Quad Rugby to make Can-Am debut

SARANAC LAKE – The Can-Am Rugby Tournament will introduce a new addition this year during its 40th anniversary event, as Quad Rugby makes its debut at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 at North Country Community College.

Dubbed as the first Can-Am Cup, a United States team will take on Canada in an exhibition in the NCCC gym that is free for spectators. Donations will be contributed to spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury research.

Quad Rugby, known in Canada as wheelchair rugby, is a team sport for both male and female athletes with mobility-related disabilities in at least three limbs. It is a unisex sport with all players competing in manual wheelchairs.

There are both offensive and defensive chairs depending on the player’s position and/or particular strengths. The game was invented in 1976 in Winnipeg, Canada, and began in the United States in 1979.

As the two most active countries in the sport, the rivalry between Canada and the U.S. has reached legendary proportions as they are consistent medal-round finalists and opponents in the quadrennial World Championships and Paralympic Games.

Currently, out of the 25 nations participating, the U.S. is ranked first and the Canadians are third. The Wheelchair Rugby Federation has an annual circuit of matches and the hope is that the Can-Am Tournament will become an annual fixture for the federation.

This year’s match features the Ottawa Stingers versus the Northeast Passage Wildcats. The U.S. team, hailing from New Hampshire, features Ryan Coy, Alexi Macias, Mike Wright, Alison Levine and Ashley Perkins.

The Canadian representatives are Reid Mulligan, Corey Jalbert, Dwayne Besharah, Steve Menard and Carl Girard.

The referees will be Chandler Bullard and Raymond Besharah. Marie-Claude Menard will be the equipment manager.

The 40th Can-Am Rugby Tournament will take place Aug. 2-4 in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. It is considered the largest rugby tournament in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 100 teams competing annually.