Rugby is not for the faint of heart. Wheelchair rugby, also known as Murder Ball, is no exception.
On April 21, more than 120 wheelchair rugby athletes from around the world will converge at the University of Houston for the 2016 U.S. Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) National Championship Tournaments. The games are hosted in partnership with TIRR Memorial Hermann.
“These athletes are the best of the best, and spectators are in for some outstanding competition,” said Michael Cottingham, professors and director of Adaptive Athletics at UH, an organization that promotes wheelchair sports on campus. “Athletes train and compete all year for this event in the hopes of being named national champions. We invite the public to come see some outstanding rugby and learn more about disability sport. Plus we are excited to be co-hosting with TIRR Memorial Hermann.”
Games will be played on courts in the UH Campus Recreation and Wellness Center April 21 to 24. Competitions begin at 9 a.m. and are played through the afternoon on three courts. The winners will be crowned the Division I and Division II national champions for 2016. For a complete schedule of events, visit Adaptive Athletics on Facebook.
Among the teams participating is the fifth seeded team in the nation, the TIRR Memorial Hermann Texans. The team consists of 12 athletes who range in age from 19 to 45.
“We're playing the best we've played all season and are eager to get on the court and represent the city of Houston and TIRR Memorial Hermann,” said Eric Ingram, UH graduate student and a starter for the TIRR Memorial Hermann Texans. The Texans are considered a dark horse to win the championships.
“We have been Division II for the past several years, so we are excited to play against the best in Division I,” said Randy Gilmer, head coach for the TIRR Memorial Hermann Texans. “We have had a great year and we believe that we can compete against anybody.”
The USQRA is the governing body for wheelchair rugby in the nation and is responsible for selecting and training the team that represents the U.S. in international tournaments. To participate, athletes must have loss of function in at least three limbs. Using rules and elements from wheelchair basketball, hockey and handball, wheelchair rugby is a full contact sport and intensely physical.
Cottingham also is pursuing research related wheelchair sport. Several of the tournament’s athletes will participate in his study on the impact of the sport on employment, self-image, relationships and mental health. (To view Prof Cottingham’s research and publications, click here.)
View a video of wheelchair rugby at UH.
WHAT: 2016 U.S. Quad Rugby Association National Championship Tournament, hosted by TIRR Memorial Hermann and Adaptive Athletics at UH.
WHEN: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., April 21- 24
WHERE: UH Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, University Blvd at Calhoun.