World silver medallists Australia entered the tournament as favourites, with 4th placed Sweden and 5th and 6th placed Canada and Great Britain completing the field. The presence of a strong line up, including a competitive GB team and live coverage by Channel 4, assured that the event would create a lot of interest and be well supported.
A practice match between Australia and Great Britain on the day before competition, won narrowly by Australia, prompted this quip on the IWRF website: 'That's how well-prepared LOCOG is – there was even a test event for the test event!'
Good wins by Australia and, showing that they have learnt a lot from the previous World Championship, two hard-fought wins by the GB team against Canada and Sweden, meant that the line-ups for the final and 3rd/4th play off were determined after the first day of competition.
On the second day, the 'dress rehearsal' for 3rd place was won by Canada in the morning session, who went on to prove that they had Sweden's measure by winning a close return match in the afternoon.
Whilst both Australia and Great Britain had already secured a finals berth, their potentially 'meaningless' preliminary match on the second day went to extra time, showing the strength of passion that the athletes feel whenever they put on their nations' uniform. Australia however appeared to rest key players Batt and Bond during that match, which was won by GB. As a consequence, with the two 'Bs' rested and ready for the final, Australia ran away with the game, courtesy of an amazing 2nd quarter, which they won 23-10, enough to shut out GB and clinch the trophy.
'That was a very hard lesson,' said Aaron Phipps, GB's leading scorer. 'I'm disappointed with the scoreline, but respect to Australia, and to Ryley (Batt). He's the best player in the world.'
Ryley Batt was gracious in victory, saying: 'They (GB) are better than that, and I know come London, they'll be a better team.'
I think that the final word belongs to Acting International Rugby Board Chief Executive Robert Brophy, who was in attendance to support the IWRF as part of the ongoing partnership between the two sports: 'The standard of competition, physicality, skill and sheer competitiveness was extremely impressive. I can totally understand why Wheelchair Rugby is one of the hottest tickets at the Paralympic Games.'