Halifax Panthers Wheelchair Rugby League Club is an integral part of the Halifax Rugby League family. Current Betfred Wheelchair Super League champions, the Panthers are a force to be reckoned with in wheelchair sport.
As well as being one of wheelchair sport’s most successful teams, the club also has close links with the community in Calderdale.
For the first team, the last ten years have seen a number of successes, including a league championship, three wins in Grand Finals, three Challenge Cup victories and a European Championship. Twice they have done the Grand-final, Challenge Cup double.
The team’s home is the Inspire Centre at Calderdale College, close to the town centre. Here the team plays its main fixtures and holds its regular training sessions.
Halifax Wheelchair Rugby League Club’s roots go back to 2005, when the club was set up. With strong ties to the Calderdale Community Coaching Trust (CCCT), as well as its first team responsibilities, the club acts as an inspirational vehicle for disability sport and disability awareness in the area.
It’s fair to say that Halifax Wheelchair Rugby League is first and foremost a community club, run by local volunteers, played by people from the local area and open to everyone. During the season, which normally runs from April to September when it is largely focussed on training and matches, and international fixtures whilst the emphasis moves towards community tie-ups during the closed season.
Local schools are an important part of Halifax Wheelchair Rugby League’s development strategy, with the club’s qualified coaches running sessions for young people within school time. It is in schools that the club has been able to have a big impact on disability awareness, bringing together children, with and without disabilities, to play a sport which they can enjoy and benefit from, whilst playing together.
The sport of Wheelchair Rugby League remains faithful to the sport of rugby league but obviously the use of wheelchairs means that there are some changes to the rules of the game.
The playing area is a hard surface or court, such as a sports hall, ideally 18-22 metres wide and 40-45 metres long, whilst the ball is a standard size 4 rugby league ball, slightly deflated. Each team should consist of 5 players and up to 5 substitutes.
The standard 10 metre measurement in rugby league such as 10 metre lines, 20 metre restarts and such are replaced by units of 4 metres.
There are no scrums in WRL, they are replaced by a tap restart and all kicking is done by hand, utilizing the top of a closed fist, with contact being made by the area around the thumb and forefinger.
Points are awarded as per rugby league, with conversions / penalty goals being taken from an extended kicking tee, which must be no higher than the wheel of the kicker.
The wheelchairs used are highly specialised, light in weight and extremely robust. Wheelchair Rugby League whilst a game of evasion is also physical and the players train hard to improve their speed, strength and ball skills.
But, above all else, Wheelchair Rugby League is great fun and highly accessible – come along and watch or give the sport a try!
To find out more visit the teams dedicated website: https://halifaxwheelchairrugbyleague.org/