Wheelchair Rugby League 101: Everything You Need to Know About the Sports

wheelchair rugby league

In Australia, the Wheelchair Rugby League has become a household sport that everyone enjoys because of its energy and exciting plays.

First launched in the early 2000s, the sport has grown in popularity across the country. This modified version of traditional rugby gives people with disabilities the chance to show off their athleticism and love for the game. 

In this latest blog post from Gilani Engineering, we’ll discuss everything there is to know about Wheelchair Rugby League Australia.

What is Wheelchair Rugby League?

Wheelchair Rugby Leagues is a fast-paced intense sport played by two teams. It’s an adapted sport from traditional rugby for athletes in a sports wheelchair. Two teams with four players each play on a typical basketball court. Wheelchair rugby league players aim to carry the ball past the goal line of their opponents to score. 

What is Wheelchair Rugby League?
Wheelchair Rugby League 101: Everything You Need to Know About the Sports 1

What are the changes made to Wheelchair Rugby League from traditional rugby?

Similar to wheelchair basketball and other adaptive sports, there are several modifications made to the Wheelchair Rugby League to allow players with disabilities safe and fair play. Among the important wheelchair rugby league rules changes made are:

1. Classification system

Players in the wheelchair rugby league are classified based on the degree of their physical disability. Each player is categorized based on a point value system between 0.5 to 3.5. Players with a high score are considered to have a more severe disability than those with a low score. This is done to guarantee that the wheelchair rugby league teams have a balanced mix of players with different abilities. 

2. Modified rules

Rugby is a traditionally physical game and to ensure the safety of the wheelchair players, physical contact is regulated to avoid rough play. To enforce this, inappropriate hits and dangerous manoeuvres are penalised. Rules about passing, scoring and ball handling have also been modified to consider the difficulties that come in playing wheelchair sports (same with basketball wheelchair including ball dribbling).

3. Player Safety

To prevent injuries, safety precautions are put in place. This involves following rules about the appropriate wheelchair to use while playing (no electric wheelchair or standing wheelchair), wearing protective gear such as gloves and helmets and acting sportsmanlike at all times.

4. Accessibility considerations

Wheelchair rugby league matches are often done in accessible venues to accommodate the players and spectators. These venues often include accessible toilets, designated seating areas and installed ramps to all areas.

What is the Wheelchair Rugby League State of Origin?

The Wheelchair Rugby League State of Origin is an annual rugby match played between two Australian state representatives, New South Wales and Queensland. 

Wheelchair Rugby Rules
Wheelchair Rugby League 101: Everything You Need to Know About the Sports 2

What is the wheelchair rugby league world rankings?

As of November 2023, the wheelchair rugby league world rankings are as follow for the top 10 spots:

  1. United States
  2. Australia (represented by the Australia wheelchair rugby league team Wheelaroos)
  3. Japan
  4. Great Britain
  5. Canada
  6. France
  7. Denmark
  8. New Zealand
  9. Germany
  10. Colombia

For the complete ranking and statistics, click here.


Are Wheelchair Rugby League players disabled?

Yes. Players who play wheelchair rugby league have mobility limitations and play the sport while in their wheelchairs.

What is the Wheelchair Rugby League team in Australia?

The Wheelchair Rugby League team in Australia is the Wheelaroos. After the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup in 2022, Australia’s world rank became number 2. 

What is the difference between the Wheelchair Rugby League and Union? 

The major difference between a Wheelchair Rugby League and a Union is the number of players and physicality of the game. There are fewer players in rugby league competing for possession of the ball. Rugby Union on the other hand is a more physical game and tackling is not as regulated compared to rugby league.

Why do wheelchair rugby league players wear tags? 

Wheelchair rugby league players wear velcro tags on both shoulders. Defenders must remove a tag on the ball carrier of the opposing team to be counted as a tackle.

How many minutes is wheelchair rugby league? 

Wheelchair rugby league is played for 80 minutes.

Can paraplegics play wheelchair rugby?

Yes. Any players with limb mobility limitations can play wheelchair rugby.