Wheelchair rugby: Day two preview

It’s straight back into action for the teams after a bruising opening day. Can the favourites repeat the trick on Thursday? 15 Sep 2016
By Beau Greenway | For the IPC

Four more tense wheelchair rugby matches are scheduled in the Carioca Arena 1 on Thursday (15 September) as the world’s best teams chase Paralympic glory at Rio 2016.

The world’s top four ranked nations – USA, Australia, Japan and Canada – all started their tournaments on a winning note on day one. But they are far from safe with two pool matches to come.

Sweden and USA start things off on day two from 10.30am, with the Swedes needing a win to stay in the hunt for the medals after falling to Japan yesterday.

USA started well against France, while Sweden were very slow out of the blocks against Japan before rallying their way back into the contest.

If the two teams start the same way as yesterday, Sweden will certainly be left to make up plenty of ground once again to keep alive their slim semi-finals chances.

Great Britain then clash with Canada at 12.45pm in a hugely important game. A loss all but rules out Great Britain after their defeat to Australia on day one – but they are always well matched with the Canadians and will be a good chance to score an upset.

Canada handled the hostile local crowd very well on Wednesday (14 September), with Zak Madell dominating the scoreboard like he so often does.

Captain Trevor Hirschfield also had a terrific all-round game, leading from the front, particularly at the defensive end.

Japan and France is the next match on court at 4pm, with France also in the same position as Great Britain and Sweden, needing a win to stay alive in the competition.

France were competitive with the world’s No. 1 team, showing the gap between the top eight teams in the world is not what it was four years ago.

The final game of the evening is between Brazil and Australia, where another vocal home crowd is expected to pour into the arena.

While the hosts were beaten by Canada in their tournament opener, they have shown plenty of signs of improvement since the Parapan American Games in Toronto last year, where they struggled to match it with the top sides.

Australia were less than convincing in their first game against Great Britain, but will be better for the run and will start clear favourites.

However, they can’t afford to take the hosts lightly, who appear inspired by the mass of support they received during their debut in wheelchair rugby at the Paralympic Games.

High-pointer Julio Braz was a shining light. He is capable of covering the court at a rapid rate and making his opposition pay at the offensive end if he’s not well defended.