France coach raises wheelchair rugby league concerns ahead of World Cup final

Josh McAllister
Wheelchair rugby league. PA Images.

England's Jack Brown scores a try during the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup semi-final match. Richard Sellers/PA Wire/PA Images

France head coach Sylvain Crismanovich has shared his concerns of the impact non-disabled players are having on wheelchair rugby league ahead of his side’s World Cup final against England. 

The sport has had its profile boosted during the current World Cup, with all games so far having been broadcast live on the BBC.

Teams are able to include two non-disabled players in their 10-strong squads, which has seen the likes of England’s Jack Brown stand-out on the international stage. He has scored 15 tries so far this campaign, and plays alongside young brother Harry, who lost both legs to meningitis as a baby.

Speaking at the finals media day at Manchester Central, Crismanovich believes officials should re-visit the original rules to help balance out the sport.

Violent collisions was one of the major concerns for the France coach, with his side set to face England in the final at Manchester Central on Friday night.

France wheelchair rugby league coach raises non-disabled players concerns

“On the plus side, the World Cup has been a great spectacle and allowed a lot of people to discover the sport and admire the athletes taking part,” he told Love Rugby League.

“But I think we’ve got to be aware of the fact that there’s been some very violent collisions as well.

“There’s an element of the tournament that’s almost been focused on able-bodied play and there is an element that we shouldn’t be really utilising the same force when we’ve got disabled athletes taking part in the sport.

“My concern is that tomorrow night, if a disabled person – in particular a paraplegic wheelchair user – comes along, they might say it’s not a sport for them given the violence and some of the collisions that they will witness.

“We need to look back at some of the original rules of the game, because when the game was founded it was for disabled athletes and able-bodied athletes were invited to join in.

“Now the sport is so popular there are a lot more able-bodied people taking part and it’s obviously impacted on the way the game is played.”

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