History

Wheelchair Rugby was invented in 1977 in Winnipeg, Canada by a group of quadriplegic athletes who were looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball. To this day, Wheelchair Rugby has remained as a sport for athletes with functional limitations both in legs and arms.

Wheelchair Rugby was originally called Murderball and the name tells a lot about the nature of the sport. Wheelchair Rugby is the only full contact wheelchair sport and the Wheelchair Rugby chairs are designed for contacts. Later on the name was changed to Wheelchair Rugby even though it is not strictly rugby on wheelchairs. There are influences from many other team sports such as basketball.

In the 80s Wheelchair Rugby was played only in North America. In 1989 a team from Great Britain took part in a tournament played in Toronto, Canada. After that the development has been fast. In 1993 Wheelchair Rugby was played already in 15 countries.

Wheelchair Rugby was introduced in Finland in 1995 and National team was founded shortly after that. Finland participated in the World Championship for the first time in 1998 in Canada. Finland hasn't been able to break through among the top teams yet. Their best result from the World Championship is 10th place in 2014. In the European Championship their best result is sixth place.

It has been hard climb to the top for other European teams also. No European team has ever been at the podium in the World Championship or the Paralympic Games. USA, Canada and Oceanian teams Australia and New Zealand have been the most successful teams in Wheelchair Rugby.

In 1996 Wheelchair Rugby was included as a demonstration sport in the Atlanta Paralympic Games with 6 countries competing. Wheelchair Rugby was recognized as a full medal sport for the first time at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Finland has hosted the Wheelchair Rugby A Division European Championship twice. In 2007 the Games were held in Espoo and in 2015 in Pajulahti.