November 7, 2003
Mississippi's only quad rugby team kicked off its season in Kentucky
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
LOUISIVILLE, Ky.—Quad rugby is sometimes called “murder ball” and members of the Jackson Jags quad rugby team say the game really lived up to its nickname during their first tournament of the season.
“You could definitely call it murder. The guys were exhausted,” said Ginny Boydston, coach and therapeutic recreation director at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. “They went into this tournament without any subs and they worked so hard—200 percent.”
The team, sponsored by Methodist Rehab and the Mississippi Paralysis Association, finished fifth in the 2nd Annual Louisville Slugfest held last weekend in Kentucky. Results of the tournament were posted on the U.S. Quad Rugby Association Web site.
The Jackson Jags won two games and lost two games in the two-day tournament. Boydston said it was great effort on the part of the four players, because they all had to play every minute of every game.
“I am so proud of their performance,” she said. “Even when they had no energy they really pushed it to the limit.”
Developed in the 1970s by Canadian quadriplegics, quad rugby has been a hit in Jackson since the team was formed in 1997.
Players use specially designed wheelchairs to take the rugby ball down a basketball court and across the goal line. Contact between chairs is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.
Mike Blackburn of Newton, team captain, has been on the team since its inception. Blackburn said it was tiring, especially the two games they played back to back, but it was fun. He said the tournaments provide more than an opportunity to play. They offer a setting many quadriplegics don’t often find themselves in—surrounded by people in wheelchairs.
“You get to meet quads with all different injury levels, so you learn so much about how other people do different things,” Blackburn said. “You are in a room with 100 guys with that one thing in common.”
As for the game’s nickname, murder ball, it really isn’t as bad at it sounds, he said.
“Really the chairs take most of the beating. If you sit and watch and listen to it, you would think we are trying to kill each other. It makes a lot of noise,” Blackburn said. “But the chairs are designed to take 75 percent of the jolt when somebody runs into you. They don’t take all of it. You know when you’ve been hit.”
It’s a rough sport, and if it gets too rough, players have to spend time in the penalty box, just like in hockey, he said.
Boydston said the games are rewarding because it brings everything they learn in practice to fruition. “We always learn a lot at the tournaments. You practice for months and months and then you start seeing those plays come together on the court. And you learn a lot from watching the other teams play.”
Other members of the team are; Wiley Clark of Moss Point, Richard Nagle of New Orleans, Peter Benoit of New Orleans, equipment manager Randy Lavender of Tupelo and Nate McCoy, Methodist therapeutic recreation specialist.
For more information:
Jackson Jags place in quad rugby tourney | The Clarion-Ledger