It's a well-known fact that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. However, not everyone knows that soccer is just one of the many sports that make up the game of football. Rugby is one of them.
This football variety originated in Rugby, a market town in Warwickshire, England. History has it that it was created in 1823, when William Webb Ellis, a Rugby School pupil, broke the established soccer rules by picking up the ball and running with it.
In 1845, the first rules of the Rugby Football Union were established at the Rugby School. As the sport developed, the Rugby Football Union became one of the two primary forms of the sport, the other being the Rugby League.
Today, hundreds of millions of people around the globe play and enjoy Rugby. Given our mission, we're choosing to delve into the exciting world of adaptive rugby. Here, we'll emphasize the adaptive sports equipment and accessories that help rugby players with disabilities play the game enthusiastically and in comfort.
Ready? Let's go!
Rugby for Individuals with Disabilities: The Basics
Rugby is a sport that anyone across genders, skill levels, ages, etc., can play. As we already mentioned, people living with disabilities are no exception, as there is a form of rugby adapted to suit their sporting needs.
Wheelchair rugby, also called "murderball" or "quad rugby," is a form of rugby that caters to rugby players living with paralysis. The sport is a combination of rugby, handball, and basketball. In wheelchair rugby, the teams, comprising four players, carry the ball across the goal line of the opposing team. As a full-contact sport, players are allowed to use their wheelchairs to block and hold their opponents.
Under the USA Wheelchair Rugby League, this sport has grown to be a highly competitive one. The League is represented internationally by the United States national wheelchair rugby league team, nicknamed The Hawks. Wheelchair rugby is played at the Paralympic Games, with 26 countries participating. Many more countries are developing national programs to ensure that they are represented in the international competition.
Common Adaptive Equipment for Wheelchair Rugby
As an adaptive sport, wheelchair rugby uses specialized equipment to enable persons living with disabilities to play with ease. Just like the name implies, the primary adaptive equipment for this sport is a wheelchair that is different from standard ones.
Generally, there are two types of wheelchairs that have been adapted for this sport-the offensive/high-point chairs and defensive/low-point chairs. Offensive wheelchairs are suitable for players with more functional abilities in categories 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5. These chairs have front bumpers and wings that help to ensure that other wheelchairs don't get hooked to them. They are also configured for mobility and speed.
On the other hand, defensive wheelchairs are typically used by players with disabilities classified under 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5. Like the offensive wheelchairs, defensive chairs have bumpers. However, unlike the high-point chairs, the bumpers in low-point chairs are made to hook and hold opponents.
Generally, offensive wheelchairs help players to move around the court easily and dodge players on the defensive. Meanwhile, defensive wheelchairs are set up to help the players tackle and block the offensive players.
Adaptive Sports Accessories for Rugby Players
Wheelchair rugby players use more than just wheelchairs to play. Here are several other accessories that are necessary for their comfort:
Many wheelchair rugby players wear different types of gloves primarily to keep their hands and skin protected from blisters, abrasions, etc., as they play. Most times, they choose affordable rubber-coated cotton gloves that give them excellent grip and help them navigate the court more effectively.
This type of glove is durable, practical, and comfortable. Experts advise players to secure their gloves to their wrists with tape to prevent them from slipping.
Wheelchair rugby players have to be strapped to their chairs by their waists, thighs, and feet as part of their preparation process for each game. This helps them to maintain stability and improve their overall performance on the court. Without strapping, players will be less able to control their movements and at more risk of sustaining injuries in the course of the game.
Wheelchair rugby straps come in different types and materials. For example, some straps are made of leather while others are produced with rubber, nylon, neoprene, etc. There are also different strapping techniques tailored to various categories of players. So, it's important for players to consult an expert to determine what's best for them.
There are many more items that wheelchair rugby players carry in their gym bags to keep them as comfortable as they can be throughout the game. They include:
- Water and spray bottles
- Athletic tape
- Spare spokes, bearings, etc
- Extra t-shirt, gloves, and strapping
Gear Up as USA Wheelchair Rugby League Host Wales in Myrtle Beach this February
All over the world, there are associations dedicated to ensuring that rugby enthusiasts living with disabilities play, enjoy, and have fun with the sport. In the United States, Coastal Adaptive Sports, a non-profit organization, is a good example of one such body.
At Coastal Adaptive Sports, we facilitate sports opportunities for individuals who have disabilities. That is why we are happy to inform you that the USA Wheelchair Rugby League will be hosting Wales Wheelchair RL for a rematch in Myrtle Beach.
The matches slated for the 2nd and 3rd of February, 2024 at Myrtle Beach Sports Center will be the highlights of the inaugural The Beers of America Craft Beer & Adaptive Sports Festival in conjunction with Visit Myrtle Beach Tourism. They're also the first two international wheelchair rugby matches to be played in 2024.
Join us for the action in February 2024 or contact us now to get involved.