What is underwater rugby?
Underwater rugby is a contact sport played in the deep end of a swimming pool. Two teams of six players try to place a negatively buoyant ball into baskets on the bottom of the pool. Non violent contact between players is permitted if, and only if, one of the player is in possession of the ball. Players are allowed to wear free-diving equipment, including masks, snorkels and fins.
International competition has being happening since the 1970's, and national competition in the USA since the 2000s. The sport was founded in Europe and has a strong following among European nations. The national governing body for our sport is the Underwater Society of America, the international governing body, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee, is the World Underwater Federation (aka CMAS). The official rules can be found on WUF's website.
The following video has a great overview of the game and rules:
Who are you?
San Francisco Underwater Rugby is a California non-profit Corporation. The club was founded 2012 and incorporated in 2018. Our current volunteer leadership team is: Douglas Puett, Balázs Nagy, and Cyrus Katrak. Our mission is to secure the opportunity to play and develop the sport of underwater rugby, in the San Francisco Bay Area, in order to train local athletes for national and international competition. We have trained athletes to participate in CMAS World Championships, CMAS Americas Cup, USOA National Championships, North American League Tournaments, and Berlin Champions Cup, among other competitive events.
Is this dangerous?
Swimming and breath holding is inherently dangerous for unskilled and uninformed participants. Underwater rugby's rules are strictly enforced at our events, those rules are designed to prevent drowning and violence. The safest breath holding techniques, such as a complete avoidance of hyperventilation, are actively instructed to our membership. Though this is a contact sport, water absorbs a lot of impact and we believe that collision risk is substantially lower in the water. Our most common injuries are scrapes and bruises followed by finger sprains. Our club maintains lifeguard certification and insurance in accordance with the requirements of the facilities at which we operate.
Is it hard?
Yes, if you are not a strong swimmer, water-polo player, free-diver, or generally aquatic person. Learning to fin-swim and use a snorkel are the largest obstacles for competent surface swimmers. Playing a sport in three dimensions can be disorienting for some people. We find it takes a couple months on average to overcome these initial hurdles. Beyond the basics there are many skills required to perform at a high level; cardiovascular fitness, stamina, speed, strength, ball handling, teamwork and strategy. As with many pursuits, mastery can take a lifetime.
I'm not a great swimmer, can I still play?
New players must be able to swim at least 250 yards (10 laps of a standard length pool) unassisted, before joining us. Being comfortable and capable in the water is a safety requirement.
Is it competitive?
Our mission is to train and compete at the national and international level. At present we have a wide range of skill and interest levels and encourage beginners to join us.
I'm a new player, how do I get started?
Fill out our signup form, and then show up to practice with a towel and swimsuit, we'll help you with the rest.
How much does practice cost?
New players play for free for their first few practices. Regular players are asked to pay dues on a per practice or quarterly (3 month) schedule. The cost varies depending on our current pool and insurance rates among other factors. Expect to pay somewhere between $10-$30 per practice.
What equipment do I need?
We have a limited set of spare gear for new players. Eventually you will need at least the following: A set of swim suits (one light, one dark), a set of water polo caps (light/dark), fins, a mask and a snorkel. See our equipment page for details.
Do I have to wear a tight swimsuit (Speedo)?
No, but it will make you faster if you do!
I can't make it to the pool easily, can I get a ride?
Many of our members carpool, ask around, or mention this on the new player signup form.
Will we eat Pho and drink beer after practice?
My magic 8-ball says: "Outlook good".