Rugby goes underwater in Putney
Britain has a fine tradition for enjoying bizarre sports, so it should come as no surprise that the UK's first underwater rugby club has just been founded in Putney.
What is perhaps more surprising is this strange submarine activity has been in existence more than 50 years, after being created in Germany in 1961.
Pioneering of the sport here PURE Underwater Rugby held its first training session last month September at Putney Leisure Centre and is now looking for new members to join the team.
Rob Bonnar, the club secretary, said: "It is a niche sport and the lack of knowledge about it really holds people back at the moment.
"Traditional rugby is obviously great, but UNderwater Rugby has a big selling point as it is the only game in the world played in three dimensions. So, when you are planning a strategy in underwater rugby, you have to plan it in three dimensions."
He also emphasised that good players rely not just on strength and speed but also breath control and swimming technique, while the support from the water reduces the chances of stress injuries.
A World Cup is played every four year, with the last championships, held in Finland, seeing 14 nations from three continents battle it out for the trophy.
Norway took a clean sweep, winning both the men's final against Germany, and the women's tournament over Sweden
England has never had a team but PURE has already secured an invitation to take part in the World Alternative Games in September 1 in Wales next year.
Lessons cost £5 a week and potential underwater rugby players will also have to pay a membership fee of £12 to the British Sub Aqua Club.
Sessions are Thurdays, from 9.30pm to 10.30pm, at Putney Leisure Centre call 020 8785 0388 for more information.
UNDERWATER RUGBY RULES
Underwater rugby is played between two teams of 12 players, with the maximum of six players in the water per team at a time.
Positions are divided into two goalkeepers, two forwards, and two defenders.
Replacements may dive in only after the player is fully out of the pool.
Points are scored by placing the plastic ball fillled with salt water in baskets placed underwater on opposite sides of the pool.
The game consists of 15 minutes halves with a five minutes half time break
The pool depth must be between three-and-a-half and five metres.
The ball is allowed to break the surface but must not leave the water completely.
There should be at least three referees for each game - two located in the water, with scuba gear, and one on the surface.
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