IWRF Establishes Wheelchair Rugby Variants Working Group
The IWRF Variants Working Group (VWG) has been set up to discuss wheelchair sports based on able-bodied rugby, which are being developed across the world.
The first meeting was held in August 2016. The VWG recognized the need to understand more about these sports, educate the IWRF membership about these sports, provide more information and consult widely on the implications of these sports and what IWRF’s position should be. VWG members have been in contact and will continue to talk with the organizers and athletes of these sports.
Some of the sports are based on the Paralympic version of wheelchair rugby; some have developed with their own rules. Often, they are developing and including the name of wheelchair rugby. The following are links to some of the more established sports:
- Wheelchair Sevens Rugby Union – www.wheelchair-sevens.com
- Wheelchair Rugby League - www.wheelchairrl.co.uk
- Invictus Games (multisport event) - www.invictusgamesfoundation.org
As the Paralympic sport grows in popularity and develops worldwide, nations are seeing more interest from people wanting to play wheelchair rugby. Many of the IWRF nations and clubs will have experienced people wanting to play wheelchair rugby.
Many of those experiences will see people playing in training sessions and wanting to become more involved. Often, players may not be able to become more involved in competition because of their individual disability. There are also friends and families playing within clubs so they can be included and create more numbers to help with training.
The development of Olympic and Paralympic sports starts small, and grows due to many factors, e.g. number of participants, whether it is exciting to watch and play, funding and sponsorship, established competitions.
The IWRF is recognized by both the International Paralympic Committee and World Rugby as the lead organization for the development of Paralympic wheelchair rugby. As the global governing body for the sport, IWRF and its members have agreed in our strategic plan to engage with new and developing sports.
This strategic plan is long-term, starting now and looking beyond the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020. It needs to involve our member nations. The IWRF would like to hear from our nations about their experiences regarding the development of variation sports. We will also be involving the IWRF Athlete's Council and our Committees, asking for advice and comments.
The IWRF Development Committee has recently circulated a survey to all nations, which includes questions for members about wheelchair rugby variants.
The plan for the VWG over the next few months is as follows:
- Promote what the Variations Working Group have been established to look at.
- Communicate with IWRF member nations to give them an opportunity to contact the IWRF about their experiences with new and developing sports.
- Meet in October 2016 and discuss any feedback from members.
- Present the topic at the IWRF General Assembly and invite members to discuss. Topics for discussion can include:
- How variants can benefit wheelchair sports and wheelchair rugby
- Insuring that wheelchair rugby stays within the Paralympic Games
- Risks if we don't work with developing variant sports
- Experiences that IWRF member nations have with variant sports
IWRF Variants Working Group members are:
- Richard Allcroft, Chair – IWRF Director, GBR
- Katie Bourke – IWRF Classifier, AUS
- Mandy Goff – Administrator, USA
- James Gumbert – Coach, USA
- Chérie Harris – IWRF Development, NZL
- Alan Lynch – Athlete Council, IRL
- Matt Mitchell – Athlete. AUS
- Eron Main – IWRF CEO
- Jaime McKeown - World Rugby
- Hogan Lovells representative (to be confirmed)
If you have any comments or questions the IWRF would like to hear from you. Please send your enquiries through to IWRF via the CEO at