The first-ever international rugby tournament has come to London with representatives from 12 different countries involved.

Players from Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Singapore took part in an invitational side against the very first Team GB squad at Putney Leisure Centre on October 21.

The British side, hosted by Pure Underwater Rugby England (PURE), included people from Putney, Kew, Greenwich and Crystal Palace.

The hosts won the game 5-2.

Ben Aisbitt, PURE’s team captain, said: “We had a brilliant day with a total of 12 different nationalities taking part.

“The main purpose for tournament was to raise the profile of the game here in the UK.

“Not many people have heard about it. A lot of our members have played it abroad and joined us when they’ve come over to London for work.

“The next project for us is to try and get more British members so we can apply for the European championships.

“It’s important to stress that it’s a mixed sport and is open to all abilities - there is a position for every person.

“I heard about the sport on the radio and having been a swimmer in the past, and was looking for a new challenge.”

The objective of underwater rugby is to get the round ball, filled with saltwater to avoid it bobbing, into the opposition basket.

PURE is based in Putney and currently has 18 members who have travelled to underwater rugby tournaments all over the world.

It is believed underwater rugby originated in Germany during the 1960s and is now played in different continents around the world, involving two teams of six players at a time who wear masks, snorkels and fins.

Roy Sherwin, 68, is one of PURE’s founding members and is both a British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) diving and snorkelling instructor at its Teddington branch.

He said: “The tournament was a big success and ran very smoothly. Everyone turned out and we made it happen.

“This has been 12 months in the planning. It’s another stepping stone in raising the profile of underwater rugby here in UK.

“The idea is to develop the sport nationwide. We believe it will take around five to ten years to achieve that. As with most new things it can take a while for word to spread and for people to get round to giving it a go.

“People tend to shy away from new things but if you like snorkelling and are looking for something to do during the winter months then you should try it out.”

“You need a three-and-a-half to five-metre deep pool for tournaments, but if you can find a two to three-metre deep pool, then there is no reason why you can’t play.

“It goes without saying breath holding ability and fitness level improves with playing this sport. PURE can offer help and advice to anyone who wants to set up a team.”

To find out more about PURE, visit: