Thursday, March 30, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Wheelchair rugby league allows the beautiful game to be played by anybody and everybody, allowing people with and without disabilities to play on the same team
The inclusive rugby league variation was founded in France around 2008, being taken up by Queenslanders in 2016 and seeing a steady growth ever since.
It’s grown to incorporate north Queensland and southeast Queensland zones that compete for selection in a Queensland team that takes on New South Wales in an annual state of origin clash.
An NRL Wheelchair Come, Try N Play event is coming to Mackay this weekend to give locals a taste.
“The main difference is, obviously, you’re in a wheelchair,” said NRL Wheelchair Participation Programs Officer Zac Schumacher.
“We play on an indoor court that’s 46m x 20m and we play five a side.
“The jerseys have tags on their shoulders and removing one tag constitutes a tackle.
“Kicking is done by an AFL hand pass or conversions are done with kicking tees but with a fist.
“It’s open to everybody: men, women, abled, disabled – it’s a fully inclusive sport.”
Mr Schumacher discovered wheelchair rugby league after attending a Come, Try N Play event himself in 2016, the sport helping him with a hip injury at the time.
“I love the teamwork,” he said.
“Being able to play with mates that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to play sport with due to injury on a level playing field.
“I’ve been lucky enough to represent Australia twice, Queensland four times and I’m now a Participation Programs Officer for Veterans Engagement.”
The NRL Wheelchair team will be running a Come, Try N Play event tomorrow, Saturday, April 1, inviting anyone to give the sport a go.
“We’ll run some skills and drills, a little bit of gameplay, just getting people familiar with the chairs and the rules and the game and obviously having fun is our main priority,” Mr Schumacher said.
“Just come along, give it a try.
“It’s something different and it’s great fun.”
These Come, Try N Play events also allow NRL Wheelchair to gauge interest in the sport.
“Hopefully if we have enough interest, we can start a local Mackay competition to verse Townsville and possibly Cairns, to then pick the north Queensland team from that for the state cup later in the year,” Mr Schumacher said.
WHAT: NRL Wheelchair Come, Try N Play
WHEN: Saturday, April 1 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm
WHERE: PCYC Mackay
Wheelchair rugby league is a 5-a-side inclusive variation played on an indoor court. Photos supplied