Representatives from the International Rugby Board were in attendance to witness a gripping London Prepares Wheelchair Rugby test event at the Olympic Park on Wednesday.
Four of the world's top teams are going head over the next two days, with Australia, Canada, Sweden and hosts Great Britain looking to gain the psychological edge in what is one of only two events left on the calendar before the Paralympic Games.
Wheelchair Rugby is one of the hottest tickets at September’s Paralympic Games in London, where the world’s best teams will compete for the greatest prize in the sport.
Designed as a training opportunity for the staff and technical officials who will work at the Wheelchair Rugby competition during the Games, the event aims to formally introduce new fans to the fast-paced and hard-hitting action of the sport.
In a thrilling opening match, Great Britain defeated higher ranked Sweden 48-36 to send out a strong message ahead of the Paralympics. Skill, physicality, speed and tactical nous saw them home in front of a vociferous crowd.
In the second match of the morning session, Australia dominated the third quarter against Canada to record a 56-52 victory that will position them as one of the firm favourites for the Paralympic title.
Acting IRB Chief Executive Robert Brophy was amongst the delegates in attendance to support the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) as part of the ongoing partnership between the two sports.
“The standard of competition, physicality, skill and sheer competitiveness was extremely impressive,” said Brophy. “I can totally understand why Wheelchair Rugby is one of the hottest tickets at the Paralympic Games.”
“We hugely value the strong partnership that we have with the IWRF to share knowledge and experience for the ongoing development of both global governing Federations.”
Since the agreement was sealed in 2010, the Federations have shared resources and information in respect to player welfare, created communications alliances and exchanged training and education resources.
This year, the IRB assisted with the development of the IWRF’s official website, www.iwrf.com, which is the platform to reach out to new fans and players and deliver all the latest news, resources and information on the hugely popular sport.
“The IRB has provided us with great support behind the scenes for the past three years,” said IWRF President John Bishop. “Our new website will provide our members with a fantastic new resource, and the world with a picture of how valuable that support has been.”
Six of the eight matches over the two days will be streamed live, click here for more information.