The 2015 World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge turned out to be a magnificent, murderous clash, reports London correspondent Heather Pansegrouw.
Twenty international teams competed in England’s IRB Rugby World Cup 2015, which ran for six weeks (18 September to 31 October) as the players needed seven days of rest and relaxation between games.
Eight international teams competed in the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in London. It ran for five days (12 October to 16 October), as the players scorned rest and relaxation, sometimes playing two games per day!
It used to be called Murderball and with good reason. Players attack and annihilate the mighty steeds of their opponents, slamming and smashing into each other. Wheelchair basketball is tame by comparison. Team Captain Clyde Holland remembers being hit so hard during a New Zealand match that the smash-o-meter struck 5.04Gs, sending him tumbling and making him exclaim, “Man that was hard! I love it!”
Road to London 2015
South Africa Wheelchair Rugby was invited to compete at the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge to coincide with the Springboks playing at the IRB World Cup. As wheelchair rugby is still developing in South Africa we are ranked 17th in the world rankings, and were the only non-Paralympic team in a pool that included USA, Canada and New Zealand’s Wheel Blacks, ranked 3rd, 2nd and 9th respectively. If we were going to hold our heads high, we needed to improve our game plan development and implementation, and so we called on the services of Australia’s 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Head Coach, Terry Vinyard, as Technical Advisor.
Training camps helped guide team selection and in March 2015 the team was announced: Jared McIntyre, Yolande Oosthuysen, Vic Buitendag, Koos Jacobs, Bennie Erasmus, Musa Simelane, Okker Anker, Lisa-Ann Kirkland, Clyde Holland and Bennie Dorfling. Ours was the only team to bring two female players to the tournament. It was a clever move, as the maximum points allowed on the court are increased (from 8) by 0.5 for every female player. The athletes trained hard. They were monitored weekly and their training schedules tweaked to help them peak at the right time.
National teams should compete in at least three international tournaments a year, improving their world rankings and experience. The SA team’s lack of funding and international exposure was evident as our valiant warriors took on the world’s best, losing every match but still carrying the ball over the line no less than 68 times in three games.
Coach and player Vic Buitendag started playing on his third day out of rehab, 12 years ago, and believes he has never been fitter. He is also keen to pass on his new-found experience to other players once he gets back home.
Think you have what it takes for Murderball?? Contact Clyde Holland on +27-82-804-5391 or email email@example.com. For more info, visit www. sawcr.co.za