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The Wheelchair Rugby Press Volume 1, Issue 1

August, 2009

Presidents Message from Brad Mikkelsen

Inside this issue PAGE 1 y Presidents Message y 2010 IWAS Games y Development PAGE 2 y Independence News y Zonal Elections y Rugby 7’s in Olympics PAGE 3 y Americas Update

Greetings everyone. 2009 Zonal Championships are almost upon us. National teams around the globe are preparing with intense training camps and are eager for competitions. For the first time, the America’s zone will be holding a championship of their own, which is a tribute to the development that has taken place within their region. South America has had great success, in part because of the two Maximus tournaments held within the last year, and Mexico recently held a clinic in Mexico City. The America’s zone is to be commended for their hard work and determination to grow. It’s important to remind you that elections will be taking place at each of the three zonal championships. If you are interested in serving in one of the many elected positions, you should contact the president within your zone to submit your name and qualifications. Zonal positions are held for two years, and offer a great opportunity to serve the sport. More details on elections and a listing of contacts can be found within this newsletter.

y Asia-Oceania Update y IWRF Contacts PAGE 4 y 40 Second Rule y Equipment Timeouts y Ball Restraints PAGE 5 y 2010 Worlds News y Great Britain Cup y Classification at Zonals PAGE 6 y Maximus Hits Brazil y IWRF World Ranking List y Global Rugby Calendar PAGE 7 y Mexico Gets Rolling y Photo Essay PAGE 8 y Tribute to Our Friend

The IWRF is less than five months away from becoming an Independent Sports Federation! In cooperation with IWAS, we have recently negotiated an agreement on the transfer of governance for Wheelchair Rugby to the IWRF. The target date for the trans-

fer is January 1, 2010 and is to be confirmed at the IWAS General Assembly in Bangalore, India on November 24. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Maura Strange for the guidance and support that IWAS has provided us in this process, thank you also to the IWRF Executive Committee for their time and efforts. We would like to congratulate the International Rugby Board (IRB) on the recent news that the IOC Executive Board has recommended that Rugby 7’s be included in the 2016 Olympic Games. The final vote isn't until October, but we still want to tell the IRB and rugby unions around the world, congratulations! In closing, good luck to all of the countries competing at Zonal Championships. We hope that you are able to give your best effort in advancing to the 2010 IWRF World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Vancouver, Canada. We also want to thank all of the classifiers, referees, table officials, organizing committees, sponsors, and countless volunteers who work so hard to make these tournaments possible. See you on the court! Brad Mikkelsen IWRF President

2010 IWAS World Games by Eron Main, IWRF Competitions Commissioner The IWAS World Games will be held in Bangalore, India, from 22 November to 2 December, 2009. For the first time since 2005, wheelchair rugby will be on the competition program, in the form of a combined development clinic and tournament. Up to six teams will participate in this event, which is targeted at emerging wheelchair rugby nations and development teams from active countries. The competition is open to full national teams from countries ranked below the top 12 on the IWRF world ranking list, and to national development teams from countries ranked in the top twelve. The aim is to provide first-time international experience to players and coaches from active wheelchair rugby nations as well as a first exposure to wheelchair rugby competition for players and coaches from developing wheelchair rugby nations. The event

will include clinics to train classifiers and referees to a national standard. Referee and classifier certification and international classification will not be conducted at this event. Expressions of interest have been received from some countries, but a firm commitment from at least four countries will be required for the event to proceed. The deadline for entries is 25 September 2009. This is an excellent opportunity for countries and players to get a first taste of international competition in a multisport event. I encourage anyone interested in this event to contact IWAS, the event organizer for further information and a copy of the entry package.

Wheelchair Rugby Development by Gail Hamamoto, IWRF Development Commissioner Wheelchair Rugby continues to expand around the globe thanks to the hard work of individuals at the local, national and zonal levels! The latest country to emerge is Malaysia, with athletes and organizers keen to grow the sport with the support of the Asia-Oceania Zone.

be targeted towards teams from developing nations, and development teams from established countries. The event will be an excellent opportunity to create awareness, train officials and classifiers, and provide a springboard for further development of wheelchair rugby in region.

India continues to work on building support for Wheelchair Rugby, and their efforts will be enhanced by the 2009 IWAS World Games taking place in Bangalore this fall. The Games will

The Zone Championships are also fast approaching – with tournaments in Christchurch, New Zealand (Asia Oceania), Buenos Aires, Argentina (Americas) and Hillerod, Denmark (European). The Championships will be an excellent showcase of how far the sport has come, with full complements of teams in every Zone competing for the honor to attend the 2010 World Championships. Many thanks to all of the hard working volunteers, officials, classifiers, administrators, coaches and athletes around the world who are dedicated to the development of wheelchair rugby. Your passion and commitment have made this sport what it is today, and will support its growth far into the future.

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IWRF Independence Update by Eron Main Progress continues towards establishing the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation. The founding board of the IWRF will hold its first meeting later this month to adopt a provisional constitution, which will guide the IWRF until the first General Assembly in late 2010.

“Under the agreement, all current rules and regulations for wheelchair rugby will remain valid until amended by the IWRF”

In co-operation with IWAS, we have recently negotiated an agreement on the transfer of governance of wheelchair rugby to the IWRF. The target date for the transfer is 1 January 2010, to be confirmed at the IWAS General Assembly in Bangalore, India, on November 24. Under the agreement, all current rules and regulations for wheelchair rugby will remain valid until amended by the IWRF. All international classifications, and referee and classifier certifications conducted under IWAS will continue to be respected by the IWRF. We are now in the process of contacting current IWAS members and wheelchair rugby contacts in our 25 active nations to identify which organizations will become members of the IWRF on independence. I'd like to acknowledge all the hard work done in support of the independence process by all the members of the IWRF Executive Committee, as well as the co-operation I have received from Maura Strange, Secretary-General of IWAS, and the assistance, guidance, and advice provided by our colleagues at the International Paralympic Committee and the International Rugby Board. Together, we have been able to lay the foundation for a successful independent IWRF.

2009 Zonal Wheelchair Rugby Championships and Zonal Elections

European Zone Championship



Preparations are well underway for the three Wheelchair Rugby Zone Championships to be held later this year: These will be the first international championships held under the new IWRF International Rules passed in 2008. The results of these Championships will be used to directly qualify teams for seven of the twelve positions at the 2010 Wheelchair Rugby World Championships to be held in Vancouver, Canada.

Elections will be held at each of the three Zone Championships to vote for interested nominees running for key zone positions. Available positions offered within each zone may vary, but typically include a President, Secretary, Development Commissioner, Classification Commissioner, and a Technical Commissioner. All elected positions are held for a two year term, and are served on a volunteer basis without compensation.

European Championship Hillerod, Denmark - 14 -17 October Head Official - Gilles Briere Chief Classifier - Sarah Leighton Website:

Current zone presidents and their emails are listed below for your reference. If you would like to receive a copy of the available job descriptions, or want to submit your name as a possible candidate, please contact the appropriate person below.

Asia-Oceania Championship Christchurch, New Zealand - 2 - 9 November Head Official - Phil Washbourn Chief Classifier - Binnie O'Dwyer Website:

2009 Americas Zone Championship

Americas Championship Buenos Aires, Argentina - 26 October - 1 November Head Official - Bob Lopez Chief Classifier - Doug Mazur Website:

Americas Zone Dan McCauley, President Email: Asia-Oceania Zone Ken Sowden, President Email: European Zone Joke Beekman, President Email:

IRB welcomes IOC Recommendation The International Rugby Board (IRB) is delighted that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board has recommended Rugby Sevens as one of two sports for inclusion in the Olympic Games.

“The Olympic Games would be the pinnacle of the sport for all our athletes and the Rugby Family, providing the opportunity for the best men’s and women’s players in the world to showcase their talent on the world’s greatest sporting stage. ”

Rugby Sevens secured its recommendation in the second round of voting, obtaining the 50 percent plus one majority required with nine of the 14 votes. Five further rounds of voting ensued before the Executive Board confirmed golf as the second recommended sport. In October the IOC Members will vote in Copenhagen on the two sports individually with a straight majority required for Olympic Games' inclusion from 2016. Bernard Lapasset, President of the IRB, said: “We would like to thank the IOC Executive Board for selecting Rugby Sevens from what are seven strong and diverse sports. We recognize the significance of this milestone in our campaign but are also mindful that the ultimate decision rests with the IOC members when they meet in Copenhagen on October 9, 2009. “The Olympic Games would be the pinnacle of the sport for all our athletes and the Rugby Family, providing the opportunity for the best men’s and women’s players in the world to showcase their talent on the world’s greatest sporting stage. The international Rugby community is united behind Rugby Sevens’ campaign and we now look ahead to October.”

Rugby Olympic fact-file Rugby 15’s was played at four Olympic Games: 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924 The following countries became Olympic Champions at rugby: France in 1900, Australia in 1908, USA in 1920 and 1924. The following countries won medals in Olympics rugby tournaments: France - three medals: one gold and two silvers, USA - two gold medals, Britain - one silver and one bronze, Australia - one gold medal, Germany - silver in 1900 and Romania - bronze in 1924. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, played, refereed and promoted Football Rugby as it was called in his days.

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Americas Zone Update by Dan McCauley , Americas Zone President

About the IWRF The International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) was first established in 1993, as a sport section of the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation (ISMWSF). The purpose of the IWRF is to help develop, promote and regulate the sport of Wheelchair Ruby on a global basis. Currently there are thirty countries that actively participate in the sport of Wheelchair Rugby, or who are developing programs within their nation. The IWRF can assist countries interested in establishing programs of their own in a number of ways. To request information on how we can help out please contact us. The International Wheelchair Rugby Federation is a member of International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS), which is formerly known as the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation. IWAS is an organization which enables and supports the growth and achievements of athletes within the Paralympic movement based on the traditions of Stoke Mandeville.

IWRF Executive Committee Brad Mikkelsen, President Cherie Harris, Secretary Cathy Cadieux Vice President of Finance John Bishop Vice President Communications

Dan McCauley Americas Zone President Joke Beekman European Zone President Ken Sowden Asia-Oceania Zone President Anne Hart Classification Commissioner Gail Hamamoto Development Commissioner Eron Main Competitions Commissioner Stan Battock Technical Commissioner Ross Morrison Athletes Representative Click on any name to send that person an email.

The Americas Zone has once again been very active, and teams are busy preparing for the first ever Americas zone championship to be held this October in Argentina. Elections will be held at zonals, and details about this process have been emailed to each country. Unfortunately Colombia and Mexico will not be competing at zonals due to a lack of funding from their NGB’s.

Rio de Janeiro, with teams from Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Great Britain and the United States competing. Clinics were held for both classifiers and referees, and great success was reported on all ends. Mexico recently held a well attended rugby clinic in Mexico City, that was conducted by several people from the USQRA and myself. In the past Mexico has struggled to get their program running, but this clinic may have been the boost they needed to move forward. This October they will be hosting the country's first rugby tournament, so hopefully they are on their way to becoming active. For more information on the Americas Zone please contact Dan McCauley at

In June, Brazil hosted the second edition of the Maximus Open in

Asia-Oceania Zone Update by Ken Sowden , Asia-Oceania Zone President Only 4 months until the Asia Oceania Zone Championships which will see 5 of the 6 teams in the zone competing. Canterbury Wheelchair Rugby was awarded the event, and this is a huge undertaking for the small regional organization to undertake. Luckily several of their committee members were on the organizing committee for the 2006 IWRF World Championships, and have vast experience in organizing both local and national events. This year’s event in Christchurch, New Zealand will see Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and Korea all competing. Although China will not be attending, the great news is that they have resumed playing, and will be looking at the next Zone Championship to compete again internationally. Elections will be held in conjunction with zonals, and details have been sent out to each country. The following updates are from some of the countries in our zone: AUSTRALIA The first round of the 2009 Telstra National Wheelchair Rugby League, was held in Adelaide, South Australia from 26-28 of June. This year there are two International imports competing on state teams. Troye Collins (GBR), has joined the newly named Jetstar Gold Coast Wheelchair Rugby Titans, and Jai Waite (NZL), has joined the South Australian Sharks. The first round of the competition brought some good level of rugby for a domestic competition. New South Wales Gladiators are once again the favorites for the championship this year, with athletes like Ryley Batt, Scott Vitale and Pete Allen on the roster. New South Wales Gladiators were unable to field their best team in Adelaide, yet they were still able to blow away the competition. There were also great performances by the Jetstar Gold Coast Wheelchair Rugby Titans, Victoria Coloplast Thunder, and the under strength South Australian Sharks. The West Coast Enforcers are a team full of young up and coming athletes, yet just don’t have the experience to compete with the big guns at the moment . State Programs Most states within Australia are having regular team training sessions, and those with the numbers are also holding local competitions. Earlier this year, National Program Head Coach, Brad Dubberley held state based training camps which were very informative. There were 57 athletes that attended these camps. The athletes ranged with regards to their level of experience, and it was great to see a number of new and talented athletes coming through. CHINA Chinese rugby has encountered a difficult year in 2009, due to the decrease of our total budget. On May 12, 2008, a terrible earthquake occurred in Sichuan Province which is believed to have the largest population in China. Nearly 70,000 people were killed, and countless others were injured or disabled. In the past 12 months, the government and entire country has been focused to help the people there to reconstruct and restore their lives back to normal.

At the highest administration level for affairs of people with disabilities, China Disabled Persons' Federation is playing a very important role in this huge nationwide project. In this case, most of the budget once marked for disabled sport has been transferred to Sichuan for rebuilding. However, the positive news is that some of the provincial teams have kept training such as Team Beijing, where most of our National team players come from. Although there won’t be any national or regional competitions occurring in China this year, we are still very confident to say that the sport will be keep active in the future. Furthermore, the 8th National Paralympic Games will be held in 2011, and wheelchair rugby will be part of this nation wide event. NEW ZEALAND With the domestic season now half way through, New Zealand’s one and only 'round-robin development tournament' is two thirds through after successful rounds held in Manawatu’s “Queens City” Palmerston North, and the Capital City Wellington. Teams seeded in the first round robin are now competing in a seeded round robin that was designed to have top-seeded teams playing in the final games in Christchurch on 25-26 July, with 'Auckland Blue' sneaking ahead after round 2 (on goal difference only). We have held our Low Point Nationals for 2009, from which our National Low Point team was selected and then attended the Montreal Low Pointers Tournament. Although the team did not achieve the results they strived so hard for, they certainly did not let themselves down. All players gained invaluable experience and they were exposed to the abilities of other international players with the same grading. It has raised some interesting questions regarding the variation in classification throughout the sport, which we are communicating with the national classifiers. Our Development team attended the Brisbane Bash, where they were not only able to play alongside players from Australia with international experience, but thanks to the organizers they were able to play together as a team also! SOUTH AFRICA Wheelchair Rugby South Africa developed three new clubs in the last six months; this however is just the tip of the iceberg as there are loads of disabled people in undeveloped and previously disadvantaged communities all over South Africa. During visits to schools for the disabled in one area, close to fifty potential athletes were discovered, all eligible to play Wheelchair Rugby. A shortage in equipment is a huge problem, and is the reason why these potential athletes would only have the opportunity to start playing Wheelchair Rugby by 2011. In our quest to solve this problem, Wheelchair Rugby South Africa has done applications to the National Lottery for funding, and also has been hard at work to find sponsors. Wheelchair Rugby South Africa has also been in negotiations with SA Rugby, our able body counterpart, pursuing a possible association with SA Rugby. This association might assist in solving our need for equipment and assist in the overall development of Wheelchair Rugby in South Africa. SA Rugby however will only be able to make a final decision on this matter during their AGM in April of 2010.

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The Forty Second Rule by Stan Battock, IWRF Technical Commissioner As mentioned in the previous issue, the implementation of the forty second rule would be reviewed in a later issue of the Wheelchair Rugby Press. The forty second rule appears to be working very well across all the zones. Feedback to Athlete Representative Ross Morrison has all been positive. Though as with any rule change, there are some questions and issues that arise from the interpretation of the rule. When does the Forty Second Clock start Stan Battock

Did You Know The IWRF Casebook, including all official interpretations can be downloaded from the File Library on the IWRF website

This is simple to understand for all players, coaches, spectators and the score-bench as the 40 second clock starts at the same time as the game clock. The only exception to this will be at the tip off at the start of the game and any extra periods. As a team does not have possession of the ball when the clock starts, the forty second clock cannot start until a team gains possession from the tip off. IE – After the tip off, the forty second clocks start when a player on the court gains control of the ball. In all other situations a team already has possession of the ball for a throw in from out of court, so the forty second clock starts at the same time as the game clock. When is the 40 second clock reset. It appears that the rule is well understood by all participants in the game. To put it simply, when the opposition gain possession of the ball, or when the defensive team causes a stoppage in play, the forty second clock will be reset.

If neither of these situations occur, then the forty second clock will not be reset. However, there will always be incidents in the game that are not covered by the rules – a power cut, liquid on the court, etc. In this situation where the referee stops the game because of incidents outside the rules, then the forty second clock will be reset to forty seconds. If you have questions about the forty second rule, visit the IWRF’s Global Rugby Talk forum for a clarification, or you can contact me directly at

Equipment Timeouts and Substitutions. The Technical Commission has been asked several times about substitutions during an equipment timeout. To simplify: An equipment timeout is not a time to effect substitutions. Therefore, neither team may substitute during an equipment timeout. The exception to this rule is when the player calling the Equipment Timeout has to be substituted, then both teams may substitute as many players as they desire. The Technical Commission has instructed the officials not to question why the player who calls the Equipment Timeout needs to be substituted – but to accept the request as legitimate and allow the substitution.

Ball Holders for players without a lap As we are all aware that a rule change has required all players who use a ball holder to rethink how they will build this into their chair. The Equipment Committee has received several requests to review various ball holders. One common request from the Equipment Committee is to take photos with and without the ball in the holder. But in all cases reviewed so far, the Committee has not be able to rule a holder as illegal under the new rules. What the committee has stressed though is that the referee is the final adjudicator on the legality of a chair, or in the case of sanctioned tournaments the Head Official, through the pre tournament chair check.

European Technical Commissioner By Stan Battock

Chris van der Riet Suter has decided to stand down from the role of European Zone technical Commissioner. Chris was almost press ganged into this role by her predecessor, but has done a brilliant job for the zone. In the time Chris has been in the role, we have seen the referees from this zone advance considerably to the point where they are now well regarded internationally.

Shown below are four ball holders that have been reviewed and approved by the IWRF Equipment Committee.

Section 4, Article 32 “Innovative changes that give a mechanical advantage or that do not conform to the presently accepted norms for a wheelchair, as detailed in the IWRF Rules, may not be made without prior approval from the IWRF. Such changes must be presented to and approved by the Technical Commission of the IWRF, in writing.”

Chris has also had strong input into the Technical Commission, and was involved in the production of the Casebook. More recently Chris has produced a draft of the referee mechanics manual, which we hope to finalize this year. Chris was also very involved in the referee selection process for Paralympics and World Championships, as well as selecting the referees for the European zone championships in consultation with the Technical Commission. I have really enjoyed working with Chris on the Technical Commission and will miss her input. However, I will be looking to retain her on some of the committees reporting to the Technical Commission. Most pleasing is that Chris is not retiring from Wheelchair Rugby just from the role of Technical Commissioner, so we will all get to see Chris around the court for a while longer yet! Thank you Chris for the fantastic work you have done over the last few years, it has been a pleasure working with you.

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News From the 2010 WWRC

The new website at will be operational shortly. In the meantime we are posting updates on Twitter@2010WWRC Hope you follow along!

The second test event for the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships (2010 WWRC) was the Coloplast Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Championships held May 7-10 at the Richmond Olympic Oval. It was yet another opportunity to test some of the Local Organizing Committee’s operations and to generate more excitement in the media for the Championships.

Beijing Paralympics. It is airing on national television in Canada in August. Plans are underway to present a screening during the WWRC.

A very important component of hosting the 2010 WWRC is the planned Schools Program, which will be introduced this fall. Vancouver-area school superintendents were very receptive to the idea when given a briefing recently, and are excited about implementing it into the curriculum for young students. Developed with the expertise of 2010 WWRC society president Laurel Crosby, the program will be a significant legacy of the Championships.

Above: Darin Hurnanen of the Canadian Nationals title sponsor Coloplast (and major sponsor of the 2010 WWRC) does the ceremonial tip-off at the Canadian Nationals at the Richmond Olympic Oval, site of the 2010 WWRC.

A lot of effort is being put into securing and finalizing sponsorships for the Championships. It is gratifying to discover that there is interest and support for the sport, and in particular for bringing the Championships to British Columbia.

Left: Artist Maxwell Newhouse uses the Canadian Championships as inspiration for a painting commissioned for the 2010 WWRC.

The Canadian Wheelchair Rugby team had the opportunity to screen an exciting new documentary that focuses on co-captain Ian Chan and the Canadian team’s preparations for the 2008

International Tournament Sees Paralympic Hopefuls Come to UK needed game-play to promising upcoming players. The Finnish played hard, but were tired from some previous day games. It was a credit to them on their performance, especially to Leevi Ylonen who was nominated MVP unanimously by teams. Final result was a convincing 54 to 43 win for Great Britain. So the final in the afternoon was Canada vs. Sweden, the Swedish weren’t going to go down without a fight, but couldn’t hold out losing 36 to Canada’s 60. Richard Allcroft, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Events Director, said: “This was the first truly international tournament organised by Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, and Sheffield proved itself again as a world class host to events. Teams went away with plenty of praise, and we hope to establish the GB Cup in the future”.

Great Britain Cup Final Results 1. Canada (CAN) 2. Sweden (SWE) 3. Great Britain (GBR) 4. Finland (FIN) Tournament MVP Leevi Ylonen - 3.0 (FIN)

Some of the world’s best wheelchair rugby teams competed in the inaugural “Great Britain Cup” August 14-16 in Sheffield, England. The new tournament saw top wheelchair rugby athletes lock horns at the English Institute of Sport (EIS). Paralympic Bronze medalists Canada were joined by Finland, Great Britain and Sweden in the three day, four team tournament.

Thanks as always must go to the people and sponsors involved. UK Sport, Sheffield City Council, Yorkshire South Tourism, EIS Sheffield and MLS. Also to Sheffield Community Transport and the Sheffield Copthorne Hotel. Final thanks to the volunteers and officials that made the weekend. Look out for wheelchair rugby – it’s coming to a town near you.

The first round saw some competitive games, and with great commentary and music to back them up, the atmosphere was set for a great weekend of sport. The last game of the morning on Saturday was played between Canada and Sweden (54-35), which secured Canada into a lead position. It was a true reflection of the close nature of the teams playing that had a three-way tie, which was decided on goal difference. One point was all that separated them. With the afternoon games decided, Sweden took on Finland (5654 in OT) and Great Britain played Canada (40-55). Sunday was finals day and teams were rested but tired. The music was cranked up and the teams came out fighting. GB was in the Bronze match game against Finland after a disappointing loss to Canada. GB started strong and played their bench giving much

IWRF Classification Panels for 2009 Zone Championships For more information on classification, including complete details on how to file a protest, please download the IWRF Classification Manual from the IWRF File Library

European Zone Championship - Hillerod, Denmark

Asia-Oceana Zone Championship - Christchurch, New Zealand

Chief Classifier, Sarah Leighton (GBR) Viola Altman (NED), Lotta Krossen (SWE), Emilie Newell (CAN) Paula Leppanen (FIN), Claire Tucak (AUS), Anna Nordhal (SWE)

Chief Classifier, Binnie O'Dwyer (NZL) Assistant Chief Classifier and Trainer, Greg Ungerer (AUS) Deborah Duffield (NZL), Kate Payern (SWE) Jacques Erasmus (RSA) Jennifer Stodler (CAN), Takashi Nakayama (JPN), Gerard Smith (AUS)

Americas Zone Championship - Buenos Aires, Argentina Chief Classifier, Doug Mazur (USA) Anne Hart (USA), Viola Altmann (NED), Emilie Newell (CAN) Paul Easton (CAN), Katie Bourke (AUS), Patricia Beckwith (ARG)

Type A classification panels will be used at all 3 zone championships. A “Type A” panel can award an IWRF sport class and sport class status (new, review or permanent) and conduct protests. This type of panel is used at the Paralympic Games, World Championships and Zone Championships.

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Maximus Tournament a Great Success “Maximus is a gladiator. Maximus competes and wins in his wheelchair. Maximus is extreme sport.” That was the opening statement of the second International Maximus Tournament held at ANDEF, Brazils Paralympic Training Center located in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro.

Maximus Promo Video CLICK HERE


Hosted by the Brazilian Wheelchair Rugby Association (ABRC), Maximus was held June 13-20, 2009, and was attended by teams from Argentina, Colombia, Great Britain, United States and Brazil. The organizers arranged for a Type B classification panel at the event, which was a great benefit for all the countries in preparation of the approaching zone championships. Clinics were also held for classifiers and referee’s, which helped strengthen and reinforce the skills of the participants from South America. Similar to the first Maximus tournament held in Bogotá, Colombia in 2008, the first two days were dedicated to classification and team training. Both GB and the US squads generously offered much of their time to run joint training sessions with their future opponents from South America. Sharing tips and demonstrating plays with newer players and coaches has become a tradition at Maximus tournaments, and is just one of the things that makes this event so much fun. Since only five countries were in attendance, a double round-robin format was used for the tournament. In the first round, most games were played with mixed squads made up from the two teams on the schedule. Days one and two were mostly lopsided games, but on day three things got a bit more serious. The first game of the day was between neighboring rivals Argentina and Brazil. Both teams had been smack talking each other all week, and now was time to let their play on the court have the final word. Brazil had the home court advantage, and started the game with a flurry of goals against their # 1 opponent. Argentina was caught off guard and was down by as many as seven points in the first quarter. After regaining their composure, they turned up their defense and slowly got back into the game. Both teams were plagued by turnovers and fouls throughout, but gained invaluable experience from the hard fought match. At the end of regulation, Brazil had fallen to their rival, 41-44. Next up was Great Britain vs. the United States. GB had brought along several rookies fairly new to the sport, as well as 4 Paralympians to serve as mentors. The US squad was made up of young players who had never competed internationally, most with less than 5 experience in the sport. US Coach Troy McGuirk met with GB Coach Tom O’Conner pre game, and invited him to play his big guns if he wanted.

20. KOREA 21. FRANCE 22. NORWAY 23. BRAZIL Developing Countries

• • • • • • •


McGuirk wanted to challenge his team, and GB’s mentors were happy to finally get some quality playing time. The Britts won the tip-off, and both squads quickly exhibited the speed and hard hits that make this game so great. The South American teams were lined up on the sidelines, cheering for players from both teams

who they had recently befriended. Everyone seemed to get quality playing time on both sides, but in the end it was Great Britain who earned the victory, 56-43. The Maximus tournament has a special camaraderie all to its own. Colombia went through the week without a win, yet had the support and mentoring of every person who was there. Never deterred by the score on the clock, all of their players worked hard for every point and every minute that they were in a game. With time a victory will be earned for Colombia, and when it comes it will be celebrated by the entire Maximus family. The final day of competition seemed to come too fast. Six days earlier everyone had just arrived, and now it was almost time to go back home. Before that could happen there were still four games of rugby to play, one of which was of special interest to the host team and tournament organizers. The first two games were mixed matches, and didn’t count towards final standings. The last two games were played in the evening so that locals could come watch, which they did. First up was Great Britain against the United States, in what ended up being a tournament winning blowout for the Britts. As hard as the US squad tried, they couldn’t keep pace with the experienced GB players and lost 57-28. US coach McGuirk stated afterwards, “I am incredibly proud of this young team, and the experience we had here was fantastic. Given the opportunity we will definitely come to Maximus again.” The final game of Maximus had the feel of a championship. The stands were filled with fans who were ready to watch some rugby. Brazil needed to win the game by 4 points to take third, and Argentina knew this. It was clear from the tipoff that this game was going to be a war, and taking prisoners wasn’t an option. As each quarter passed, the lead was traded back and forth. At the start of the last period it looked like Brazil might make the point spread and win the game. As the clock ticked away the final 90 seconds, Argentina forced Brazil to give up the ball and brought the game to a tie. Everyone was thinking overtime, but Brazil had other plans and went on to win in regulation, 48-46. While the victory wasn’t enough to win Brazil a medal, it was a great game for the home team and their fans. Congratulations to all of the teams that competed at Maximus. There are many people to thank for Maximus’s success, especially the volunteers, classifiers, referees and tournament staff. Your time and enormous efforts made for an amazing experience! Special recognition is extended to Mr. Luiz Claudio Pereira, Vice President of Brazilian Paralympic Committee, for their tremendous support of wheelchair rugby. Sincere thanks to Matias and Karina Costa for organizing Maximus MMIX so well. There is a rumor that Maximus MMX may be in Miami next year, and if this is true they will have to work extra hard to match the high standards that were set in Brazil. See next page for pictures from Maximus

Global Rugby Calendar

Colombia Greece Hungary India Mexico New Caledonia

Ostrava Cup - September 25-27, 2009 Ostrava, Czech Republic Event Contact - David Lukes Official Website -

Rugbymania 2009 - November 20-22, 2009 Nymburk, Czech Republic Event Contact - David Lukes Official Website -

IWRF European Zone Championship - October 11-18, 2009 Hillerod, Denmark Event Contact - Mette Holstein Official Website -

North America Cup - June 11-13, 2010 Birmingham, Alabama, USA Event Contact - Patty Cornelius Official Website -

IWRF America's Zone Championship - Oct. 26- Nov. 1, 2009 Buenos Aires, Argentina Event Contact - Juan Foa Official Website -

Canada Cup - June 18-20, 2010 Montréal, Canada Event Contact - Patrick Côté Official Website -

IWRF Asia-Oceana Zone Championship - Nov. 2-9, 2009 Christchurch, New Zealand Event Contact - Bill Oughton Official Website -

2010 IWRF World Championships - Sept. 16-25, 2010 Vancouver, Canada Event Contact - Gail Hamamoto Official Website -

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Wheelchair Rugby Clinic Held in Mexico City by Gabe Nyrkkanen

“25 quads attended the clinic from Mexico City and surrounding areas, and had varying levels of experience from beginner to novice”

During the weekend of July 9-12, a group of United States Quad Rugby Association representatives headed to Mexico City to put on a wheelchair rugby training camp. The group included athletes Sam Gloor (2.0), Seth McBride (2.0), and Jeff Odom (3.0), Referee Andy Miller, Classifier Katie Milner, and PT student Jayece Olson. The experienced team was led by IWRF Americas Zone President, Dan McCauley and player - interpreter, Gabe Nyrkkanen (0.5). The team was invited to Mexico City to provide instruction for Mexico's National wheelchair rugby program. Santiago Duarte, quad rugby player and President of Vida Independiente, organized the event. Camp was hosted at the Paralympic Training Center, and was conducted over four days. The goal of the camp was to continue developing the sport of rugby in Mexico, as well as to prepare the players who attended for future competitions. The camp included a Referee’s clinic led by Andy Miller, as well as a Classifier's clinic led by Katie Milner and Jayece Olson. The group that participated in the referee’s and classifier's clinics included 17 local individuals who were physical or occupational therapy students, along with other professionals and volunteers. 25 quads attended the clinic from Mexico City and surrounding areas, and had varying levels of experience from beginner to novice.

After the first day of training, the group was divided into separate training sessions which included a basic skills course for recreational level players and an advanced course for players with potential to compete on the national team. The camp concluded on Sunday with the group splitting in two teams for a full on competition. Special thanks goes out to the following: Santiago Duarte for hosting the National Wheelchair Rugby Camp; The Mexican Paralympic Federation and Paralympic Training Center for providing the facilities; The representatives from the United States who provided instruction; All of the volunteers in Mexico City who provided transportation and assistance; And to each of the participants who received instruction during the training camp. Additional thanks go out to individuals who donated rugby chairs to the Mexico rugby program: Dan McCauley, Mark Hansen, Sean Brady, Brad Smith and Travis Murao. Also, thank you Tom Vesco and the staff at Vesco Metal Craft who donated their time and efforts for this event.

Memories from Maximus Brazil


The Wheelchair Rugby Press Page 8

In Loving Tribute to the Late Anbritt Olsson The International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) would like to offer its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Anbritt Olsson, who passed away 4 May, 2009 following a short fight against esophageal and liver cancer. Anbritt had been a senior classifier for IWRF for many years. An outstanding contributor to both Wheelchair Rugby and the Paralympic Movement, Anbritt had a long history with sport for persons with disabilities both in her home nation Sweden and internationally. Anbritt was a leader in sport for persons with a disability and also a well-respected and expert physiotherapist in Sweden.

“Rumor has it that

Anbritt was involved in the disappearance of a refrigerator stored after the Athens Olympic Games in a basement in the Paralympic Village that mysteriously reappeared in the IWRF classifiers’ apartment. ”

Anbritt’s diverse background in sport for persons with disabilities included physiotherapist to many Swedish Paralympic Teams, classification and sport governance roles. She was involved in a number of sports in Sweden as a classifier, including wheelchair rugby, swimming and equestrian. She contributed to the development of wheelchair rugby in Sweden from the beginning. In 1993, Anbritt attended the Stoke Mandeville Games as a classifier for swimming and decided to attend one of the first classification training workshops for wheelchair rugby in Europe. She soon became the head classifier in Sweden, and was also the head classifier in the European Zone for a number of years. Over her long history, Anbritt served as a wheelchair rugby classifier at countless competitions around the world. She was selected as a classifier for the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, the first for wheelchair rugby as a medal sport. However, she was unable to attend because of the impending birth of her daughter Lina. Anbritt classified at the 2002 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden and the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. She also attended the 2007 Torino Winter Paralympic Games in Italy and the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games in China as a physiotherapist for Team Sweden. Anbritt was very engaged in classification for wheelchair rugby. She worked on testing, refining and writing classification procedures so that the rugby classification system would be better and as fair as possible for all athletes. Anbritt was always firm, fair, and honest. She was always professional and treated everyone with respect, especially in situations where she had to tell “tough truths”. In addition to being a remarkable classifier, Anbritt was also instrumental in the education and training of many classifiers in wheelchair rugby. Several IWRF classifiers got their start in classification because of Anbritt, and many classifiers active today were fortu-

2004 Paralympics in Athens. Anbritt at work – L to R – Viola Altmann, NED, Caroline Rule, RSA, Anbritt Olsson, SWE and Deborah Duffield, NZL

nate to learn from her. One of Anbritt’s most valuable lessons was that once you have made a decision, stick to it and trust your instinct, an invaluable lesson for classifying and in other areas of life as well. Anbritt was known to be a bit rebellious from time to time, particularly when there were stresses that needed to be reduced and fun to be had. Rumor has it that she was involved in the disappearance of a refrigerator stored after the Athens Olympic Games in a basement in the Paralympic Village that mysteriously reappeared in the IWRF classifiers’ apartment. Even more celebrated was when she managed to get herself and other IWRF rugby classifiers into the IPC opening ceremony party despite a lack of proper accreditation. Anbritt was our hero in many ways. For example, she saved the life of one of her fellow classifiers during an event in South African in 2005. While crossing a busy street on the way to the venue, and unaware of the different traffic patterns in South Africa, one of the European classifiers stepped out into heavy traffic. Anbritt quickly and powerfully pulled her back, perhaps saving her life. She loved working with all of her friends in wheelchair rugby and felt so fortunate to combine her passions for work, wheelchair rugby and traveling the world. She especially enjoyed meeting and working with new friends. Anbritt was very grateful for all the support she received from her IWRF classifier family during her brief fight against cancer. Anbritt was a respected member of the IWRF and the Paralympic Family and her long history was a testament to her sense of adventure, generosity and passion for sport and life. Anbritt meant so much to so many, as a physiotherapist, a classifier and as a friend. Her death is a great loss to so many of us and we will miss her very much. Her partner Håkan, daughter Lina, a brother and her parents survive her.

Stoke Mandeville 1993. Anbritt Olson, kneeling in front row on right. Also in photo, top row L to R Emilie Newell, CAN (active IWRF classifier), Claire Trask, GBR (active IWRF classifier), Anne Marie Glenn, USA (deceased, co-founder of IWRF classification system), Denise Anderson, USA, Diane Bulger Tsapos, USA (co-founder of IWRF classification system) and on far R, Giggi Josephson, SWE.

Wheelchair Rugby Press - August 2009  

Quarterly newsletter published by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF). Content includes global news articles, photographs,...