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A Word About the Wheel Blacks

In Korea, 7 days ago, the NZ Wheel Blacks team won Bronze, finishing 3rd at the IWRF Asia Oceania Wheelchair Rugby Championship. This placing earned NZ a qualification spot at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, the Wheel Blacks have been working together toward this goal for many years.

Greg Mitchell, Coach of the Wheel Blacks has been involved since 2007, beginning in a mechanic role and development team Coach, Mitchell took on a higher performance role of Coaching the Wheel Blacks a couple of years after, and has continued involvement in a Coaching capacity. It has been years of work and commitment from Mitchell but also from the team. Eight of the nine players at the 2019 Asia Oceania Championship have spent at least four years training and playing together, with some individuals being on the team for up to nine years, all working toward the goal of competing at the Paralympics. This is not about who has been there the longest but does show the lengthy commitment our players and volunteers have with wheelchair rugby. Our newer Wheel Blacks players are also showing the solid commitment of their senior mentors, giving NZWR a long term vision of success on the world stage.

Team with Flag.jpeg

Over the 2019 season the Coaching Team had players focussing on offence, "The team has got to be able score goals to be able to win games" Mitchell states. There has been a big focus on player fitness to ensure play did not fade toward the end of the game, good fitness also helping minimise turnovers.

The Bronze game saw the Korean team bring a different playing game than the previous game between Korea & Wheel Blacks with new line ups and stepping up their intensity of play.

In October, the Wheel Blacks travel to Tokyo for the World Wheelchair Rugby Championship where the eight top teams in the World come together to compete. This competition will offer the Wheel Blacks a snapshot of what they will be facing at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. NZ often get to battle against the top teams with Japan and Australia being within our international zone. Playing against other top teams from around the World will offer great insight toward the Wheel Blacks last chapter of work for Paralympic level competition.

"Every team is tough, we just try to keep in there, being present and taking hold of the momentum when it is flowing - trust the plan, trust the process" says Mitchell.


Donate here to support the Wheel Blacks and NZ Wheelchair Rugby on their journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Or support via our community partner, by clicking on Ohau Wines, use  code ‘WheelchairRugby’ to receive a discount for yourself, and for a portion of the sale to be donated to NZ Wheelchair Rugby.

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Hayden Barton-Cootes - Wheel Black

Watch Hayden and the Wheel Blacks compete against Japan tomorrow at 2.30pm NZT (11.30 KST) here. The 2019 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby Asia Oceania Championship will have four days of games. For New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby to earn a qualification space for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the Wheel Blacks will need to medal..

Get the tournament schedule and daily updated results here.

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#PaulosPicsNZ

Name: Hayden Barton-Cootes

Nickname: H or H B C

Based: Auckland

Age: 25

Class: 3.0



How long have you been involved with the Wheel Blacks?
Since 2015, debut against Australia.

What do you love about wheelchair rugby?
Catching bodies!! (Hitting others players out).
I love the physicality of the sport and travelling around the world meeting some awesome people along the way.

Which team do you look forward to playing the most and why?
No team in particular but in saying that, Korea is currently the team we need to beat to qualify for 2020 Paralympics in Japan.

What’s your best memory with the Wheel Blacks?
Back in 2016 we lost to France by 2 points which missed out on qualifying to Rio Paralympics 🤣🤣 still hurts when I think about it. Good times.

Who is the funniest teammate?
Batman or Gav. (I was paid to say Gav's name).

If you could be another player for a week who would it be and why?
Cody- because he told me I had no other option.

Favourite movie?
Troy, Remember the Titans or Coach Carter.

Go to Karaoke song ?
Wagon Wheel!!!!

Favourite food?
I love pizza and burgers.

What is your pre game routine?
Say a prayer and listening to Six60 or motivational speakers.

I want to give a huge thank you first and foremost to the lord and saviour, Jesus Christ for this opportunity to able to represent our country playing the sport I love. I would like to thank my family and friends who have supported me from the very beginning. Big thanks to DGSport, Melrose and Lynn River for the great equipment.


Support the Wheel Blacks journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Donate here to support the Wheel Blacks and NZ Wheelchair Rugby on their journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Or support via our community partner, by clicking on Ohau Wines, use  code ‘WheelchairRugby’ to receive a discount for yourself, and for a portion of the sale to be donated to NZ Wheelchair Rugby.


Thank you to Travel Prefab, for supporting NZ Wheelchair Rugby and the Wheel Blacks for their travel needs domestically and internationally.

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Cameron Leslie - Wheel Black

Wheel Blacks are in Korea readying for a fierce tournament beginning on the 6th of September - all the best to the team.
All games will be webcast live at www.tinyurl.com/watchwebcast.

Cameron Leslie 2019.jpeg

Name : Cameron Leslie

Nickname : Kamo

Based : Whangarei/Auckland

Age : 29

Class : 3.0

How long have you been involved with the Wheel Blacks?
I first made the Wheel Blacks back in 2010, debuting alongside Nafi Lefono in a Four Nations series in Australia. It has been a hell of a journey shared with a bunch of great people who have all contributed to the enjoyment and laughs along the way.  

What do you love about wheelchair rugby?
For me it is all about the shared journey. I also swim for New Zealand – have done since 2006 – and the team aspect of all chasing one goal is something I really enjoy. It's an awesome sport through which is really spectator friendly so it's also just a cool sport in general.

Which team do you look forward to playing the most and why?
I'm similar to my 1.0 buddy and fellow Wheel Black Cody (aka Trenty) who just loves getting on court and taking on any team. I'm a big fan of playing Canada even though I haven't played them many times, mainly because they are a team that plays hard but fair and has each others' backs. I really respect teams and players who play hard but fair.

What’s your best memory with the Wheel Blacks?
That's a tough one because there are so many good times. I'm definitely a player who craves success, quality and winning so one game which jumps out to me was one against France in the 2016 Rio Paralympics qualification tournament. The crowd was so loud we couldn't hear each other on the court, we played one line up the whole game, and we pretty much gave up trying to talk and just went with our instincts and it was really good rugby. We ended up winning by 5 or so points, I just loved how we didn't need to talk but we clicked.  

Who is the funniest teammate?
Funniest teammate is a hard one because everyone has their moments.

If you could be another player for a week who would it be and why? 
I'd love to be Cody Everson for a week. I think he's real pretty.

Favourite movie?
Entourage, Love Actually or Old School.

Favourite song genre?
Definitely a reggae man myself. I'm not against many genres so if it has a good beat or good lyrics then I'm in.

Favourite food?
Japanese or Thai would be my go-to I think. I'm not afraid to get amongst a good crab stick either actually.

What is your pre game routine?
I don't really have a pre-game routine as such, I'm a fan of repetition in terms of preparation – especially if it gets you in the right head space and physical space. I think a theme for me though is staying relaxed and visualising tactics.

A big shout out to DG Sports and Lynn River.


Support the Wheel Blacks journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Donate here to support the Wheel Blacks and NZ Wheelchair Rugby on their journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Or support via our community partner, by clicking on Ohau Wines, use  code ‘WheelchairRugby’ to receive a discount for yourself, and for a portion of the sale to be donated to NZ Wheelchair Rugby.


Thank you to Travel Prefab, for supporting NZ Wheelchair Rugby and the Wheel Blacks for their travel needs domestically and internationally.

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Cherie Porter - Decades of Volunteering

At the recent NZ Wheelchair Rugby Nationals, we recognised and celebrated Cheries dedication and commitment of over 23 years volunteering to the sport of wheelchair rugby. Congratulations to Cherie on receiving the inaugural Jaimey Leigh Fellows Award.

The Jaimey Leigh Fellows Award has been created to honour the legacy as one of our sport’s great volunteers. Jaimey Leigh Fellows embraced all the very best qualities required to be an outstanding volunteer and make a lasting impact on not only the sport of Wheelchair Rugby, but all those involved. Jaimey Leigh's brother and father, Sam & Jon, attended the NZWR Nationals to present the award. sharing generously the love and commitment that Jaimey Leigh (known as 'Aunty' to players) gave to wheelchair rugby.

Ken Sowden receiving the award on behalf of Cherie, in her absence.

Ken Sowden receiving the award on behalf of Cherie, in her absence.

"Cheries experience, knowledge and understanding of the game, athletes, events and logistics mean that if she was no longer involved it would take several people to be able to fill these roles" says Ken Sowden of Parafed Canterbury and the International Wheelchair Rugby Foundation. Cherie ensures that whatever needs doing, gets done from pumping up tyres at training to managing the Wheel Blacks at Paralympics and Worlds.

Cheries volunteer support to wheelchair rugby has been given from grassroots to high performance level, supporting individuals players, the Canterbury region, managing the National Wheel Blacks team, as a NZWR Board member and representing NZWR internationally.

Thank you to Cherie for the historical and ongoing commitment to the wheelchair rugby community, supporting the players to be able to play the sport they love.

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Wheel Blacks aim to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

NZ Wheelchair Rugby's elite team, the Wheel Blacks, depart on the 31st of August to compete at the IWRF Asia Oceania Zonal Championship in Korea. This Championship is the qualifier event for 2020 Tokyo Paralympics providing NZ Wheel Blacks with an excellent opportunity to qualify.

Games begin on the 6th of September with the Wheel Blacks first games, against the top teams in the World, setting the tone for a tournament of tough games. The Wheel Blacks have been training hard, showing massive commitment throughout the year and they are looking strong.

With Japan and Australia’s entry in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics already confirmed, the 2019 Asia Oceania Championship provides the best opportunity for Thailand, Korea and NZ to gain Paralympic qualification in many, many years. The Wheel Blacks are hungry to win, all year they have been readying for their greatest on court battle and will be playing their absolute hardest against Thailand and Korea to gain qualification. All matches will be broadcast live on Youtube by the Korean Disabled Rugby Association.

Wheel Blacks Team - Gareth Lynch, Nafi Lefono, Mike Todd, Tyler Jennings, Hayden Barton-Cootes, Gavin Rolton, Robbie Hewitt, Cody Everson & Cameron Leslie (not in photo), surrounded in support by the WB Team Staff, NZ Wheelchair Rugby Committee, Regional representatives and Volunteers.

Wheel Blacks Team - Gareth Lynch, Nafi Lefono, Mike Todd, Tyler Jennings, Hayden Barton-Cootes, Gavin Rolton, Robbie Hewitt, Cody Everson & Cameron Leslie (not in photo), surrounded in support by the WB Team Staff, NZ Wheelchair Rugby Committee, Regional representatives and Volunteers.

NZ Wheelchair Rugby and the Wheel Blacks send a great thank you to the general NZ public who purchase our pins and key-rings, supporting wheelchair rugby and allowing players to take the journey toward Paralympic qualification. NZ Wheelchair Rugby also wish to thank the families and volunteers who support our sport and sacrifice personal time with their loved ones for the Wheel Blacks team. We wish to recognise all sponsors and supporters of our sport and of the Wheel Blacks, we have immense gratitude to you all and know that our team, the Wheel Blacks, will do New Zealand proud.

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Wheelchair Rugby Volunteer Award of 2019

We are remembering wheelchair rugby’s great volunteer, friend and whanau, Jaimey Leigh Fellows this year and each year that follows.

The Jaimey Leigh Fellows Award has been created to honour the legacy of one of our sport’s great volunteers. Jaimey Leigh Fellows embraced all the very best qualities required to be an outstanding volunteer and make a lasting impact on not only the sport of Wheelchair Rugby, but all those involved.

We are looking for a volunteer who goes above and beyond to make our sport, and the people involved, better! Please read the nomination criteria and send in nominations to celebrate your volunteers and offer them the opportunity to win for the Jaimey Leigh Fellows Award.

The award will be presented at the NZWR Nationals Tournament over the weekend 16th - 18th of August, in Christchurch.

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