IWRF Media Guide
This page provides you with useful information to assist with reporting on the exciting sport of Wheelchair Rugby. A brief overview of our unique sport is below allowing you to get right to work. If you need additional information, please download the full version of the IWRF Media Kit from this page or contact us.
What is Wheelchair Rugby?
Wheelchair Rugby is a fast paced full-contact team sport for male and female athletes with functional impairments in at least three of their four limbs. Being a mixed sport, both male and female athletes compete together on the same teams.
Wheelchair Rugby is a unique sport that was created by athletes with a disability, and combines elements of basketball, rugby and ice hockey. The game is played indoors on a slightly modified hardwood basketball court between two teams of four players each. The object of the game is to carry a ball across the opposing team's goal line in order to score points.
Contact between wheelchairs is permitted, and in fact is an integral part of the sport. Players use specialty built rugby chairs to block and hold their opponents during play.
Over 3,000 people participate in wheelchair rugby around the world, and it is actively played in more than 28 countries today.
Like every Paralympic sport, Wheelchair Rugby uses a sport specific classification system to assign a class to all athletes, based on impairments that cause activity limitations in the sport.
The goal of classification is to minimize the impact of these impairments on the outcome of the competition.
With classification, the achievement of the athlete and the team will be based on talent, training, equipment and team tactics, just like in sports for able bodied athletes.
All athletes in wheelchair rugby are assigned one of seven point values from 0.5 to 3.5 that corresponds to his or her level of function.
Only 8 points per team are allowed on the court at any time, however, 8.5 points are permitted when one or more of the athletes are female. This ensures that athletes with varying levels of impairment can compete fairly together.
Brief Overview of the Rules
Wheelchair Rugby is played indoors on regulation size basketball court. The court is marked with boundary lines, a centerline, a center circle, and two key (goal) areas.
All athletes compete in manual wheelchairs which are manufactured specifically for the sport.
Competition is between two teams of four players each. Teams are allowed to have a maximum of 12 players on their roster.
The game consists of four eight-minute quarters, and begins with a tip-off at center court.
The player with possession of the ball must bounce or pass the ball within ten seconds while in control of the ball.
The team on offense has 12 seconds to advance the ball into their front court, and a total of 40 seconds to score a point.
The object of the game is to score goals by crossing over the opposing team’s goal line. One point is awarded for each goal scored.
Contact between wheelchairs is permitted, and in fact is an integral part of the sport. However, physical contact between wheelchairs that is deemed dangerous such as striking another player from behind is not allowed. Direct physical contact between players is not permitted.
Fouls are penalized by either a one-minute penalty for defensive and technical fouls, or a loss of possession for offensive fouls. A penalty goal may be awarded instead of a penalty in some cases.
Common fouls include spinning (striking an opponent's wheelchair behind the main axle), illegal use of hands (striking an opponent with the arms or hands), and holding (holding or obstructing an opponent by grasping with the hands or arms, or falling onto them).
History of Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Rugby was invented in 1977 in Winnipeg, Canada by a group of quadriplegic athletes who were looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball. They wanted a sport which would allow players with reduced arm and hand function to participate equally. The sport they created and called Murderball is known today as Wheelchair Rugby.
The first Wheelchair Rugby World Championship was held in Nottwil, Switzerland, in 1995. In 1996, Wheelchair Rugby was a demonstration sport at the Atlanta Paralympics, and became a full medal sport at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. World Championships and the Paralympics are held every four years. The most recent IWRF World Championship was held in Odense, Denmark in 2014.
Wheelchair Rugby Today
Today there are 28 countries in international competition, and more than ten others developing national Wheelchair Rugby programs. The IWRF includes three zones: The Americas, Europe, and Asia-Oceania.
The IWRF welcomes members of the media to use any photograph found on our website as a part of your story at no cost. In return we request that you credit all photos used with “Photo courtesy of www.iwrf.com”. If a photographer is named in a photograph you select, we ask that this person be credited accordingly and that “www.iwrf.com” be added to that credit. To request high resolution photographs, please contact the IWRF.
As the governing body for the sport of Wheelchair Rugby, the IWRF does not have direct access to athletes or coaches for interviews. However, the IWRF will be happy to assist members of the media in making contact with people in your area who can assist you. If you would like to conduct an interview with the IWRF or a member of its Board of Directors, please contact the IWRF.
Media credentials are typically arranged by contacting the local organizing committee hosting an event. If you are interested in covering an IWRF tournament and need assistance locating the proper contact, please let us know.
For more detailed information about Wheelchair Rugby, please download the IWRF Media Kit below.
|Download the IWRF Media Kit as a Adobe PDF file|
Guidelines - Reporting on Persons with a Disability*
When speaking, interviewing or socializing with a person or an athlete with a disability, here are a few general rules to remember:
- Always identify the person first and then the disability. Sometimes it may not be necessary or relevant to the article to mention the disability, so don’t feel obliged to do so. When it is relevant, just mention what the disability is and then move on.
- Act naturally and don’t monitor every word and action. Don’t be embarrassed if you use common expressions like “see you later” (to a person with a visual impairment) or “I’d better run along” (to someone who uses a wheelchair).
- Avoid using emotional wording like “tragic”, “afflicted”, “victim”, or “confined to a wheelchair”. Emphasize the ability and not the limitation, ie, by saying that someone “uses a wheelchair” rather than “is confined” or “is wheelchair‐bound”.
- Avoid portraying people with a disability who succeed as “extraordinary” or “superhuman”. For example, overstating the achievements of athletes with a disability inadvertently suggests the original expectations were not high.
- Portray the person as he/she is in real life. For example, a person with a disability might be an athlete but he/she may also be a parent, a civil engineer, a doctor, a business manager or a journalist.
- People do not want to be recipients of charity or pity. Remember that a person with a disability isn’t necessarily chronically sick or unhealthy.
- Always ask a person with a disability if he/she would like assistance before rushing in. Your help may not be needed. However, it is quite all right to offer help. If your assistance is needed then listen or ask for instructions.
- When talking with a person who has a disability, speak directly to that person rather than a companion or interpreter.
- Don’t forget that people with a disability may need your patience and sufficient time to act independently. Give the person extra time to speak if they are using a communication aid or have a learning disability.
- Ask persons with a disability to repeat themselves if you do not understand them.
- Respect the person’s personal space and remember that a wheelchair is part of a person’s personal space.
Appropriate words and phrases
Words can project images that are inaccurate and may hurt a person. In the following you can find a list of preferred terminology and appropriate wording to use when referring to athletes or people with a disability in general.
Athlete/person with disabilities
|Athlete/person with a disability or Paralympian
Place the athlete or person first rather than referring to his or her disability
|The handicapped or the physically handicapped||People with a physical disability|
|Normal athletes||Able-bodied athletes|
|A paraplegic, paraplegics||A person with paraplegia|
|A quadriplegic, quadriplegics||A person with quadriplegia|
|The blind||Persons with a visual impairment or blindness|
|A retard/the retarded||A person with an intellectual disability|
|Spastic||A person with cerebral palsy|
|Abnormal, subnormal, defective, deformed
These are negative terms which imply failure to reach personal perfection
|Specify the disability|
Most people with a disability don’t see themselves as afflicted
|Say the person has… (the disability)|
|Confined to a wheelchair
A wheelchair provides mobility and is not confining
|Say uses a wheelchair|
|Cripple or crippled
These words convey a negative image of a twisted ugly body
|Say with a physical disability|
|Disease (when used as equal to disability)
Many disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and spinal injuries, are not caused by any illness or disease
This has the connotations that the person’s limbs were cut off like a tree
|Suffers from, sufferer
People with a disability do not necessarily suffer
|Say is/has… (the disability)|
People with a disability are not necessarily victims and usually prefer not to be perceived as such
|Say is/has… (the disability)|
In general, it is helpful to remember that disability is a characteristic or a situation of life but does not replace life itself. Life very often proves to be stronger than any kind of disability.
|Download the Reporting on Persons with a Disability document as a Adobe PDF file|
*This information has been provided courtesy of the International Paralympic Committee (www.paralympic.org)