South East Wales

Wheelchair rugby: GB Cup tips off in Cardiff ahead of Paralympics

Wheelchair rugby teams from across the world are in Cardiff for a three-day event in preparation for the London 2012 Paralympics.

Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Belgium and Sweden will contest the GB Cup at the Sport Wales National Centre.

Institute manager Brian Davies said the tournament would allow the Great Britain team to prepare for "the biggest event in their sporting lives."

"It's quite a fast, helter skelter, noisy sport," he said.

A fusion of ice hockey, handball and rugby, wheelchair rugby was founded in Canada in 1977 and is described by Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) as a combination of brute force and tactical strategy.

Eight rolling substitutes make up squads of 12, with four players on court per team at any time.

The aim is to cross your opponents' goal line with two wheels in contact with the hardwood floor and the ball in your hands.

Players in possession have to bounce the ball or pass with within 10 seconds of receiving it.

"This is the first time Wales has held the GB Cup," said Mr Davies. "It will be a great opportunity for the Welsh public to see one of the must-see sports for London 2012.

"It used to be called 'Murderball' when it was first invented in 1970 but they quickly changed the name."

GBWR chief executive, David Pond, said the GB squad was progressing well towards the Paralympics.

Playing in the tournament against world number two Australia and number three Japan would be "a fantastic challenge" for the British players, he added.

"Wheelchair rugby is the most exciting of the paralympic sports as physical contact between wheelchairs is permitted and forms a major part of the game," said Mr Pond.

GB squad member Myles Pearson, 18, is the youngest player in the tournament. He described the sport as "fast and aggressive".

"It's very technical and tactical as well," he said. "It's everything that a sport should be."

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