Wheelchair rugby star sent flying as chair smashed up in collision

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England captain Tom Halliwell suffered a brutal challenge during his side’s Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup opener with Australia. The competition is part of the able-bodied Rugby League World Cup for the very first time, with hosts England among the favourites – and they got their campaign underway with a 38-8 win at the Copper Box in London.

The encounter with Australia was a particularly bruising one with a series of heavy challenges going in from both sides over the course of the encounter. But it was Halliwell who suffered the heaviest blow after a brutal smash from Bayley McKenna.

Halliwell was sent flying out of his chair and landed face-first on the ground after the crash, with his chair damaged before his Australian opponent wheeled off and play resumed. Halliwell eventually made his way back up as the crowd inside the Copper Box gasped at the brutal challenge. Halliwell played for Leeds Rhinos as a youngster but sustained a freak injury.

England did emerge as the victors on the court though with an impressive 38-8 victory to get their Group A campaign off to a winning start. The hosts will take on Ireland and Spain in the hope of progressing, while Wales, Scotland, France and the USA are in Group B.

The matches are played by teams of five and has similar rules to the running game – although players can only tackle an opponent by removing a tag from their shoulder. Tries can be scored by touching the ball against the wheel of the chair by players with less mobility. Meanwhile, all kicking for penalties and conversions is done by a hand, using a fist.


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Speaking ahead of the match, Halliwell told the BBC: “Winning the tournament would be a huge success but the bigger thing is creating a legacy for the next generation.

“We just want to get more people involved in the sport, both playing and in support roles, and this is the perfect opportunity.

“Wheelchair rugby league has grown so much since the last World Cup in 2017. Back then, we had to pay our own way to get there so to be where we are now is phenomenal and we can’t wait to get started.”

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