Victoria wins first wheelchair rugby classic title at Cobram

By Cobram Courier

Cobram sports stadium was no place for the faint hearted on the weekend where wheelchair rugby ruled and high calibre athletes went head-to-head in the state versus state event.

In its first year, the Wheelchair Rugby Country Classic boasted some strong competition, with 21 players from Victoria, NSW and Queensland, including eight Paralympic Australian Steelers, took to the court at Cobram stadium.

Hosted by Wheelchair Sports NSW, in partnership with Cobram-Barooga Business and Tourism, the event combined to showcase a action sport as well as introduce Cobram as a must return destination to those who have not visited before.

Wheelchair Sports NSW is responsible for the development, promotion and delivery of wheelchair sport in the NSW region.

Stadium customer service officer Heidi French worked with the event and organisers and was impressed with the athleticism and sportsmanship among players.

‘‘These players were not holding back they have blockers whose role it is to literally stop the opposition in their tracks and sometimes when players went over there would be no shortage of players to help them back up, they would be all smiles,’’ she said.

Speaking with the visiting players, French believed those visiting Cobram for the first time were impressed with the town.

‘‘During the breaks in competition the players had the opportunity to grab lunch in town and they came back raving about the places to eat in town,’’ she said.

The cheers from the crowd were loud as the crash of wheelchair on wheelchair bore witness to the intensity of the game, with each player doing their best to get the ball but to maintain possession.

Local sports coach and regular at the stadium Adam Gatcum had the chance to watch the action.

‘‘We were very lucky to have these elite sportspeople, including a number of paralympians, visiting Cobram,’’ he said.

There was quite literally no quarter given or taken.

‘‘I am particularly impressed with how they have embraced their situation and not allowed it to limit their sports careers representing Australia; I think we could all learn something from these wonderful athletes.

‘‘I think the action would have been a real eye-opener to those in the crowd who had not seen wheelchair rugby before.’’

NSW took on Victoria in the final on Sunday with and Victoria winning 54-46 in a tough fourth quarter.