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Wheelchair rugby, also known as paralympic rugby, is a dynamic and exciting sport in which athletes with physical disabilities can compete in a highly competitive environment. If you’re just getting to know the sport, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ve put together an uncomplicated everything about wheelchair rugby, from how it works and its history to its rules and characteristics. Do you like it? Then read on and ask us any questions you may have!

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All about wheelchair rugby: what is it?

Paralympic rugby is the version of wheelchair rugby played at the Paralympic Games. It debuted as an exhibition sport at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta and was officially included at the 2000 Games in Sydney;

Since then, paralympic rugby has become one of the most eagerly awaited events, known for its intense action and the display of exceptional skills by the athletes.

And since a picture speaks a thousand words, there’s nothing like a compilation of good moments from the sport to help you understand everything about wheelchair rugby. Just play the video below;

How does wheelchair rugby work?

To start this guide to all things wheelchair rugby, let’s understand how the sport works!

Wheelchair rugby is played on a basketball court with a volleyball.Yes, that mixture!

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The athletes are quadriplegic or have equivalent disabilities. In addition, the teams are made up of four players each, and the aim is to score points by crossing the opponent’s goal line while in possession of the ball;

For this to happen successfully, athletes need to develop their physical intensity, tactical strategy and high speed.

Main aspects of the game

Want to understand everything about wheelchair rugby? Then take a look at some of the fundamental aspects of the game:

  • Teams: Each team has  four players on court and up to eight players in total.
  • Positioning: Players are ranked according to their level of functionality, with a score ranging from  0.5 to 3.5 points.
  • Objective: Score goals by crossing the opponent’s goal line with both wheels of the chair in contact with the ground.
  • Duration: The game is divided into four periods of eight minutes each.

Also read: How to bet on Rugby at Betano: manual and FAQ!

What are the rules of wheelchair rugby?

The games take place on courts 15 meters wide by 28 meters long and have four eight-minute periods. The aim is to cross the goal line with both wheels of the chair and the ball in your hands. There are four players on each team, with eight reserves each.

An important feature you should know when learning all about wheelchair rugby is that the competitions take place with men and women on the same team, in other words, there is no gender division.

Player rankings

Players are graded with a score from 0.5 to 3.5, depending on their level of physical ability. There are seven classes in total and the higher the motor skills, the higher the score:

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

The sum of the scores of the four players on the court may not exceed 8 points.

In other words, a team can have one athlete with a 3.5, two athletes with a 2 and one with a 0.5 (totaling 8) or any other combination where the total is a maximum of 8;

It’s also worth noting that players with lower ratings play in defense, and those with higher ratings form the attack.


The wheelchairs are specially designed for sport, with shock protection and high maneuverability.

In addition, contact between wheelchairs is allowed and is part of the game, but there are rules to avoid dangerous moves, such as illegally holding, blocking or pushing an opponent, which result in time on the penalty bench.

Also read: Rugby glossary: line-out, maul, scrum and more

How was wheelchair rugby created?

Wheelchair rugby was created in 1977 in Winnipeg, Canada, by a group of quadriplegic athletes who were looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball;

They wanted a sport that was equally intense and competitive, but that offered opportunities for people with greater physical impairment.

Initially called “murderball” due to its physical nature, the name was later changed to wheelchair rugby and quickly gained popularity, becoming one of the most exciting and respected sports on the paralympic scene;

Its rules and structure promote an environment of fair and intense competition, providing a unique experience for athletes and spectators alike;

This sport not only challenges athletes physically, but also celebrates diversity and inclusion in the world of sports.

All about ruby in wheelchairs in Brazil

Still with little tradition in the sport, in 2023 Brazil won the South American Wheelchair Rugby Championship, beating Colombia 50-33 in the final.

Unfortunately, Brazil will not be at the 2024 Olympics, but preparations are still going strong for 2028! So, let’s keep following and cheering for paralympic sport in the country;

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