A thrilling final, which had both teams neck and neck for much of the game, ended with disappointment for Great Britain as current world champions, Japan, won the King Power Quad Nations final by just two tries and lifted the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Trophy.
In a game that was jam packed with everything that makes Wheelchair Rugby such an exciting watch, spectators were on their feet as GB star athletes Aaron Phipps and Jim Roberts smashed into Yukinobu Ike as they tried to disrupt the playmaker whose height advantage and throw presented a real challenge to all teams. Both Phipps and Roberts went on to win individual awards as the best in their class of all the teams competing.
With the game looking evenly matched throughout, Great Britain ended the first half two tries up before a series of careless errors in the third quarter cost Great Britain dearly. Japan, who showed the same composure and discipline which gave them their first world title back in Sydney last summer, held out to win the match 53-51 leaving Great Britain contemplating what might have been.
Despite the final score, Great Britain, who earlier in the week announced ISPS Handa as their new principal sponsor for the next two years, will have gained much from this tournament ahead of the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge and 2020’s Paralympic Games, both to be hosted in Tokyo, and are clearly knocking on the door of the trophy cabinet.
A record number of wheelchair rugby fans attended the three day tournament at Leicester’s Morningside Arena which also saw France take bronze and Canada come fourth. Alongside the tournament GBWR was able showcase its commitment to building wheelchair rugby communities with a Junior event held on the show court as part of its Lord’s Taverners programme and also a women’s event as part of GBWR’s campaign to get more women and girls playing the sport.
David Pond, Chief Executive Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby said: “It was a great tournament- the athletes enjoyed it, those who came to watch had fun, and I know from talking to them that many found their perceptions of disability turned upside down – just as many of the chairs were! We could not stage an international tournament of this standard without significant support and I am grateful to the local sponsors, the volunteers and of course the hundreds of spectators who bought tickets and came along to support it. I also want to personally thank the family of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and King Power for being the title sponsor for the second year running. It’s been a very tough year for both and I’m humbled that they have still found time to commit to our event’.
The tournament was also visited by a delegation from the Japanese city of Kitakyushu led by its Mayor Mr Mr Kenji Kitahashi. The city of Kitakyushu will provide the training camp for the Great Britain ahead of the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in October and the Paralympic Test Event and Paralympic Games in 2020.
For more details visit : www.wrquadnations.com
To learn more about GB Wheelchair Rugby visit: www.gbwr.org.uk