September 30, 2002
Quad rugby comes to Hattiesburg: Physically challenged athletes practice, showcase exciting sport
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
HATTIESBURG, Miss.--Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s quad rugby team will practice at the Family YMCA in Hattiesburg on Tuesday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Jackson hospital’s team is on the move around Mississippi showcasing the exciting sport and recruiting new athletes.
Physically challenged athletes from all over Mississippi and Louisiana are players on the Jackson Jags team. Besides recruiting new players, the Jags also hope to show the public that people with disabilities can lead active, healthy lives and play in a variety of sports—including a high-impact sport like rugby.
Now in their fifth year, the Jags have earned a name for themselves in rugby, but it hasn’t come easy. This past spring, for the first time, a Jags member was awarded all-tournament honors at the Unites States Quad Rugby regional tournament.
Quad rugby has been around since the 1970s when Canadian quadriplegics were seeking a sport that they could call their own. The game is played on a basketball court with goal lines marked on the ends. Players may pass the ball and have to dribble every 10 seconds. The rules only allow for a mixture of seriously disabled and moderately disabled players. A typical lineup might consist of one seriously disabled player, one player with a less serious injury and two players of moderate disability.
Teams of four use strategy and skill to try and maneuver their wheelchairs past their opponents and carry the rugby across the goal line. It’s very intense. The sports’ Canadian inventors dubbed it “murderball.”
“The hits are brutal,” said Jags Captain Mike Blackburn of Newton. “It’s a really demanding sport with all the contact going on and trying to keep up with who’s got the ball, but it’s a whole lot of fun. I wouldn’t be working out as much as I am if it weren’t for rugby and tennis.”
Winning games and competing against other teams is important, but it’s not what makes quad rugby special, said Ginny Boydston, who is also the director of therapeutic recreation at Methodist Rehab.
“Rugby is about winning your own battles as much as it is about winning out on the court,” she said. “After their injury, a lot of quads have a hard time adjusting and some even feel like their lives are over. But they’re not.
“All of our guys on the team have their own story and all of them have had to overcome a lot to get to this point. Rugby helps. It gives them discipline, teaches them to be independent and makes them more self-confident. Most of the guys didn’t play sports before their injury so here they are in the middle of their lives learning how to work together. It’s great for them,” Boydston added.
For more information:
Quad rugby about 'winning own battles' | The Clarion-Ledger