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19 March 2017

Update from the Variation Working Group

Wheelchair Rugby 7's being played

This article provides an opportunity for the working group to communicate with the IWRF members and keep people updated on the work we’re doing. In this first edition, we’ll introduce you to the group members and provide some background on what the group is all about.



The VWG was established to investigate the increasing popularity of wheelchair rugby and how it is developing worldwide. The IWRF have been aware of sports developing that use the name of wheelchair rugby and/or have a resemblance to the able-bodied sport of rugby.


The Paralympic version has been growing for 40 years and is also continues to evolve. For the purpose of understanding and engaging with developing sports, The IWRF defines a variation as any sport that has different rules to the Paralympic version. This includes but is not limited to: 


  • Low point rugby
  • Invictus Games Wheelchair rugby
  • Open League Wheelchair rugby (Korea)
  • Wheelchair Rugby League
  • Wheelchair Rugby Sevens

Some of these sports are well-established in their own rights. The Low Point Game is our closest ‘variant’ and recently IWRF has received interest from multi-sport events that would like to showcase this version and create some form of championship. The VWG is looking into this and value the members’ feedback. 


Variation, may not be the best terminology to use. The VWG would be interested in hearing from people with their own perspectives.


Aim and reporting of group

The VWG aims to look at how the IWRF can increase the participation of wheelchair rugby. It is looking at the most effective ways to engage and work with developing variations of the Paralympic sport.


Its long-term vision is to look at the benefits and risks of whether it can be the governing body for these developing sports. Also, whether developing rules and all the associated structures for new and developing sports is viable.


Group members and Bios

If you’d like learn more about the VWG members, please see pics and bios on the IWRF site HERE


Frankfurt – conversations from the IWRF General Assembly

Several members of the VWG presented as part of the federations General Assembly (GA) in Frankfurt recently. Thanks to everyone who completed the survey prior to the GA to give us a snapshot of current understanding, opinions and involvement.


The survey results, which were presented at the GA, indicated positivity from the member nations around furthering our knowledge of variation sports, however more education and communication is required to ensure we are all at the same point in our understanding. The possible benefits of engaging further with variation sports was recognised, including;


  • Need to be inclusive
  • Increase participation
  • Providing clarity for the profile and brands of wheelchair rugby sports
  • Opportunities to expand wheelchair rugby programs.

Another key message received via the survey was the potential benefits of using variation sports to help grow the participation base of wheelchair rugby, particularly in developing nations.


Meeting delegates then separated into smaller ‘breakout’ groups to discuss key concerns and ideas they had around variation sports. Some of the key themes identified by the groups included:


  • Low point version of Paralympic rugby
  • Military partnerships
  • How can variations benefit national development
  • More education and information
  • Classification – what will be required?
  • Resources required to manage or govern variations.

Way forward

Based on the information and feedback received, several key points for the group to work on have been identified. These involve communication and education with the IWRF membership, further investigations operations, opportunities and risks for several existing variation sports including low point wheelchair rugby, Invictus Games and Korean Open league wheelchair rugby.


The Korean Wheelchair Rugby Association (KWRA), Manager Kim Yun Ho, has kindly agreed to work with the IWRF to promote a sport that they have been developing for several years. It is still very early and the IWRF are looking forward to working with one of our member nations in understanding how they use this to develop wheelchair sport in their country.


Look out for future updates!

Thank you to those who have already helped us with initial conversation and questions. We look forward to building on this as we progress.


Tell us more

Do you have questions or comments on the work being done? Do you have news or questions on variations sports in your areas? We’d love to hear from you. Please contact Richard Allcroft, Chair, VWG at