An alternative form of rugby, dubbed "caterpillar rugby" by its aficionados, has started in Japan, with the aim of levelling the playing field between the able-bodied and those who are disabled in their lower bodies. In a gymnasium in downtown Tokyo on Tuesday (27 October), about 30 people crawled on their bellies wearing special green and yellow cushioned suits.
The sport requires players to only use their arms to move across the floor. The game's creator, Tomohiro Sawada, from Yuru Sports Organisation said he wanted to come up with a sport that could involve everyone. He even said that some of his disabled friends did especially well at "caterpillar rugby".
"I have many friends who are in wheelchairs, or have an artificial leg. I wanted to create a sport that they could excel in. Many of them are well-built due to the physical exertions they go through in their everyday lives. We've tried caterpillar rugby a few times, and they were so much stronger than people like me," he said.
Essential to playing the game is the tube-like cushion suit, created by Yumi Sada, a designer who specialises in clothes for disabled people. She said the suit not only prevents bruising, but also give everyone the same handicap.
Right now, the rules of the game, which is still in its infancy, are revised regularly. Currently five players are pitched against another five in a square area half the size of a basketball court. The rules are similar to the game of rugby.
Daisuke Uehara, a 33-year-old participant in a wheelchair, said this was his first time playing "caterpillar rugby".
"If someone told me to stand up and run, I wouldn't be able to. This sport allows people like me to be on the same level as others, and enjoy the same sport. This is a sport for everyone," Uehara said.