Rugby is a very aggressive sport when played on the ground much less deep in a pool. It may seem unusual to put on a mask, snorkel, and fins and join your team underwater, but it’s a sport that’s admired by many. Underwater rugby, also known as Unterwasserrugby, was created in Koln, Germany in 1961. In 1978, the rules of
underwater rugby were made to be different from the regular game of rugby, and that’s when the sport began to flourish.
Underwater rugby is made up of two teams with twelve players in total. Six members on the team are playing at a time, and those players can swap with any of the other six on the bench. Underwater rugby is played in a pool with a depth between 3.5 – 5m deep with 16-inch goals on the bottom of the pool. The objective is to take a salt water-filled ball and score in the opposing team’s goal. Underwater rugby players swim faster than the ball, which weighs 12-15lb, and scoring means managing to push the ball past players anchoring themselves to the goal, which is obviously challenging. There are three positions: defense, offense, and goalie. The game usually lasts for 10-15 minutes per half, and teams are allowed one sixty-second time-out during the game.
Playing an underwater sport is arduous and exhausting. It’s important to wear the right equipment in order to stay protected and to receive the proper amount of air intake. Each player wears a mask, a snorkel, fins, and caps. Andy Dunkinson, a US underwater rugby player, stated, “You have to learn to calm down and orient to three dimensions, and realize that you may have this desire to breathe, but that you’re not really running out of air.”
Many say underwater rugby is like sprinting down a basketball court, but instead, a player is swimming through depths of up to 15 feet on a single breath of air, all while fighting off attackers who are clutching and grabbing at the ball and opponent at every chance. To most, it seems more like a death scramble underwater than a game enjoyed by many.
This game is very popular in Northern Europe where they grow up playing it five times a week, while US-based players are still trying to get the sport off the ground. It is, however, growing in the U.S., where there are now seven underwater rugby teams. It’s looking like underwater rugby will soon develop into a more well-known sport across the entire world.
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