Underwater rugby is as rough as it sounds--a grueling test of lungs, legs, and a player's ability to get kicked in the face and to keep on swimming.
Twelve players (six competing, six substitutes) per team battle tooth, nail + flipper to gain control of the weighted ball. Players use snorkels to hover on the surface of the water, to catch their breath and scope out when to dive down into the game. Instead of uprights in land rugby, the goal for swimmers is to place the ball into the opponents' metal basket, which sits on the floor of the 10 foot deep pool. Teams distinguish each other by water polo caps with ear protectors. This intense game lasts for 30 minutes (two 15-minute periods).
Timing is everything. Players have to get into a groove of cycling teammates, conserving air at the surface and sensing when a teammate needs to sacrifice the ball for air. While the men thrive on a size advantage, the women can use their small bodies to wiggle out of wrestling matches underwater. Players are often kicked, punched, bruised, knocked out unconscious, or banged up with a bad case of swimmer's ear.
Though the Germans invented the sport, underwater rugby is played around the world, from Colombia, to Norway, Russia and the United States. The next Rugby World Championships will be held in 2015.