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Underwater rugby in a league of its own

04 April 2014 Natalie Darnell

Underwater rugby in a league of its own

Underwater rugby in a league of its own

A fast paced, challenging and somewhat unusual water sport is starting to take off in Australia and New Zealand - underwater rugby. Like its on-land counterpart, it is not a game for the faint hearted, as it requires endurance, strength and guts.

Those who opt to participate also need to be a reasonably strong swimmer, not afraid of rough play and have good lung capacity! Read on to find out more about this intriguing sport.

How the game works
Essentially, two teams battle it out underwater to put the ball through the opposing teams basket. There are six players on each team, and three positions – goalies, forwards and defenders. In order for the game to continue flowing whilst players duck up for air, everyone pairs up with another player on their team so one can be involved in the play while the other swims to the surface to take a breath.

The pool is usually around five metres deep, and players use a negatively-buoyant ball filled with salt water, which makes it slowly sink to the bottom. Like normal rugby, contact is a big part of the game, however the resistance in the water can soften the blows a little. Because of the rough play, women tend to play in full piece swimsuits and guys don their budgie smugglers.

History
Underwater rugby originated in Germany in the 1960s after a group of scuba divers decided to play ball underwater. The game was taken up quickly by many Scandinavian countries, where it remains very popular to this day.

World championships for underwater rugby are now held every four years, however there is still a great deal of teams who play socially rather than competitively.

rugby2Clubs in Australia and New Zealand
Currently there are established clubs in Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Canberra, Auckland and Wellington, as interest in the sport from both men and women grows.

Clubs are potentially going to be opened in Newcastle, Melbourne and Perth also. All clubs welcome new members, so if you are interested in giving this challenging sport a go, get in contact!