Parafed support helps Steamrollers raise game

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The BOP Steamrollers wheelchair rugby team.
The BOP Steamrollers wheelchair rugby team.

If you ask anyone in the know they will tell you that there is nothing soft about wheelchair rugby.

Not only is it a fast, strategic and fiercely competitive contact sport, it's also seriously good fun.

For me, a relative newbie to life on wheels, it connects me to a cool community of wheelies brought together not just by disability, but by our love of this amazing sport. Veterans discuss how a commitment to rugby is transformative, it gets us out of our comfort zone and pushes us to be better.

The Bay of Plenty Steamrollers and seven teams from around the country descended on Christchurch on May 21-22 to play in the first round of the Regional Wheelchair Rugby competition.

Supported primarily by volunteers, it's a big commitment and cost to get players to tournaments. However, this year, with Parafed Bay of Plenty's support, six Steamrollers and three support crew were able to attend.

The Steamrollers played four intense 40-minute games across the weekend. We had our first ever win in an official game against Wellington by only two points. We were no match for the current New Zealand top team Canterbury but Hawke's Bay and Manawatu had to work a lot harder to get past us.

Given the team's humble beginnings, this result is something to be proud of, says coach Neil Cudby. "There were moments of brilliance, where the team gelled and played some really good rugby, shutting down the plays of some of the more experienced sides," he said.

Prior to the second part of the regional competition in Wellington (July 22-23) the team is training twice a week, working on strategies around individual roles and effective transitions between offensive and defensive plays.

For anyone keen on watching or jumping into a chair, the Steamrollers play on Mondays at the Queen Elizabeth Centre from 7.30pm to 9pm.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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