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RVA’s First-Ever Wheelchair Rugby Tournament Starts Friday

Originally called “Murderball” due to its aggressive nature, wheelchair rugby is a fast-paced, full-contact Paralympic sport developed in the 1970s for athletes with quadriplegia. The rules combine elements of rugby, basketball, and handball.

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Sportable, Central Virginia’s premier adaptive sports club, is proud to host the first-ever River City Rumble Wheelchair Rugby Tournament July 14-16, 2023 at Highland Springs High School. The United States Wheelchair Rugby Association (USWRA) sanctioned event will feature six low point wheelchair rugby teams from coast-to-coast, including the Richmond-based Sportable Possums.

“We are thrilled to host the region’s first-ever wheelchair rugby tournament,” commented Hunter Leemon, Sportable CEO. “Wheelchair rugby is one of the most entertaining sports to watch. It’s a tough, high-octane, exciting sport experience that is certain to change perceptions about athletes with disabilities. I strongly encourage the RVA community to stop by Highland Springs High School this weekend to cheer on the Sportable Possums.”

Tournament play will begin on Saturday, July 15 with non-stop action on two courts from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The Sportable Possums will take on the WWAR Warriors (Tampa, FL) at 9:00 a.m., the TIRR Texans (Houston, TX) at 11:00 a.m. and the Grand Rapids Thunder (Grand Rapids, MI) at 3:00 p.m. The host side will conclude the tournament on Sunday, July 16 with games against Magee-Medstar (Philadelphia, PA and Washington, D.C.) at 9:00 a.m. and the Northridge Knights (Lake View Terrace, CA) at 11:00 a.m.  Full Schedule >>

The River City Rumble will kick off with a Low Point Wheelchair Rugby Clinic on Friday, July 14 led by USA Low Point Team Head Coach and USAWR two-time medalist Steve Kearley. Wheelchair rugby players will have the opportunity to train alongside Kearley, a wheelchair rugby veteran with over 31 years of playing and 10 years of coaching experience.

Originally called “Murderball” due to its aggressive nature, wheelchair rugby is a fast-paced, full-contact Paralympic sport developed in the 1970s for athletes with quadriplegia. The rules combine elements of rugby, basketball, and handball. Collisions between the custom crafted rugby wheelchairs are a key part of the game as athletes in teams of four carry a round ball across the opposing team’s try line. Athletes are assigned a classification value, which depends on their level of competitive function. A classification of 0.5 means the player is at the lowest functional level, to 3.5, which is the highest level of functional ability.

The River City Rumble is a part of the inaugural USWRA Low Point Rugby season. Low Point Rugby is designed specifically for players classified as a 1.5 or below, with the on-court total not exceeding 3.5 points. This version of the sport allows athletes with lower competitive function, who normally compete in a defensive role, the opportunity to handle the ball, work in an attacking role, and score tries against other low point teams.

Established in 2019, the Sportable Possums Wheelchair Rugby Team trains year-round in Richmond, VA. The Possums compete in tournaments against other wheelchair rugby teams throughout the country as members of the U.S. Wheelchair Rugby Association.

A trailer for the documentary Murderball is below and definitely a movie you should check out.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.