Underwater Rugby

One of our mission statements here at Pokatok is to cover the entire spectrum of sports – from the more traditional to the wild and wacky. Today, we take on one from the latter end of the spectrum as we dive (pun fully intended) into the world of underwater rugby. Let’s kick it off with the origin of the game.

Underwater Rugby Origin

The game of underwater rugby was invented in 1961 in Germany by Ludwig von Bersuda of the German Underwater Club (DUC). Von Bersuda hoped to devise a game played entirely underwater. Filling a water polo with salt water so that it had a negative buoyancy, the club had their underwater ball game. Von Bersuda and the rest of the DUC often used the game as a warm-up for other diving activities.

From there, other clubs adopted the game as a warm-up of their own. With the activity rapidly spreading around the various German diving clubs, it was only a matter of time before it became a sport in its own right. Dr. Franz Josef Grimmeisen set up the first underwater rugby game in 1964 and the game has only grown since then.

Rules of Play

The sport of underwater rugby is a relatively easy one to get a handle on. The rules are incredibly straight-forward and intuitive.

A typical “pitch” for games.

Games are played in a pool with a depth of about 3.5m to 5m and a heavy metal bucket is placed at each end of the pool to serve as a team’s goal. A team can score points by taking the ball and depositing it into the other team’s bucket. Incredibly simple!

The sport isn’t without rules, however. Players can be penalized for playing above the surface of the water, punching, kicking, or strangling. However, other than that it is a full-contact sport. Fins, masks, and snorkels serve as required equipment. Like hockey, substitutions happen in a rolling manner on the fly. That should come as no surprise given the exhausting nature of underwater activity.

Six players will be on the “pitch” at a given time with six serving as possible substitutes. The games consist of two fifteen-minute halves with a five-minute halftime.

With the game being fully underwater, it is a truly three-dimensional sport. Right, left, forward, backward, up, or down – all are movement options for players.

Looking for a physically taxing sport to improve your conditioning? Underwater rugby definitely fits the bill. Though it has little in common with the land-based game where it gets its name, it is no less difficult. If full-contact underwater sports sound appealing to you, be sure to look up your local club or consider starting your own!

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