So it's little surprise that until recently it was known by the catchy but intimidating moniker of murderball.
That name has been sidelined. If it had kept the informal title, it probably wouldn't have readily transferred to the modern paralympic games. This year's opening wheelchair rugby match at London 2012 kicks off tomorrow, with the opening pool game for the GB team against the USA.
Watching will be the members of Scotland's own fledgling wheelchair rugby team the Caledonian Crushers, who have just embarked on their first proper season of competitive matches.
Despite the fact that one of the leading lights in the GB team, Mike Kerr, is from Uddingston, Scotland has been without its own team for around a decade.
Unsurprisingly, Kerr has been instrumental in helping set up the Crushers, and remains a strong supporter of the fledgling club.
That's good news for players like Ciaran Pryce. The Glasgow 20-year old-has been a wheelchair user since 2007, when a rugby injury left the then Cathkin High pupil a tetraplegic, unable to use his paralysed legs and with limited use of his arms.
He had not played any kind of sport since leaving hospital after months of treatment and rehabilitation in 2008. But he took up wheelchair rugby at Lancaster University, where is now in the third year of a philosophy degree.
There he was able to join a club – West Coast Crash – thanks partly to support from the rugby charity Hearts and Balls, which funds the taxis which take him to training.
Talking to him, it is plain where the sport's fearsome reputation comes from. "A lot of people break their fingers," he explains, adding: "I've only done that once so far, two weeks after I started training."
Wheelchair rugby is the only full-contact paralympic sport – players are allowed to drive their wheelchairs at each other in order to block attacks or win possession. Although the specialised sports wheelchairs are designed to be more stable than standard ones, lower to the ground and with angled wheels, they are nevertheless regularly tipped over during games, with players largely expected to simply right themselves and get on with it.
"It's nice to be hitting things again," Pryce explains. The obvious question is – isn't it dangerous, given that several of the players in the Crushers team have already suffered significant injuries? "It's not too bad. The chairs take a lot more damage than the people," he argues.
The sport is only open to those with significant and specific disabilities. Unlike other sports such as wheelchair basketball, participants must have impairments in at least three out of four limbs.
Their level of ability is graded according to how much they can use any of their limbs, with teams limited as to the number of more capable players they can field at any one time.
Most of those involved with the Scottish team have suffered spinal injuries, usually caused by falls or car accidents rather than sports.
But people who have come by their disabilities by different means are also commonly able to play, including people with cerebral palsy or other congenital disorders; those left with disabilities due to diseases such as meningitis or muscular dystrophy, or people who have had multiple amputations. Anyone in these or similar categories, who likes the sound of the sport is being urged to get in touch, as the team, which currently has eight regular players, is keen to add new members.
There is a reason why the team has grown up around those who have had back or neck injuries. One of the founders, Claire Lincoln, is a physiotherapist at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, and has long been a proponent of adaptive sport.
When Kerr collared her at a charity ball, he was having to travel to Newcastle twice a week to train. "He said it was ridiculous we didn't have a team in Scotland. By the end of the night, I'd agreed to set one up and it's just about reached its first anniversary now," Ms Lincoln explains.
She describes the sport as a mixture of rugby, handball and American football. Players score, as in rugby, by crossing a line, but there are different rules about how long you can hold the ball, no bar on passing forward, and the ball is round, not oval.
"Rehabilitation through sport is a big thing for me. The sport side of things is great, but you see the change in terms of confidence, motivation and fitness in players."
Simply travelling to matches – all of which take place in England – is a major challenge for some of the players. The team has to hire staff to help players, including a nurse to provide the nursing care that they need when they are away from their normal setting.
As a result, the impact on mental wellbeing is about much more than what happens on the court, Ms Lincoln explains. "It teachers the guys life skills as well as getting the confidence of being away from home, which has often been made into a perfect wheelchair environment. That can be quite frightening, as some have never left the house before.
"One lad got out of hospital two years ago and had never thought about going away on holiday with friends, but has gained the confidence to start planning that."
Pryce agrees. "I hadn't done any sport since the accident. But you get stronger, and you meet more people with different ways of doing things. Even watching the way other people get in and out of cars, you see the way they do things and learn from that. But mainly I just do it because it's fun."
The sport is costly, considering the organisation and care needed to attend tournaments. For training alone, players need to get to Glasgow from as far afield as Alloa, Perth and Galashiels. Even the chairs cost £3000 to £6000 each.
"We set a £36,000 target to get the club up and running and we have all but a few thousand pounds of that now," Ms Lincoln says.
Funding from the Big Lottery Fund has provided the bulk of this, but the club could do with sponsorship of some kind. The hope is that the profile it gains from the paralympics may help with this. "Regular support would be phenomenal," Ms Lincoln adds.