Underwater rugby is probably the most European sport ever. It was first played in Germany, the top teams (except for the Colombians) are from Europe, the largest league is the Euroleague, and the most important annual event is the Champions Cup in Berlin. This year, Molde won again for the 8th time while at the ladies the 6 times champion Germany won represented by first time champion Stuttgart/Weinheim.
It’s worth mentioning the fact that the international governing body, CMAS, does not own the rights of either the Euroleague or the Champions Cup which might explain why it is making no effort to make this sport known. On the other hand, it means that these events and organisations are made possible by the athletes themselves which I believe deserves a recognition.
Not that the sport itself should not be admired. The more I can compare it to polo or anything else the more I see the beauty in the intensity and complexity of underwater rugby. Some may see it as too tough but in my understanding, it’s only hard to start because swimming requires a lot of conditioning. Otherwise the tackles are impressive but harmless in the water, and once you get the hang of the 3D movement it becomes the most obvious thing on Earth.
The Champions Cup shows how the sport roots in Europe. The top 4 countries are Sweden, Finland, Norway and Germany. In 2004 the womens cup was introduced, where Germany and Norway are on the lead. 11 European countries such as Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Türkey, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, the Czech Republic and Russia sent teams together with ones from the USA and Colombia. Of course there are notable countries and events from every part of the world, but the core of the sport is in Europe.
If anyone takes all that jazz seriously about the Olympic Agenda how sports are supposed to bring people together, you get a fine example here. The Türkish teams are supporting the young Greek team and playing together with one of the Russian teams in the Euroleague, and so on. It’s one big family.
We have mixed gender teams and parents playing together with their children. The game is amazing and unlike any sport you could have ever tried before.
What I feel sorry about is how little recognition underwater rugby gets in Europe. A plexiglass pool funded by the EU to admire the sport would somehow carry the message that with unity and peace you get so far that you can compete in a diving pool instead of tearing each other apart. Or, maybe not, but at least you’ve tried and enjoyed it. Bottom line is, if you are reading this and have a thing for water sports or very tactical, super intense 3 dimensional teamsports, find the nearest club and give it a try.
And for those who play it already : you rock!
I know what you’ll be watching in January : Hungarian water polo and Hungarian army divers accepted the challenge of the first Hungarian UWR team. We will do our best to bring the matches to you!