IT was ‘murder’ on the ball court when a paralympic rugby squad arrived in Leeds.
For the past week the Canadian Paralympic Rugby squad – who featured in the 2005 Academy Award nominated documentary Murderball – have been training at the University of Leeds.
They have been using state of the art facilities there in preparation for the August Paralympic Games in London.
High intensity wheelchair rugby, or ‘murderball’, games are notorious for their fierce rivalries where teams give no quarter.
Andy Van Neutegem, Canadian high performance director, said the sport is not for the faint hearted.
“None of these guys broke their necks going to the library,” he said.
“They all either used to play ice hockey, or snowboard or some other adrenaline sport.
“Players can ride into each other as hard as they want. Head and shoulder injuries are common.”
He added that the team were full-time world class athletes who were expected to go the distance at the August games.
Mr Neutegem said: “We have the most exciting team in the game. Nothing less than gold will do.”
After the success of Murderball, the sport became one of the most popular at the Paralympic Games.
Team co-captain Dave Willsie, 44, started playing wheelchair rugby after breaking his neck in an ice hockey game 15 years ago.
He said: “I was hesitant to try it at first but now I love it.
“As it gets towards game time my adrenaline gets going. I remind myself of all the hard work I’ve put in and when the game gets going it’s an amazing feeling.”
Matt Davison, Olympic project manager at the University of Leeds, said: “It’s a real honour to have them here. It’s a great sport and they’re a great team.”