Wheelchair Rugby League is definitely a sport to watch, not least because it’s insanely inclusive. With the World Cup Final held on November 18th, there is no better time to get involved.
Everyone, disabled or not, can partake in this sport; the only rule being that they have to be strapped into a wheelchair when playing. So anybody can play this sport, immediately setting it apart from many others, and from popular beliefs that this is a disability-exclusive sport. There are men’s and women’s leagues up and down the country consisting of teams such as Halifax Panthers, Leeds Rhinos and London Roosters as well as national teams, captained by Leeds Rhinos’ player Tom Halliwell.
Imagine running rugby, the aggression and strength seen in those games, now add hard, metal wheelchairs to the mix. Players of this sport are fearless to say the least. They not only have to be concerned about being tackled to the ground whilst being strapped into a wheelchair but also the large chance that they will be run over by another player.
The strength that these players have is extremely impressive. They are able to move themselves, at quite some speed, across indoor rugby pitches using nothing but their arms. Not to mention with the ball in one hand and the threat of being tackled.
The rules for this game are more or less the exact same as the commonly spectated game. Four points for a try and two points for a ‘kick’ at goal. The only difference being that in the wheelchair sport players will punch the ball with their fists instead of kicking it. Possession lasts for six tackles and all players wear tags on their shoulders. When one is removed by an opponent that counts as one ‘tackle’.
Wheelchair rugby has made history this year by being part of the Rugby League World Cup as a main event for the first time. It was postponed due to the pandemic but, finally, the England men kicked off the tournament on 3rd November 2022 playing Australia. The other teams taking part in the competition are France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Spain and the USA. The final was held on 18th November, England faced France in the final and won 28-24, making up for the loss England faced at the hands of France in this years Six Nations.
Wheelchair rugby is such an impressive sport to watch, the talent that the players display is incredible! The ability to effortlessly lift themselves and a wheelchair off the floor after a tackle, the speed in which they can move across the pitch and the strength and lack of fear that they have, potentially deserves much more recognition than they currently have.
This highly inclusive sport is definitely one to watch out for.