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Quad Rugby

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Quad rugby (also known as wheelchair rugby or murder ball) is an adaptive sport primarily for individuals with quadriplegia or tetraplegia usually as a result of spinal cord injury. However, individuals with other disabilities may participate as well; a player with a non-neurological disability must have limited function in four limbs and a player with a neurological disability must have limited function in at least three limbs. It was originally created in 1977 in Canada as an alternative sport for individuals with limited upper extremity function. Quad rugby is now an international sport played by 32 countries and has been a Paralympic medal sport since 2000. It was also featured in the documentary “Murderball” released in 2005.

Basic rules and equipment

Quad rugby is played on a regulation basketball sized wood court with a regulation volleyball as the ball. The boundaries of the court determine inbounds or out of bounds. At each end of the court there is a ‘key’, which measures 8 meters by 1.75 meters. The back of each key is the goal line and is marked with cones. Crossing the opposing team’s goal line with two wheels while in possession of the ball scores a goal worth one point. The team with the most points at the end of four 8 minute quarters is the winner.

The players must play in manual wheelchairs that meet strict regulations to increase the safety of the players and prevent any player from gaining an advantage over another due to chair design. Chairs feature front bumpers, wings, spoke guards and anti-tip casters. Most players use harnesses to secure them in their chairs and gloves to increase their grip on the ball.

Player classification

Players are classified on a scale from 0.5 to 3.5 based on their functional level determined by doctors or physical therapists. Four players are on the court at once and each team can have a classification point value of 8.0 total. The United States Quad Rugby Association has two novel additional rules that reduce the classification point value of female athletes by 0.5 and allow players older than 45 may play in a line up with 8.5 total classification points, however if the player older than 45 leaves the line up the total returns to 8.0.


The ball is in possession of a player in their arms or in their lap/wheelchair. When the ball is in a player’s lap, at least ¾ of the ball must be visible. While the ball is in possession of a player, they must dribble or pass the ball within 10 seconds or it is a violation. The ball may be passed with the upper extremities only. Defensive players may try and knock the ball out of the offensive player’s arms or lap. A held ball is when a defensive player puts one hand on the ball and can prevent the offensive player from moving it. The result of a held ball is possession is awarded to a team alternatively similar to a jump ball in basketball.

On offense, the ball must be moved past the mid-court line within 15 seconds or a fifteen second violation will be called and they will lose possession of the ball. Similarly, the offensive team cannot bring the ball back over the mid-court line once it has crossed. An offensive player cannot remain in the opposing team’s key for more than 10 seconds or a violation results. The offensive team has 40 seconds to score once a ball is inbounded or possession of the ball is turned over.

Fouls are called for a number of offenses, usually due to putting players at risk for injury. Charging is hitting another player’s chair with excessive force. Contact before the whistle is making contact with another player before the ball is inbounded. Holding other players’ chairs is also illegal however using the chair’s front bumpers to ‘trap’ other players is legal as long as it is not from behind. Pushing is a foul called when the offending player continues to apply force once initial contact is made. Illegal use of hands is when another player is struck with hands trying to make a play on the ball. Spinning is making contact with another player’s chair behind the rear axle. Flagrant fouls can be called for the above offenses if it appears the player is doing it on purpose disregarding player safety. A disqualifying foul may be called for an even more egregious offense.

The result of common fouls is loss of possession on offense or a 1 minute penalty on defense. The defensive player is allowed back in the game if the offense scores before the 1 minute penalty has expired.


International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (2010)

United States Quad Rugby Federation (2010)