10 June 2015

Two members of The University of Queensland community will dive into the 10th Underwater Rugby World Championships in Colombia in July.

Hannah Barrenger and Douglas Stetner have been selected to represent Australia at the world championships.

The two Australian teams – one male and one female – would be making history, as the first to compete in the world cup, said Ms Barrenger, who is studying for a Bachelor of Environmental Management at UQ.

“Underwater rugby is really new in Australia,” she said.

Underwater rugby originated in Germany in the 1960s and was designed to keep divers fit during the winter.

Today the three-dimensional, anti-gravity contact sport is played around the world, in countries including Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain and Colombia.

Players score a goal by placing the ball in a basket at the bottom of the pool, which is defended by a goalie.

Douglas Stetner, who works at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, said his involvement in UQ’s Unidive scuba diving club sparked his interest in underwater rugby.

“When I first came to Australia from Canada in 2002, I became involved in Unidive. Fourteen years on, I am still involved,” he said.

“We started out playing underwater hockey, and one of the club members brought along a rugby ball.

“That’s how underwater rugby started at UQ.”

The Australian team was formed through a national selection process.

Ms Barrenger said she was excited to play alongside a diverse group of athletes in the Underwater Rugby World Championships.

“I like competitive sport, swimming and being in the water, but the best part of it is that the group of people who play are really fun and it’s a really fun game,” she said.

The team has launched the Swim to Colombia campaign, seeking to raise $60,000 to send the team to the championships.   

View the team in action below: https://youtu.be/Sjxkk8VJBd0?t=25s

Media: Hannah Barrenger, 0400 204 034, Douglas Stetner, 0474 082 019. Underwater Rugby Australia: Eileen Francisco, 0431 604 164, efpublicity@gmail.com.