Australia 2014 Wheelchair Rugby Championship Set
When the reverberation of two gladiators smashing into one another cracks through your eardrums with sheer force and determination, you know you’re about to see an epic fight. This is wheelchair rugby.
This October, Fierce 4 Rugby Nationals – Australia’s elite national competition – will be taking place with the generous support of its major sponsor, GIO, at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.
This year is especially unique as several of the competing athletes will rock up for the first time as world champions! In early August this year, the Australian Steelers, including NSW star athlete, Ryley Batt OAM, traveled to Odense, Denmark to compete against the best wheelchair rugby players in the world. They succeeded in returning as the World Champions, outplaying Canada in the finals – the country in which wheelchair rugby (then called Murderball) was founded in 1976.
“I may be sitting down but I’ll still kick your ass,” is one of several powerful quotes on the elegantly gritty black and white photography featuring many of the GIO NSW Gladiators. The images are beautifully heroic and the wheelchairs pose like solid shields protecting real live athletic warriors. This new and compelling campaign, which launches Fierce 4 Rugby was created by Brett Howlett (Hatch Solutions) and shot by world-renowned photographer Simon Harsent. The posters will be plastered around Sydney to help raise awareness and excitement for 2014 GIO Wheelchair Rugby Championships hosted by Disability Sports Australia and Wheelchair Sports NSW.
They will host three days of intense competition from 23–25 October at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre. Six state teams (including one from NZ) will battle it out for the first place trophy as Australia’s National Champs.
If you don’t know much about wheelchair rugby, it’s okay. You won’t be short on finding videos on YouTube featuring the smashing, bashing and slamming of those custom made wheelchairs sparkling with dents from hit after hit. There is even a captivating documentary aptly titled “Murderball”. It’s the only game quadriplegics, or “quads”, can play. Each team has 4 players on court (hence, Fierce “4”) with a maximum point value of 8.0 combined. Players range in classification from 0.5 to the highest level of mobility at 3.5. The game is a cross between basketball, ice hockey and bit of Mad Max! There are four quarters, each eight minutes in length. It’s strategic as much as it is confronting. And it’s incredibly fun to watch live.
Some of these inspiring athletes have been playing for years and others are still fresh off recovery from life-altering accidents, ranging from surfing to car crashes that have left these athletes with permanent injuries. But that does not stop them. These talented athletes crave competition and camaraderie and soar when they’re on the court. Matches fulfill the athletic aspect for the players and the sport adds a whole lot more, including friendship, local support and an international community.
Sydney-siders are lucky enough to have the opportunity to see this year’s national battle live at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre over three days. Entrance is a gold coin donation. Get there early, as seats are limited. There are six matches each day kicking off at 10am. The finals will be held from 3:30pm Saturday with Bronze medal match and 6pm for the Gold medal match.
In between, you can enjoy the annual Celebrity Match with the likes of Nathan Sharpe, Fierce 4 Rugby’s 2014 Ambassador and former ARU Wallabies Captain who will have a go with other local celebrities.
Sharpe has been tweeting his excitement though he says, “this sport scares the bejeesus out of me!”
The tournament is sponsored generously by GIO. In addition, funding for DSA is provided by the Australian Sports Commission.
You can find all event details and reserve tickets at fierce4rugby.com.au due to launch early September. Follow all the action before, during and after the matches on Twitter @fierce4rugby and keep the buzz going by tweeting with #fierce4rugby. You can also ‘like’ the Disability Sports Australia page on Facebook for news and updates.
If you can’t make it to Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, you can view all the action Live Streaming on Epicentre.tv - head to the Live Events section on the website or click this link to check out the event page: bit.ly/1t23ZZv
For more information:
Alison Howlett, Event Manager
Disability Sports Australia
(02) 8116 9720