Fans of underwater rugby hope more people give it a try

World Today

The game of rugby is played around the world, but it’s lesser known that there’s also an aquatic version of the sport. Players at a pool in Newark, New Jersey say underwater rugby is a great way to get your kicks.

CGTN’s William Denselow reports.Follow William Denselow on Twitter @willdenze

“Let’s just start with the fact that you don’t have air, and from there everything is twice as complicated,” Juan Pablo Riomana says, who’s a coach of the New Jersey Hammerheads. “It’s in the water, so it’s a different type of contact. All of that gives you a rush of excitement, and it’s pretty cool to feel it.”

The New Jersey Hammerheads formed in 2006 and have about 35 members. There are currently seven underwater rugby teams in the United States. They hope the game will continue to rise in popularity. 

Unlike the version of rugby played on land, there are no tries, scrums or lineouts in this adaptation. But there is certainly tackling–many of the New Jersey Hammerheads say one of the best parts about the sport is that it’s completely three dimensional. You can tackle and be tackled from any angle.

“You have two baskets at the bottom. Two teams of six in the water and six outside. There is free subbing. The idea is to put the ball in the other team’s basket. If you have the ball, anyone from the other team can grab you. But as soon as you let the ball go they have to let you go.” Rolexi Pinzon, who’s a director of the game, said.

Underwater rugby was invented in Germany more than 50 years ago. It is now being played in around 30 nations. The next world championship is set for Austria in 2019.

It’s a game still very much below the surface of the sporting mainstream, but fans are optimistic it can keep making waves on the global sports scene.