Wheelchair rugby -- or 'Murderball' -- starts at the Paralympics today. Here's what to expect

This one’s not for the faint of heart.

YouTube Credit: irb

IT’S BRUTAL, IT’S intense and it’s set to be one of the most-talked about sports over the closing days of the 2012 Paralympics.

The mixed wheelchair rugby tournament begins in the Basketball Arena this afternoon when hosts Team GB take on Beijing gold medallists USA at 2pm.

Popularised by the 2005 documentary Murderball (one of the sport’s original names), wheelchair rugby is played by quadriplegic athletes who have a disability affecting both their arms and their legs.

The game is played over four eight-minute quarters with four players of varying disability on court at any one time.

To score, players must carry the ball and both wheels of their chair must cross their opponents’ goal line. Similar to basketball, there is a shot clock with each team having 40 seconds to score from the time they gain possession of the ball.

As for contact, well, that’s encouraged — so a long as it is only contact between the chairs. No physical contact is allowed.

There are a couple of more technical rules but those are the basics that you’ll need to enjoy the sport over the next few days. Eight teams (not including Ireland, unfortunately) compete in the pool stages  from Wednesday until Friday with semi-finals on Saturday and the gold medal match on Sunday.

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