A new kind of rugby game, that levels the playing field for those disabled in their lower bodies, takes off in Tokyo. Sharon Reich reports.
Caterpillar rugby: a disabled-friendly sport
It looks a little strange at first, but this alternative form of rugby can be played by anyone, including people who are disabled in their lower bodies.
It’s called caterpillar rugby and is taking off in Japan. Creator Tomohiro Sawada explains that participants use only their arms, which levels the playing field.
SOUNDBITE: Tomohiro Sawada, creator of Caterpillar Rugby and head of Yuru sports organization saying (Japanese):
“I have many friends who are in wheelchairs, or have an artificial leg. I wanted to create a sport that they could excel in. Many of them are well-built due to the physical exertions they go through in their everyday lives. We’ve tried caterpillar rugby a few times, and they were so much stronger than people like me.”
The rules are similar to a rugby, except that there are only five players on each team and the field is a square area that is half the size of a basketball court.
All players use a yellow and green tube-like suit to move, which prevents bruising and gives everyone the same handicap.
SOUNDBITE: Daisuke Uehara, a 33-year-old participant in a wheelchair, saying (Japanese):
“Even if someone told me to stand up and run, I wouldn’t be able to. This sport allows people like me to be on the same level as others, and enjoy the same sport. This is a sport for everyone.”
SOUNDBITE: Daisuke Uehara, 32-year old Sachiko Goto, saying (Japanese):
“The conditions for playing are equal and fair. I thought it was great that everyone could have fun together.”
Fun … and an excuse to put on the cool suit! Count us in …