Shute Shield Wheelchair Rugby Exhibition Tournament

On Monday night, nine Eastern Suburbs players and coaches took part in the first ever Shute Shield wheelchair rugby exhibition tournament as part of the Wheelchair Rugby World Championships. The tournament consisted of three round robin matches against Parramatta, Eastwood and Southern Districts - each game a gruelling 15 minutes long! Having never participated in wheelchair rugby, the entire Easts team underwent an intense induction by members of Wheelchair Sport NSW. After we had completed some basic training, it was time to put ourselves to the test. The first game didn’t go to plan, Parramatta had taken a different approach to their preparation and fatigue finally got the better of the eager Beasts team with Parramatta taking the points. We were up again straight away against a well-rested Eastwood team and after a brief fight back the Woodies edged us out, but at least this was a far better performance. After a pep-talk and a game of indoor soccer to prepare, we finally had a plan to beat Southern Districts. The plan consisted of giving Jack Nettleton, Holly Gavin, Courtney Mahoney, Rob Shanley and Tom Keft as much game time as possible. Jake Curran enjoyed a brief cameo, but our improvement may have been down to Rhys Ward, myself and Othello Heka (with a flat tyre) spending most of the match on the bench. Some scintillating play from Jack Nettleton and Holly Gavin set up a 10-7 win to the Beasts, but it wasn’t enough to progress to Tuesdaynights final. We may not have left Homebush with the wins, but the group certainly had a lot of fun and left with a real appreciation of how talented wheelchair athletes are. The Championships continue for the rest of the week with the Australian team hot favourites to take Gold over the Kiwis

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