A tough loss to Japan has seen Australia’s wheelchair rugby team finish in second place at the IWRF Asia Oceania Zonal Championships.
Defeated in their second consecutive game to the host nation 51-56, the Steelers have not only lost their status as the regional heavy weights but have dropped down the rankings by one, to become the world’s number four team.
“Japan have improved of late and have definitely shown why they are now number three in the world,” said Australian head coach Brad Dubberley.
In a fair fight for gold, the two teams battled it out on the court with Japan taking the upper hand, finishing the first quarter 12-15. While the second and third quarter saw both teams scoring 12 and 14 tries respectively, the Japanese side prevailed in the final quarter, scoring three final tries to cement a five point difference.
After a disappointing campaign at the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in London, which saw the Steelers fall from the number one spot to world number three, Dubberley says the loss has come hard to the team but it’s important that both the athletes and staff learn and regroup in order to climb back up to the top.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose, but it’s a good wake up call to us. It’s better this happens to us now rather than in 10 months time in Rio,” he said.
“It’s been a huge month for our wheelchair rugby team and we’ve had some huge learnings. These two events have really helped us understand where we are at and helped us get a better idea on what needs to be done to get back to where we need and want to be.”
Although the Championships were a key qualifying tournament for Rio 2016, the Steelers had previously secured their place at next year’s Games by winning the 2014 World Championships.
The Steelers will return home this week and regroup for their next tournament, the Paralympic Test Event in Rio this January.
Although the Zonal Championships were a key qualifying tournament for the Rio 2016, the Steelers secured their place at next year’s Games by winning the 2014 World Championship title.
The Steelers will return home this week and regroup for their next tournament, the Paralympic Test Event in Rio in January.
By APC Media