Wheelchair Rugby League: what are the rules? Number of players per side, conversions and tackles explained

Number of players per team, points scoring and pitch size information. How ‘kicks’ and tackles work as Rugby League World Cup 2021 continues.

Wheelchair Rugby League has proved to be the breakout star of the live coverage from the 2021 Rugby League World Cup this month with viewers fixated on the hard hitting action.

This year’s event is the fourth edition of the tournament, which began in 2008, and is the second time the action is being held in England after the 2013 competition. The hosts have twice been runners-up and won the inaugural event while Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all also featured in previous years. For viewers just getting into the sport for the first time, here is a quick breakdown of some of the key rules and stipulations as well as everything you need to know about how to watch the action:

How many players make up a wheelchair rugby league side and how long is a match?

In a wheelchair rugby league match, each side may have five players on the field of play at any one time. Just like the running version of the sport, matches are played over two 40 minute halves. The pitch that the match is played on is 40m long by 20m wide.

What are the rules for wheelchair rugby league? Scoring, conversions and tackles explained

Tries in a wheelchair rugby league match are worth four points and are scored by touching the ball down over the goal line or, in the case of players with limited mobility, tapping the ball on the wheel of their chair. Conversions or penalties are worth two points while a drop goal is worth one point. Kicks are made by punching the ball, using the fist.

Teams are allowed six tackles, before having to hand over possession. Each player wears two tags, one on each shoulder. A tackle is made when a defender removes a tag from the ball carrier’s shoulder. Tags must be replaced, using spares carried on each player’s knees, before an attacker can play-the-ball.

How to watch Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup on TV

The BBC are broadcasting the action from the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, including the wheelchair rugby league, live for the duration of the tournament. Matches are featured across the channels and online. All the action can also be streamed on the BBC Iplayer website or BBC Iplayer app, which is available to download from most mainstream app stores, but a TV licence is required to watch live broadcasts.

Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup fixtures

The 2021 edition of the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup has reached the semi-final stages and the line-up is now set after a thrilling group stage. The winners from Group A will take on the runner-up in Group B and vice-versa in the matches to determine which sides will meet in the final. England topped Group A with Australia going through as runners-up meaning Spain and Ireland missed out while France topped Group B and Wales went through in second ahead of Scotland and the United States.

Here is the semi-final line up for the 2021 Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup:

  • France vs Australia - Sunday, November 13 (12:00 GMT)
  • England vs Wales - Sunday, November 13 (14:30 GMT)

Both semi-finals will be played at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield while the final, which takes place on November 18, will be played at the Manchester Central Convention Complex.