Basic Rules

Basic Rules

  • The game is played with an official IWRF game ball on a hardwood basketball court marked with sidelines, baselines, a mid-court line, a centre circle and two key (goal) areas
  • The object of the game is to carry the ball over the opposing team’s goal line to score a point
  • For a goal to count, at least two wheels of the wheelchair must cross the goal line, and the player must have firm control of the ball when he or she crosses the goal line
  • Each team is allowed to have up to 12 players, but only 4 are allowed on the court at one time
  • All players are assigned one of seven numerical sport classes, which is a measure of their functional ability. This number ranges from 0.5 (the least function) to 3.5 (the highest level of function), and is calculated in 0.5 increments.
  • The total value of the sport classes on court for each team must not exceed 8.0 points. Teams are allowed an extra 0.5 points for each female player they have on the court
  • The game is played in four 8-minute quarters; there is a 2-minute break at the end of the first and third quarters, and a 5-minute break at the half
  • On each possession of the ball, teams have 40 seconds to score a goal, unless there is less time than this left on the game clock
  • After a goal has been scored, or after any stoppage in play, the player has 10 seconds to inbound the ball
  • The team that inbounds the ball in its own end has 12 seconds to advance the ball over the mid-court line
  • No player on the team in control of the ball may remain in the opposing team’s key area for more than 10 seconds
  • The player in possession of the ball must dribble or pass the ball at least once every 10 seconds
  • The defending team must have no more than three players in their key area while defending it
  • Wheelchair Rugby is a contact sport in which chair to chair contact is permitted, but physical body contact between players is not allowed. However, players may not strike another player’s wheelchair anywhere behind the axle of the rear wheel in such a way as to cause the chair to rotate horizontally or vertically
  • In regulation play, each team is allowed four 30-second time-outs which may be called by players on the floor, and two 1-minute time-outs that can be called from the bench
  • In the event of a tie after regulation play, an overtime period of 3 minutes is played. If the game is still tied, additional overtime periods are played until one team is declared the winner
  • There is a two-minute break between overtime periods, and each team is awarded one additional 30-second timeout for each overtime period played
  • A regulation game will take approximately 115 minutes to complete


Athletes must meet minimal eligibility criteria to play the sport of Wheelchair Rugby. The criteria are based on the functional profile of an athlete with tetraplegia/quadriplegia, and assess the presence and level of trunk function, leg function, and impairment of the upper limbs. Assessing minimum eligibility is done prior to any other testing. An athlete who does not pass the minimum eligibility test will not be classified further. Athletes who pass minimum eligibility may still be determined to be ineligible following the full classification assessment.

While most Wheelchair Rugby athletes have tetraplegia/quadriplegia due to spinal cord injury or neuromuscular conditions such as poliomyelitis, many athletes have other conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, various types of central and peripheral nervous system conditions, multiple amputations, congenital limb defects and other similar musculoskeletal conditions. All athletes with physical disabilities may be eligible for Wheelchair Rugby if their impairment type and severity results in activity limitations that impact sport performance in a similar way to that of athletes with tetraplegia.

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