Imagine you are tearing down the rugby pitch and when you reach the try line, you dive…but instead of hitting the ground, you plunge into Lake Geneva.
This is not just a bizarre dream – water rugby has come to Switzerland. Over 20 teams competed in touch rugby tournaments on a floating pitch from Friday to Sunday (August 19-21).
With a slippery surface, spectators might not be surprised to see players falling into the water, but few perhaps knew that falling in was also intentional: in this five-a-side game of touch rugby, players must jump off the end of the pitch into Lake Geneva to score a try.
The event was organised by Water Rugby Lausanne to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lausanne University Rugby Club.
After a warm-up event on Friday (August 19), 21 teams of men and women competed in a tournament with games lasting fourteen minutes each.
The President of Water Rugby Lausanne, Mathieu Falbriard, also saw the event as a fun way of encouraging more women to play rugby. As such, the weekend included a one-hour free session open to all women.
“Women’s rugby is a little less well represented in Switzerland, so we wanted to take advantage of this platform to offer one hour of rugby for free to all women who want to try rugby in a very playful way,” said Falbriard.
All players accessed the pitch by a floating pontoon that moved from the shore to the pitch.
The pitch itself is 25 metres by 35 metres (27.3 by 32.8 yards) and it is made of floating blocks collected from a nearby port. The blocks were transported by boat to the site, joined together and covered in a special surface before rugby posts were added.
Yves Guignard was one of those brave enough to take the plunge. Yves participated in Friday’s (August 19) warm-up event, where sponsors put together mixed-gender teams. Employees competed in a mini water rugby tournament as a team-building exercise.
“I was quite surprised because it’s a really slippery surface. It’s a little more difficult to find your footing than on normal ground, but otherwise, it’s extremely fun. The water is good. There are good surprises and it’s a lot of fun to see people fall over the sides as well,” said Guignard.