1 Nov 2022
What is the history and background of wheelchair rugby league?
Everything you need to know about wheelchair rugby league ahead of the November 3 start
By Jonny Bray
The Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup is being held alongside the men's and women's tournaments for the first time this autumn.
Developed in 2004 by French rugby league player, coach and official, Wally Salvan, the sport has gone from strength to strength in the time since.
It will be a tournament of firsts, with prize money being awarded and competitors receiving the same participation fees as players in the other competitions.
It will only be the fourth World Cup in the sport's history but fans old and new have plenty to look forward to ahead of the start of the competition on November 3.
There are some key rules to note ahead of the start of the tournament.
A tackle is counted when a player takes a tag off a shoulder and there is also a modified version of the play-the-ball rule after a tackle.
The game is played with a size four rugby ball and there are the same offside rules as the 13-a-side game.
When it comes to kicks, penalties, dropouts and conversions, players will need to use their fists, but don't worry, the ball can still only be passed backwards.
It is generally played on a handball court and there are indoor rugby posts put in place for conversions, drop kicks and penalties.
The Early Years
The first Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup was held in Sydney in 2008.
Four teams took part in the tournament, with England winning the final against Australia 44-12 to take the trophy home.
The next edition was held in Gillingham five years later, though this time six sides took part as the sport continued to grow.
England were involved in the final yet again, but this time around they fell to a 44-40 defeat against France in a nail-biting final.
France hosted the tournament in 2017 and became the first team to win on home soil after beating England 38-34 in another closely fought contest.
Australia finished third, with Italy in fourth while Wales and Spain finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Seven teams took part five years ago and the number of sides in the competition will rise to eight this time around.
An Exciting Future
The 2021 Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup is set to be the biggest tournament in the sport's history, with eight teams competing across three venues.
London's Copper Box Arena, the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, and Manchester Central will host 18 fixtures featuring the world's best players.
England and Australia will both be in Group A along with Ireland and Spain, while Group B will see France, Scotland, Wales and the USA go head-to-head for a spot in the last four.
The semi-final matches take place back-to-back on November 12, with the final in Manchester on November 18.
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets