values sportsmanship and fair play. Unsportsmanlike behavior may result in additional penalties.

Also read: All about the Paralympics: history, disciplines, categories and more


Substitutions can be made at any break in play, as long as they do not violate the rules on total points on the court. Remember that the maximum number of points on the court must be 8;

These wheelchair rugby rules ensure that the sport is safe, fair, inclusive and competitive, allowing athletes with different degrees of disability to compete together in an exciting way.

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