2017 GIO National Championship and GIO 2018 IWRF World Championship Test Event Wrap
In the first week of August 2017, six of the world’s finest wheelchair rugby teams clearly showed why wheelchair rugby isn’t your regular seat at the rugby!!
While Wheelchair Rugby National Championships are held annually in Australia, this year’s event was unique in that there were two Championships on offer - the 2017 GIO Wheelchair Rugby National Championship and the GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship Official Test Event.
The reason for the enhanced competition, is that next year Australia will host the GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship; and as with all major international sporting championships it is customary to have an Official Test Event to trial and evaluate all key event components such as accommodation, ground transport and competition. Photo accreditation was also trialled, as was the sports presentation that will be implemented during the World Championship next August.
Competition took place from Wednesday 2 – Friday 4 August, with Australia’s top state teams going head-to-head with national teams from Canada, Japan and New Zealand in the 2017 GIO Wheelchair Rugby National Championship.
With more than 1,000 primary and high-school students attending as part of the Schools Program run by Disability Sports Australia’s event partner – Wheelchair Sports NSW, the atmosphere was terrific, with the students enthusiastically supporting the teams on court.
After a tightly contested game on Friday night, the 2016 champions - the GIO NSW Gladiators (68) defeated Victoria Protect Thunder (52), and were again crowned National Champions.
The following day competition moved next door to the Genea Netball Centre, where all six (6) teams vied for the GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship Official Test Event Trophy.
The Bronze Medal Game saw the GIO NSW Gladiators take on Team Canada. At full-time, the score was 65 – 54, in favour of the GIO NSW Gladiators.
This game was followed by the Gold Medal Game between Japan and Victoria Protect Thunder. Following an enthralling game of world-class wheelchair rugby, Japan was victorious (54 to 49) and were awarded the title of GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship Official Test Event Champions, with Victoria Protect Thunder taking home silver.
All games were filmed and live streamed for viewers around the world and the archived matches can be viewed HERE.
Critical to the successful delivery of the event was the incredible commitment and willingness of some 50 civilian volunteers and 20 Australian Defense Force (primarily Royal Australian Navy) personnel. Many of these volunteers assisted not only on competition days, but also in the lead-up to and after the event, performing pick ‘n’ pack and driving duties.
We look forward to seeing you next year at the GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship, 5-10 August 2018, where the top twelve teams from around the world will descend on Sydney Olympic Park and compete for the coveted title of the IWRF World Champions, which is currently held by the hosts, Australia!