|Highest governing body||CMAS|
|First played||1961, Cologne, Germany|
|Team members||12 (6 in play)|
|Mixed-sex||Yes, except at elite levels|
|Equipment||diving mask, snorkel, fins, water polo cap.|
Underwater rugby (UWR) is an underwater team sport. During a match two teams try to score a negatively buoyant ball (filled with saltwater) into the opponents’ goal at the bottom of a swimming pool. It originated from within the physical fitness training regime existing in German diving clubs during the early 1960s and has little in common with rugby football except for the name. It was recognised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) in 1978 and was first played as a world championship in 1980.
It is played under water in a pool with a depth of 3.5m to 5m and goals (heavy metal buckets with a diameter of about 40 cm) at the bottom of the pool. Two teams (blue and white), each with six players (plus six substitutes), try to score a goal by sending the slightly negatively buoyant ball (filled with saltwater) into the opponents’ goal. It is a fast and exhausting game; therefore, the subs replace their players on the fly.
The ball may be passed in any direction but must not leave the water. It "flies" about 2m or 3m before water resistance stops it. This makes good tactics and good (three-dimensional) positioning essential. The players need all sorts of different abilities: strength, speed, agility or good teamplay are all similarly important.
In 1961 a member of the German Underwater Club (DUC) in Cologne, Ludwig von Bersuda, came up with the idea of an underwater ball game. Air-filled balls are not suitable for underwater games, as they are buoyant and always return to the surface. The first underwater ball was invented when Bersuda filled the ball with saltwater. Since the density of the ball was now greater than that of normal water, it no longer floated to the surface, but slowly sank to the bottom. The sink rate could, within certain limits, be controlled by the concentration of the salt solution. As footballs are too large to be practical, waterpolo balls are used.
Ludwig von Bersuda spanned the middle of the pool with a net, as in volleyball, that stopped 1 m above the pool bottom. Two teams played against each other: the offensive team had to carry the ball to the opposing field and put it into a bucket. The idea for the game was ready, and the DUC Cologne used it to warm up before normal training. Other teams saw this and started to use saltwater-filled balls themselves.
The "Cologne Discipline" was demonstrated as a competition sport at the national games in 1963, probably the first official game with an underwater ball. At the time, though, there was not much interest shown.
Dr. Franz Josef Grimmeisen, a member of the German Underwater Club in Duisburg, a city near Cologne, decided to make a competitive sport from this ball game. The German Lifeguard Association ( DLRG ) of Mülheim (since 1967 TSC Mülheim/Ruhr) had founded a divers' club, and through contact with members of DUC Duisburg learned of the game. With their help, Grimmeisen arranged the first underwater rugby game on Sunday October 4, 1964. It took place between DLRG Mülheim and DUC Duisburg. DUC Duisburg won the game 5–2. The next edition of the Essener Tageblatt carried the story.
Grimmeisen kept promoting the ideas of an underwater rugby tournament to give the sport a character of serious competition. Together with the scuba-diving section of the DUC Mülheim/Ruhr, to which six players of DUC Duisburg came, he organized the first underwater rugby tournament rules, and the "Battle for the Golden Ball" in Hallenbad Sued, in Mülheim/Ruhr. The premiere was on November 5, 1965. Six clubs sent teams to Mülheim: DUC Bochum; DUC Düsseldorf, DUC Duisburg, DUC Essen and TSC Delphin Lüdenscheid. The rules of those days allowed 8-player teams, and DLRG Mülheim, the home team, came away winners, against DUC Duisburg (for whom Dr. Grimmeisen played).
The tournament has been held every year since then, which makes it the oldest tournament in the history of the sport. The Cologne version of the game was only played for a short time thereafter in Cologne, and has been long since forgotten. The Cologne team itself also turned to underwater rugby. To bring this game to the international arena, Grimmeisen turned to the two then most important members of CMAS, France and the USSR. He offered demonstration games and press coverage. Interest was not forthcoming. Just one French sport magazine, L'Equipe , printed a short article in its April 9, 1965 edition.
The Scandinavian countries showed more interest, and adopted the ideas in relatively short time. A demonstration in Denmark in 1973 and in Finland in 1975 were effective. Games in Belgium in September 1973 and Vienna in 1979 were ineffective in generating interest. In the Eastern Bloc, only Czech teams were interested, and they, according to the politics of the time, played only against teams from other communist countries. The only tournament known to have taken place there is the Underwater Rugby Tournament in Prague, which has taken place every year since 1975 (with the exception of 1979). In later years, Polish teams participated as well, and teams from East Germany, who used the game for conditioning, sent observers.
Since 1972, when the game was recognized as a sport by the Union of German Sport Divers (VDST), official German Championships have taken place. (An unofficial German Championship took place in 1971.) The first German Championship was held in Mülheim, and the first German Champions were TSC Mülheim.
In 1978, underwater rugby was officially recognized by CMAS, and from 28 to 30 April 1978, the first European Championships took place in Malmö, Sweden, and from 15 to 18 May 1980, the first World Championships in Mülheim.
A different version of the current waterpolo became popular in the US, similar to underwater rugby, until US teams conformed to the international waterpolo rules around 2014.
The sport has little in common with rugby football except for the name.
The governing body is the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) Underwater Rugby Commission.As of June 2013, the following countries and territories have affiliated with the commission: Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America and Venezuela.
Major championships have been conducted at continental level within Europe for senior teams since 1978 and for junior teams since 1986. World championships have been conducted since 1980. A number of regional competitions are also conducted - these include the International Underwater Rugby Tournament and the Champions Cup in Europe and the North American Underwater Rugby Tournament in North America.
In the first season, the four strongest clubs of Europe take part in the Euroleague: Swedish Malmo, Norwegian Molde, Danish Flipper and Russian Betta. The first winner of the Eurleague, based on the results of three rounds - became the Norwegian Molde.
Underwater hockey (UWH), is a globally played limited-contact sport in which two teams compete to manoeuvre a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the opposing team's goal by propelling it with a hockey stick.
Finswimming is an underwater sport consisting of four techniques involving swimming with the use of fins either on the water's surface using a snorkel with either monofins or bifins or underwater with monofin either by holding one's breath or using open circuit scuba diving equipment. Events exist over distances similar to swimming competitions for both swimming pool and open water venues. Competition at world and continental level is organised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS). The sport's first world championship was held in 1976. It also has been featured at the World Games as a trend sport since 1981 and was demonstrated at the 2015 European Games in June 2015.
A water polo cap is a piece of headgear used in water polo and a number of underwater sports. The caps are used to identify both the player and their team, and to protect their ears from injury possibly caused by a water polo ball hitting the head.
Underwater sports is a group of competitive sports using one or a combination of the following underwater diving techniques - breath-hold, snorkelling or scuba including the use of equipment such as diving masks and fins. These sports are conducted in the natural environment at sites such as open water and sheltered or confined water such as lakes and in artificial aquatic environments such as swimming pools. Underwater sports include the following - aquathlon, finswimming, freediving, spearfishing, sport diving, underwater football, underwater hockey, underwater ice hockey, underwater orienteering, underwater photography, underwater rugby, underwater target shooting and underwater video.
Underwater Rugby started in the United States in 1979.
Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) is an international federation that represents underwater activities in underwater sport and underwater sciences, and oversees an international system of recreational snorkel and scuba diver training and recognition. It is also known by its English name, the World Underwater Federation, and its Spanish name, Confederación Mundial De Actividades Subacuáticas. Its foundation in Monaco during January 1959 makes it one of the world's oldest underwater diving organisations.
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Aquathlon is an underwater sport, where two competitors wearing masks and fins wrestle underwater in an attempt to remove a ribbon from each other's ankle band in order to win the bout. The "combat" takes place in a 5-metre (16 ft) square ring within a swimming pool, and is made up of three 30-second rounds, with a fourth round played in the event of a tie. The sport originated during the 1980s in the former USSR and was first played at international level in 1993. It was recognised by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) in 2008. Combat aquathlon practice training engagements not only under water, but also afloat, above the water surface, both with or without diving gear, utilizing dummy weapons or barehanded, combined with grappling and choking techniques in order to neutralize or submit the opponent.
The Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) is the governing body for underwater sports in Australia.
Sport diving is an underwater sport that uses recreational open circuit scuba diving equipment and consists of a set of individual and team events conducted in a swimming pool that test the competitors' competency in recreational scuba diving techniques. The sport was developed in Spain during the late 1990s and is currently played mainly in Europe. It is known as Plongée Sportive en Piscine in French and as Buceo De Competición in Spanish.
Underwater Target Shooting is an underwater sport/shooting sport that tests a competitors’ ability to accurately use a speargun via a set of individual and team events conducted in a swimming pool using freediving or Apnoea technique. The sport was developed in France during the early 1980s and is currently practiced mainly in Europe. It is known as Tir sur cible subaquatique in French and as Tiro al Blanco Subacuático in Spanish.
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The Underwater Orienteering World Championships is the peak international event for the underwater sport of underwater orienteering. The event is conducted on behalf of the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) by an affiliated national federation. The championships was first held in 1973. Currently, it is held every 2 years on years ending with an odd number.
The Underwater Rugby World Championships is the peak international event for the underwater sport of underwater rugby. The event is conducted on behalf of the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) by an affiliated national federation. The championships was first held in 1980.
Underwater photography is a scuba-based underwater sport governed by Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) where teams of competitors using digital underwater camera systems all dive at the same saltwater ocean sites at the same time over a two-day period. The submitted digital images are then assessed and ranked by a jury using a maximum of five photographic categories as well as an overall score. The sport was developed prior to 1985 as a photographic film-based event and is currently mainly practised in non-English speaking countries.
The Underwater Photography World Championships is the peak international event for the underwater sport of underwater photography. The event is conducted on behalf of the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) by an affiliated national federation. The championships was first held in 1985. Two variants of the championship are offered. The first is held at an open water site and has been conducted on 16 occasions as of November 2017. Its official title often includes the world ‘sea’ in order to distinguish it from the second which is held in a swimming pool. The swimming pool variant which is concerned with a number of creative categories has held twice with a third championship scheduled for Bari, Italy during 2004 being cancelled due to low competitor registration.
The 14th CMAS Underwater Photography World Championship was held from April 9 – 14, 2013 in Cuba at Cayo Largo. David Barrio of Spain was announced as the CMAS World Champion in underwater photography for 2013 and received the gold medal while runners-up Stefano Proakis and Michele Davino both representing Italy respectively received the silver and bronze medals.
Underwater rugby (UWR) has been played in Australia since 2007 and as of 2016 is played in every State and the Australian Capital Territory.
The Underwater Society of America (USOA) is the peak body for underwater sport and recreational diving in the United States.
The Underwater Hockey European Championships is a biennial tournament in underwater hockey organised by the sports global governing body Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS). The first event was held in the United Kingdom in 1985.