Underwater Rugby

underwater rugby

Underwater rugby is just like regular rugby, just in speedos and played a couple meters underwater. Sound fun? Here’s our guide to getting down and wet with Australia’s newest watersport.


Underwater rugby started in 1961, in the German Underwater Club in Cologne. Club member Ludwig von Bersuda invented the game as a training exercise for divers. Bersuda was also the one to invent the underwater ball, which is filled with salt-water. This means that, instead of quickly floating to the top like a regular air-filled ball, the underwater ball slowly sinks, making it optimal for underwater sports. Originally called the “Cologne Discipline”, it was demonstrated in the national games of 1963. It was met with a lukewarm response.

However, in 1964, Dr. Franz Josef Grimmeisen tweaked the game from being a training exercise into a competitive sport. Partnered with a couple other organisations, Grimmeisen then spread the sport across Germany and from there, Europe caught on, first in the East and then into the West and into the Americas. Now the sport is here in Australia.

How to play underwater rugby


To play underwater rugby, there are some essentials:

  • swimmers: usually speedos for males and a one-piece for females
  • mask and snorkel: helps you get up and catch your breath faster
  • fins: there’s a lot of swimming involved, having fins speeds up the game and means that players don’t puff out so quickly
  • water polo caps: to identify players


There are six players on each team in the pool at one time. The aim is to pass the ball around until you can score a goal by throwing the ball into one of the baskets in your opponent’s end. It’s a contact sport so pushing and shoving is part of the game.

Underwater Rugby in Australia

There are a couple clubs that play underwater rugby but the biggest one is the Underwater Club of the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

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