Rucks, scrums, and line-outs are all familiar rugby terms. However, can you imagine playing a game of rugger – underwater? Well, many do. Underwater rugby was invented Köln, Germany 1961 and became popular in the Nordic countries. The game has since evolved and 13 counties were represented at the latest championship.
It’s the only truly 3-D team sport where both the ball and the players can use all three dimensions. The concept of the game is to keep possession of the ball and outwit your opponents by using skill, speed, maneuverability and breath hold. The aim of the game is to get your team’s ball into the opposing team’s bucket, by holding your breath and tackling underwater.
Each team has 15 players who wear fins, a diving mask and snorkel. A plastic ball filled with salt water is used to score a goal. The ball is negatively buoyant, so it sinks, and it is passed by almost “pushing” the ball through the water to your teammates. Generally, a team has 6 players comprising 2 forwards, 2 backs and 2 goalkeepers.
It’s a contact sport and players can attack each other to recover the ball. Three referees monitor the rules, 2 underwater and 1 deck referee. Kicks, hits, strangling or playing above the surface can be punished by warnings, free-throw or 2 minutes penalties.
Official underwater rugby matches last 15 minutes each half, with a 5- minute break to recover between. It is a fast and exhausting game; therefore, the substitutes replace their players on the fly.
Who is playing underwater rugby?
Major championships have been conducted at a continental level within Europe for senior teams since 1978 and for junior teams since 1986. World championships have been conducted since 1980. There are 20 countries that play and around 13 enter the world champs. South Africa is not one of them. Yet!
Image Credits: Pure Underwater Rugby & CMAS