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Underwater ‘Rugby’


It has nothing to do with the town Rugby in Warwickshire, England – in fact it should be called ‘Underwater Cologne’ being invented in Cologne, Germany – but that doesn’t really work. Comparing the sport with Rugby football the only common thing is that it is a contact sport where you can attack the opponent player and fight for the ball. One can debate about the name but it was decided and the sport has developed into an interesting and demanding sport in it’s own right that is now played in many countries with a very high athletic level in the top teams.

What is Underwater Rugby

Underwater Rugby is a team sport played underwater in a pool with a depth of 3.5 to 5 meters.

The two teams with each 6 players in the water and up to 6 substitutes are equipped with fins mask and snorkel. The togs and caps are either blue or white in colour to distinguish the teams.

The ball is a round plastic ball filled with salt water and weighs about 3 kg. It can be passed between players underwater by pushing although it doesn’t go very far horizontally before it goes down to the bottom of the pool. The ball is not allowed to go above the surface.

The teams try to score goals by getting the ball into the opponents goal which is a steel buckets on either side at the bottom of the pool.

Underwater Rugby is a very fast game and since the heart-rate is up under oxygen depletion, the dive times are fairly short in average. So it is about being at the right place in the right moment to make for a dynamic and fast game.

In official games under the rules of CMAS the game is judged by 3 referees – two underwater with dive tanks and one deck referee. The referees use a signaling system that is heard by the players underwater and above.

Underwater Rugby is a contact sport where a player can attack and hold another player when one of these players has the ball. However it is not allowed to grab the fins mask or togs of the other player and it is not allowed to hit, kick or strangle other players. Also it is not allowed to hold a player if not in contact with the ball. For infringements the referees penalise with warnings, free-throws penalty throws or time penalties.

Underwater Rugby is the only true 3-D sport where players are not only on one horizontal plane but can also be above or below. It is not only a great sport to keep fit for divers and everyone who enjoys being underwater and is a great way to improve confidence and orientation underwater, but it is also a very competitive sport with international tournaments and world championships.