If you are a little confused, that is how Team GB's captain, Steve Brown, referred to the sport which he competes in and consequently holds so dear to his heart:
Wheelchair Rugby or 'Murderball', as it has often been described since the release of the Oscar nominated documentary of the same name in 2005.
Today marks the opening of the game of Wheelchair Rugby's pool phase at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with Great Britain battling the world champions, USA.
For those unaware of the sport, it's tough, uncompromising and certainly not for the feint hearted. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to halt reading now. It is almost gladiatorial-esque in nature...or maybe akin to 90's favourite Robot Wars if you prefer more modern imagery!
That primalism of wheelchair rugby though has captured the imagination of many onlookers since it's inception in the 1970s and growth in the sport is increasing at a rapid rate.
Tickets for this year's competition were sold out in 3 days. I myself was one of the unlucky fans to miss out.
So what exactly is it and how can one watch it?
What are the Rules?
'Wheelchair rugby' may be rugby by name, but in reality is an amalgimation of five popular sports:
Rugby, American Football, Aussie Rules, Basketball and Ice Hockey.
|A regulation 'Murderball' court|
Each team has 12 players (mix gendered) with any four allowed on the court at one time.
In essence, the idea is to carry the ball across the opposition's goal line (much the same as in rugby), crossing the line between two set cones. In doing so you are awarded a 'goal' for your team and the team with the most goals come the final whistle wins.
Each team has 40 seconds to score a goal before posession is turned over (much like basketball) but has to also bounce the ball every 10 seconds (similarities with Aussie Rules). Here's where thing hot up a little though.
Opposition players are allowed to make contact with the player in posession's armoured wheelchairs in the act of preventing a goal (so long as contact is not made behind the rear wheel, which is illegal).
The resulting collisions are often jaw dropping, as the aluminium wheels are also incidently jammed with devices called 'spikes' attached to the front. Sparks fly, the crowd gasps and wheel chairs get tipped over.... often.
It may be a sport for the physically disabled, but the athleticism and bravery on show is just as admirable as the able bodied game. Just watch one match and you'll understand how the game got it's slightly hyperbolic nickname 'Murderball'
Which athletes are eligible to play?
The 'classification rules' behind who can and can't play wheel chair rugby are quite complicated, both personally and in terms of the dynamic of the teams allowed to be on the court.
First of all, to be eligible, players must suffer from 'some form of physical disability with a loss of function in both the upper and lower limbs'.
Once they are deemed eligible to contest, athletes are then classified according to their functional level and assigned a point value ranging from 0.5 (lowest ability) to 3.5 (highest ability). The total value for the team on the court at one time can never exceed 8 points.
When wheelchair rugby coaches have to deal with these nuances as well as tactics, you wonder how some International Rugby coaches of the past have managed to get 16 players on a pitch!
Where can I watch it?
Not all games will be televised, but if you are a UK resident, games will be showed on Channel 4 from September 5th onwards.
If you are new to the sport, please give it a look as it really is a testament to the possible tenacity of human spirit in overcoming life-changing obstacles.
For more details regarding scheduling of the matches, follow the link below:
Have any readers watched a game of Wheelchair Rugby?
What are your thoughts on the sport?