Cover photo by Marcia Riederer and Russell Charters
Underwater rugby is a full contact sport played in a deep pool with two teams of players aiming to score goals by placing the ball into the opponent’s basket, located at the bottom of the pool at each end of the playing area.
Background on the sport – where did it start, and why
Underwater Rugby began in Germany in the 1960s. There have been a few different stories thrown around as to why it began, but I think the most agreed upon is that it was created as an activity to keep scuba divers fit in winter.
Since then it has successfully spread throughout the majority of Europe. Celine Steinfeld a player on the Australian Womens UWR team traveled to Sweden in 2007 for a university exchange semester. She started playing the sport whilst she was over there and then brought it back to Australia on her return. The sport officially began in Australia in 2007 when she returned to Sydney.
How many people are active in the sport?
In Australia there are currently approximately 300 people who are registered (with Underwater Rugby Australia) to compete in the national competitions. The actual number of people engaging in the sport at a club level is likely to be quite a bit higher.
For the Australia Women’s Underwater Rugby Team, approximately 60 ladies trialed for the team during the two year selection process. 15 players were selected to travel to Austria to represent Australia in the World Championships.
Is Underwater Rugby an Australia wide/International Sport?
Yes this sport is both Australia wide and international. In Australia there are club teams in Brisbane (two clubs), Melbourne (two clubs), Sydney (two clubs), Townsville, Canberra, Adelaide, Tasmania, Port Lincoln (South Australia) and Perth.
The sport is also popular internationally. The top international teams are currently Norway (1st in World Champs 2015), Germany (2nd in World Champs 2015) and Colombia (3rd in World Champs 2015) for the men and Germany (1st), Norway (2nd), Colombia (3rd) for the ladies.
Other prominent countries where the sport is played include: Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Venezuela, Spain, France, United Kingdom, USA, Italy, Turkey, Austria, Canada, Finland, Slovakia, Finland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Hungary and Singapore.
Who are the key players?
In Australia for the ladies there are a couple of key players in terms of the origins and growth of the Sport in Australia.
Celine Steinfeld (also a member of the Ladies National Team) first brought the sport to Australia from Sweden after playing there whilst on a University Exchange. She first brought the sport to her hometown, Sydney, before it expanded throughout the rest of Australia.
Charlotte Jordans in the Captain of the Australian ladies team. She began playing in Denmark as a teenager before moving to Australia to live here with her Australian husband. She moved to Adelaide and started the Adelaide White Pointers UWR Club. She is very experienced and has competed in three Underwater Rugby World Championships, representing Australia and Denmark.
Internationally in the ladies competition, Germany, Norway and Colombia are the top teams to beat. Freydick Corrales (from Colombia) is the current coach of the Australia women’s team. He has played and coached in Colombia and moved to Australia in 2016.
When is the next big match?
The Underwater Rugby World Championships will take place between July 25th until July 3rd in Graz, Austria. Both the Australian Men’s and Women’s team will be competing there and we are leaving in about 2 weeks to acclimatise. The World Championships take place every four years. The last took place in Cali, Colombia in 2015.
Following this, the Champions Cup is taking place in Berlin, Germany in November. This competition is open to the top club team from around the world. The club team must have won their countries national competition to qualify to compete at the Champions Cup. This year in November the Brisbane Unidive Gauls will head to Germany to compete in the Champions Cup as we came 1st in the Australian Underwater Rugby Nationals in June.
Many thanks to Hannah Barrenger for all her help, and advice in the preparation of this article!
Time is running out! It’s less than 2 weeks until our amazing raffle is drawn!!
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For more information about Underwater Rugby, be sure to check out the following links!
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