East Haven Makos ready to host the 16th NA League Underwater Rugby tournament

The North American League continues with its 16th edition on the weekend of February 18-19th. This time on a new venue for the NA League, but an old timer for Underwater Rugby in the USA. The East Haven Makos from East Haven Connecticut are the hosting their first NAL event, but for many years they have participated in different ways as one of the most collaborative clubs in the US since their location is almost midway between other two centers for UW Rugby in the US, Boston and New Jersey.

The 16th NA League tournament is also the second round for the 2016/17 NAL Season which is being lead by the NUWR team from Newark NJ with 4 points, following by The Boston Narwhals with 3, and the Florida Krakens with 2.


This edition will have the participation of eight teams (7 clubs) and the USA ladies team that is staring their preparation for the following WC in 2019. participating Clubs are:

  • Boston Narwhals (MA-USA)
  • Florida Krakens (FL-USA)
  • New Jersey Hammerheads (NJ-USA)
  • CAMO (QC-Canada)
  • East Haven Makos (CT-USA)
  • USA Ladies (USA)

Follow this event on Facebook at @USA.UWR  and @makosuwr

Team USA U-21 Successfully debuted internationally

For the first time ever, the US  sent an Underwater Rugby team of juniors to the 12th Open  European Championship for Juniors in Sandefjord, Norway, hosted by the Norwegian Diving Federation and Sanctioned by CMAS.

Team manager and player Mateo Galeano along with coaches Filip Mundt and Alexander Larvat set the first ever U-21 team to participate internationally with the goal of preparing and give these young players international exposure and get to see first hand the level of their game compared to other U21 teams as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Turkey, Colombia, Germany

Despite the results, team USA U21 make an extremely good impression on opponent teams as well as people of the media as seen on the livestream from the US games. Commentators were really impressed with the good level of game played by the US team .

Tomas Galeano got ranked 12th in the top scorer’s list along with other US players Juan Pablo Riomaña and Alexander Hilsamer.

US U21 players:

Daniela Bedoya (Makos), Laura Bedoya (Makos), Juliana Castaño (NJ Hammerheads), Juan Jose Echeverry (NJ Hammerheads), Kervin Franco (Makos), Mateo Galeano (Boston Narwhals), Tomas Galeano (Boston Narwhals), Bryan Gutierrez (Makos), Carlos Gutierrez (NJ Hammerheads), Reuben Hernandez (NUWR) , Alexander Hilsamer (NUWR) , Eryk Kicak (Makos), Carlos Lemos (NJ Hammerheads), Bryan Mosquera (NUWR) , Juan Pablo Riomaña (NJ Hammerheads), Lesly Rojas (Makos).

Game Scores available here: http://wp.me/P241bZ-2w


Road to Norway fundraiser tournament

The East Haven Makos Underwater Rugby will be hosting a 6×6 fundraiser tournament to help the first ever USA U-21 team to participate later this year in the Open Junior European UW Rugby Championships in Norway.

The tournament will be held on Saturday September 10th, from 8:30am to 5:00pm at the Old High School Pool at 200 Tyler Street East Haven, CT 06512

More details on the following link and invitation below




Results from the 14th North American UW Rugby Tournament – Toronto 2016

The third and last round of the 2016 North American League (NAL) for Underwater Rugby was played this past weekend August 20-21 in Toronto, Canada during the 14th NA UW Rugby Tournament.

Club Toronto Underwater Rugby hosted the event in a new and spectacular venue just in front of Lake Ontario. The Donald D Summerville Olympic Pool.

The Rugby weekend started with a Referee’s clinic by CMAS Referees Kajsa and Manuel Tito de Morais who joined the North American League for the second time, followed by a short friendly game on Friday night.

Saturday competition began with a Round Robin between the two host teams (Toronto Raccoons and Toronto Seals), Club Camo from Montreal and two teams from the US: the defending Champion NUWR, and the runner-up club in the NAL League, the New Jersey Hammerheads both from Newark, New Jersey. The other US team Boston Narwhals cancelled their participation.

The American teams dominated the round robin. NUWR won all their games followed by the NJ Hammerheads over Club CAMO from Montreal and the Toronto teams.

After a nice day of UW rugby the event moved to the beach on Lake Ontario for a delicious picnic animated by magician Alberto who is a key player of the Toronto Club.

Sunday morning began with the semifianls between NUWR and Toronto Racoons on which NUWR confirmed their spot in the final. Club CAMO played against the NJ Hammerheads losing 2-4 so the two canadian teams would play for the 3rd place game while the two visiting teams from the US will play the final game as a re-match of the Florida final earlier this year.

Club CAMO beat the Toronto Raccons 4-2,  securing the 3rd place on an heroic game with only seven players and after being down on the score twice 0-1 and 1-2. The final game was as always vibrant but this time the victory was for NUWR over the NJ Hammerheads by 4-1.

All the results of the 14th NA UWR tournament here

Picture 390

4th & 5th Place – Toronto Raccoons & Toronto Seals



3rd Place – CAMO (Montreal, QC)

Picture 403

2nd Place – New Jersey Hammerheads (Newark, NJ)


1st Place – NUWR (Newark, NJ)

The 14th North American Tournament was the last round of the 2016 Season of the North American League. NUWR became the best US team of the League just over the NJ Hammerheads in second place, while Club CAMO ended in 3rd place being the best canadian team of the League.

Ranking NAL 2016-3


The new Season 2016-17 will have four rounds starting October 22-23, with the 15th North American UW Rugby Tournament – Newark 2016. Invitation to follow

Enlarged final toronto





Follow the 14th North American UW Rugby Tournament from Toronto, Canada – August 20-21

During this upcoming weekend (August 20-21st) the club Toronto UWR will host the 14th North American Underwater Rugby Tournament – Toronto 2016. This event is the third and final round of the 2016 season for the North American League UWR.


The North American League UWR comes to Toronto for a second time but now to a new promising venue right by Lake Ontario near downtown. The Donald D Summerville Pool has three pools and one of them is a 5mt diving well with its own stadium style bleechers.

Six teams from Canada and the US will compete for the 14th North American UWR tournament and the 2016 NAL Champion title.

Confirmed teams: Canada: Toronto Raccoons, Toronto Seals, CAMO Rugby Sousmarin (Montreal) USA: Boston Narwhals, New Jersey Hammerheads and NUWR

Ranking NAL 2016-2


13th North American UW Rugby Tournament Montreal 2016 Results

Club Camo Rugby Sousmarin hosted the past weekend May 21-22 2016, the 13th Edition of the North American Underwater Rugby Tournament that also served as the second of  a total of three rounds for the North American UW Rugby League 2016.

Six teams participated on this round of the League which was especial for the very even level of play for most of the teams, closed and exciting games, as well as a new champion club for this round after a five in a row wins by the New Jersey Hammerheads.

Camo and Toronto UWR were the clubs representating Canada. On the U S side the NJ Hammerheads, Boston UWR and NUWR participated along with the orphans team (mixed team) with players from different clubs.


The tournament started with an exciting match between the finalists from the previous NA tournament played in Florida earlier this year. The New Jersey Hammerheads played against the NUWR team, both clubs from Newark NJ. The known rivals ended in a very close game with a victory for NUWR by 2-1.

CAMO had a full team and as the host it was one of the the favorite teams to win this tournament. Camo ended the round robin with 5 victories, two of them on closed games against NUWR (2-1) and the NJ Hammerheads (3-2)

NUWR classified to the final game with 4 victories out of 5 round robin games. NUWR got victories over the Orphans team which had a lot of new players and a few experienced players and another victory on a closed game over Boston (2-1) and the NJ Hammerheads.

Boston had a full team and got the third place on the round robin with 3 victories and 2 defeats, qualifying for the 3rd place Game against the NJ Hammerheads that only got two victories.

In this edition a special mention to the Toronto team that showed a big improvement in their game level despite their loses and final 5th place.


The game for the bronze was played between Boston UWR and the NJ hammerheads. The Hammerheads with a couple of players down and a few new players did a great effort but lost against Boston by 4-0 which ha d a full and very strong team.

CAMO and NUWR played the final game of the tournament. The final was a very exciting and close game with break away’s, and dangerous plays on both goals. With a couple of minutes left NUWR caused a mistake on CAMO’s defense, and the NJ team scored on an empty basket. NUWR continued attacking and got a penalty shot awarded but CAMO’s goalie saved the penalty shot. At the end the victory by 1-0 gave the team from Newark, NJ their first NA tournament championship.

Full tournament Results here


Final positions: 1st NUWR, 2nd CAMO, 3rd. Boston, 4th NJ Hammerheads, 5th Toronto, 6th Orphans.

The top scorer team award was for club CAMO with 32 goals on 6 games

Best team defense award was for Club CAMO with only 6 goals against on 6 games

Top scorer player award was for CAMO’s Cesar Florez with 11 goals. Second place for Edwin Alzate (NUWR) and Rolexi Pinzon (NJ Hammeheads) with 7 goals each and third place for Felipe Rodriguez (NUWR), Marco Cardona (CAMO) and Mike Picot (Boston) with 6 goals.

The 14th North American UWR Tournament is scheduled for August 20-21 in Toronto, ON. This tournament will be the 3rd and last round for the North American League UWR 2016.

RefsEspecial thanks to Timmy Burke, Philip Mundt and Cesar Florez for organizing the referee’s clinic and having for this tournament the top level referees Kajsa Lindman and Manuel Tito de Morais (CMAS referees).

US and Canadian clubs want to thank Kajsa and Manuel for their very important participation and guidance. Without a doubt the referee clinic and the experience of seeing and being referees along high level referees will make our sport better and better every day.



12th North American UW Rugby Tournament in Islamorada Florida Results

The newly created Florida Keys Underwater Rugby Club, known as the Florida Keys Krakens, hosted for the first time the North American League UW Rugby tournament on its 12th edition. The tournament organizers Nicole and Alana came back from their participation on the 10th CMAS UWR World Cup in Cali Colombia with the solid idea of putting together the UW Rugby team for their club (originally an UW Hockey club) and after some discussions with other US and Canadian teams they had the go to organize the first UWR tournament in Florida.

The event was an instant success due to the cold winter time since most of the NAL teams are from the East coast and Canada. The 12th edition has become a milestone on the North American UWR League with the record participation of 10 teams, including a team for the newly created USA-U21 program whose players were also allowed to play their respective club games.

Canadian Teams:  Liberation/ Toronto UWR (Brantford/Toronto, ON) – CAMO (Montreal, QB)

USA teams:  Boston UWR (Quincy, MA) – New Jersey Hammerheads (Newark, NJ) – NUWR (Newark, NJ) – East Haven Makos (East Haven, CT) – Florida Keys Krakens A (Key Largo, FL) – Florida Keys Krakens B (Key Largo, FL) – San Francisco Giant Sea Bass (San Francisco, CA) – USA U-21

Florida keys krakens UWR  Camo2   SF_underwater_rugby_logo_v1   Torontologo 4   East haven Makos  NUWR  Boston

The teams were divided in two groups based on the ranking from the last NAL tournament. The top two teams from each group advanced to the semifinals. Group A was dominated by the reigning champion  and undefeated during the group play,  the New Jersey Hammerheads with the surprising second place of the San Francisco Giant Sea bass team who managed to win several games with only 8 players but a high level of play. Group B was dominated by the undefeated NUWR team and the second place was secured by Boston UWR.

Semifinals was played by NJ Hammerheads who defeated San Francisco with a clear 5-0 score and the other semifinal was NUWR who defeated Boston on a very tight match 2-1 to access the final against NJ Hammerheads.

The final was also the closest final match ever in the North American League. The regular time ended with a 1-1 tie and an extra time was played to look for the tournament champion. Near the end the NJ Hammerheads scored but the goal was not counted because a foul against the NUWR goalkeeper. At the end of the extra time series of penalties was the next step to break the tie, but they ended 2-2. With the single penalties series, the game came to an end with the last penalty shot scored by the NJ hammerheads and the last penalty shot saved by the Hammerhead Goalie. Final Score NJ hammerheads 1 (3) – 1(2) NUWR.

The New Jersey Hammerheads kept the Championship title with this fifth in a row win. This tournament was the first of the four rounds for 2016 that will decide both the US and Canadian teams representing the two countries in the 2016 Champions Cup to be played late in this year in Berlin Germany.

Top scorer team and best defense were dominated by the NJ hammerheads as well as the tournament top scorer Daniel Naujoks. For tournament results see 12th NAL UWR Results

1st Place - New Jersey Hammerheads - Newark NJ

1st Place – NJ Hammerheads – Newark NJ

2nd Place - NUWR - Newark, NJ

2nd Place – NUWR – Newark, NJ







3rd Place - Boston UWR - Quincy MA

3rd Place – Boston UWR – Quincy MA

The tournament was a great success despite the unusual low temperatures in Florida and will add an important venue for future competitions. A great surprise was the level of play of both Florida Krakens teams that played for the 5th and 6th place of the tournament as well as the San Francisco Giant Sea Bass team that made it to the semifinal and ended on the 4th place.

The next NAL tournament will be hosted by Club CAMO from Montreal on May 21-22, 2016.

New Jersey Hammerheads win 11th North-American Underwater Rugby Tournament, Brantford, Canada

On 17-18 October 2015, six teams from the United States and Canada met to compete at the 11th North-American Underwater Rugby (UWR) tournament that was organized by the club Liberation at the Wayne Gretzky Sport Centre in Brantford, Ontario.

For the fourth time in a row, the New Jersey Hammerheads from Newark successfully defended their title and won the tournament undefeated. A mixed team from Camo (Montreal) and the Quincy Narwhals (Boston) finished second after a strong tournament performance and the team from Toronto—often referred to as the Racoons—obtained the third place. The Montreal-Boston team showed the strongest offense, scoring the highest number of goals, while sharing the title of best team with the best defense with the New Jersey Hammerheads.

12thNA-UWRT_Brantford_Best offense and best defense

The highest scoring player of the tournament was Daniel Naujoks (NJ Hammerheads), followed by Mateo Galeano, second place and Camilo Contreras and Gord Lemon,  shared the third place for top scorer.

This was the first North-American tournament after the UWR World Championships in July this year. The training efforts of many players on the US and Canadian side showed throughout the competition with increasingly matured playing schemes and strong physical performances by more experience as well as newer players.

Games in the Group Phase

The tournament started with a game between the defending champion, the New Jersey Hammerheads, and the East Haven Makos. Both teams were missing key players and had given a chance for younger and newer players to play alongside more experienced players. While the Hammerheads started with a team of six players, they quickly took control of the game. The final score of 11:3 in favor of the Hammerheads included the fastest goal of the tournament. After having received a goal, the Hammerheads player carrying the ball started at full speed and swam through the descending defense and scored a split second before the Makos’ goalkeeper was able to get into position.

The second game saw an encounter between the team Liberation from Brantford and the mixed team from Camo (Montreal) and the Quincy Narwhals (Boston). Liberation had given the chance to a few Underwater Football players from Winnipeg to play with them—more on their sport below. Both teams fought hard but the Montreal- Boston team was able to win with quick counter attacks and well coordinated team play 13:1.

In game 3, the Raccoons team from Toronto was able to secure a 12:1 win over the East Haven Makos. In the following match, team Liberation from Brantford and a team of players from Newark crossed fins. The Newark team had formed just a few days before the competition from New Jersey Hammerheads players to give players more time in the water during the tournament. The Newark team was able to finish with a clear 12:2 win over Liberation.

The last game in group A was held between the NJ Hammerheads and Toronto. Both teams played high-level rugby, rotated the ball, and came in strong on the opponents’ goal. However, especially in the second half, the Hammerheads were able to play very organized and finished the match beating Toronto 6:3, leading to the first place in group A.

The last game in group B was fought between Montreal-Boston and Newark. Montreal-Boston coordinated their attacks well, played on all levels of the pool, passing quickly from the surface to mid-water to the bottom. Newark played well but was overcome with a final score 10:3 in favor of Montreal-Boston, who finished as the leading team in group B.

Final tournament matches

In the afternoon, the three final matches of the tournament started with the game for the 5th place between the East Haven Makos and Liberation. The Makos pushed hard put Liberation was able to control more of the game and win the match and thus the 5th place with a final score of 8:3.

The teams from Newark and Toronto met in the game for the 3rd place. In a heated game during which both teams gave everything Toronto—who played with a full team, as opposed to a reduced Newark team—had more possession and won with a 6:3, leading to a deserved third place in this competition.

In the final, the New Jersey Hammerheads played the Montreal-Boston team. The two strongest teams of the tournament were each eager to finish the competition as the winner. Each side came in strong, changed quickly from defense to the offense game and vice versa. At halftime, Montreal-Boston led 2:1. In the overall clean game, a player from the Hammerheads was sent out for two minutes for repeated holding without a ball. One man down, the Hammerheads pulled together and were able to use a quick counter-attack in which the attacker faced the goalkeeper alone to equalize. In the end of the game, the Hammerheads recovered the ball at their goal, moved the ball with sprints from two players to the opposing goal. One attacker was able to pass the ball under the defender to his counterpart who was lying on the other side of the goal and who scored only 15 seconds before the final whistle. The final score was thus 3:2 and the New Jersey Hammerheads had won their fourth North-American Underwater Rugby tournament in a row.

12thNA-UWRT_Brantford_Games and results


Underwater Football

Thanks to underwater football players who had come from far-away Winnigpeg to get acquainted with UWR, on 18 October 2015, rugby players were introduced to this ‘sister discipline’. Underwater football is played in a few cities in Canada only but it has been around since the late 1960s. Players’ equipment is similar to rugby, involving caps, fins, masks and snorkels. However, instead of scoring in a basket on the bottom of the pool, the scoring zone is at the side of the pool, outside the water.

While the tactics and game showed some differences—for example, football players are not allowed to bring the ball the surface—the UW football players present in Brantford hoped that a team could be playing at a future UWR tournament.



USA and Canadian teams Brantford, Ontario 2015

I expect the US to amaze the world of Underwater Rugby the most in the years to come

Interview with Jim Nilsson (Sweden)

During the 10th CMAS Underwater Rugby World Championships that were held in Cali, Colombia from July 26 to August 1, 2015, the US men’s team played against the European powerhouse Sweden. On behalf of USA Underwater Rugby (UWR), Daniel Naujoks conducted an
interview with the Swedish player Jim Nilsson.

Swedish_UWR-Team5_Jim headshot

Jim Nilsson


Swedish UWR team

USA UWR: Arguably you are the most experienced player on the Swedish team. I  believe that you have played in the impressive number of five world championships thus far. Can you tell us a little about your history in the sport?

Jim Nilsson: Except for a break when
I was a teenager, I have been playing UWR since I was about 10 years old. I am 43 now—that means I have indeed played for some time. I have been very fortunate to have played with the Swedish national team at the highest level since I joined the team in 1997. As you said correctly, I had the privilege of participating in a total of five World Championships. Two of which the Swedish team left as world champions, one with a silver medal, one with bronze, and now, with the fourth place.

We also won two-times gold at a European championships, and a number of Nordic championships – a tournament between Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden that used to be held annually, but now it is organized every other year.

At the club level, I have played with Växjö, Felix (Gothenburg) and Triton (Malmö). And in the time I’ve played, we’ve been three times Swedish champions, and won the Champions Cup twice.

USA UWR: That is a very impressive rugby career that is reserved for few players. Have you had a chance to play against a US team before or was this encounter at the 2015 World Championship the first?

Jim Nilsson:I first met and played the U.S. national team in 2003, I believe, in Copenhagen. Then, you had a lot to learn. But, you did your thing with a high spirit and energy, made good friends with everyone, and have since shown a strong development.

USA UWR:What was your impression of the 2015 US team that you just played in the group phase?

Jim Nilsson: In Cali, the US team we met in the qualifying round was really something unexpected to us. While the final result tells one story, we as a team were quite frustrated after the game. Starting with a feeling that this was going to be a warm-up match for things to come, at the end of the game we all felt that something was not quite right.

USA UWR: Why was that?

Jim Nilsson: Team USA kept playing with furious energy throughout the game –something rarely seen for an underdog team. Really impressive! And your tactics paid off. Playing close to each other, with good passes, and intelligently backing out of tough situations, you made it very hard for us to get hold of the ball and to start playing the way we wanted – an offensive game around your basket. With a better defensive play, this tactic, which in my mind is rule #1 in UWR, and the energy of the team, you’re on a very good trajectory. With a couple of good individual scorers and a bit better defensive play around your own basket, you’ll for sure be in the upper half of the leaderboard at the next World Cup.

USA UWR: What is it that you take out of the game?

Jim Nilsson: As we as a team talked about the game afterwards, we all found it to be a fun game and that we in fact had learned a lot. Not to take things for granted, and that the best games are played against energetic opponents.I and the team really enjoyed playing Team USA and we’re looking forward to meeting you in future championships. Of all teams, I expect the US to amaze the world of underwater rugby the most in the years to come.



Strong Performance by United States Underwater Rugby teams at the 2015 World Championships in Cali, Colombia

New York City — The United States men’s and women’s teams have surpassed all expectations at the 10th CMAS Underwater Rugby (UWR) World Championships that ended on August 1, 2015 in Cali, Colombia. Matched against strong opponents, the US teams were able to showcase the sharp rise of the sport in North America, not only in terms of the number of players and clubs but also the quality of the game. This report focuses on the men’s experiences and a report on the women’s team will follow soon.


Growing steadily stronger since the national tryouts:

Since US head coach Jose Luis Echeverry organized the first national tryouts in January 2015 for the Underwater Society of America (USOA), the team has developed into a strong band of players. “We had 42 candidates at the try-outs”, recollects Echeverry, ”and I knew that we’d get a good team together.” Since then, the US team organized five additional clinics to work on their coordination and strategic moves.

US teams had previously participated in two World Championships that are held every four years, namely in 1999 and 2003, when the games took place in Germany and Denmark, respectively. This year, the US men came well prepared and with a strong team spirit to the 10th World Championships. The team won most of their matches, showed skill and heart and convinced the traditional UWR powerhouses that much can be expected from the dynamic US team. Mike Picot, who played in the US selection in 2003 and 2015 said, “we already had good players in 2003. But this time, we really have a strong and versatile team we can be proud of.”

UWRWC_CALI_US Team Photos_2 (1)

2015 Team USA


A tough start for Team USA in the preliminary round

The World Championships presented themselves as a continuous improvement of the team’s strength. Due to a random draw in the group phase, the US men first faced two very experienced and strong opponents: Austria and Sweden, the majority of whose players also play in the elite European Underwater Rugby League (EUWR).

Given the structure of the championship the first game of the competition against the Austrian team was the tournament’s single most important match. Head coach Echeverry reminded the team to stick to the rotation system, to provide assistance and to trust in the strong fore-checking skills. But the US players were unable to get into their game and a strong Austrian team was able to score early in the game. To win the game, the US team had to play more offensively and hold the ball close to the Austrian goal. However, this tactic made the team vulnerable for counterstrikes and despite some strong attacks, the experienced Austrian players were able to exploit avoidable mistakes by the US team.

When the Austrian goalie pushed away American attacker Mike Picot who had stolen the goal just before the American received a pass that would have led to the deserved first goal of the team, the referees called a penalty shot against Austria. US defender Daniel Naujoks executed the penalty fast, getting quickly under the Austrian goalie and though the keeper brushed Naujoks’ mask away it took only 15 seconds before the ball was sunk decisively in the net.

When the match finished after 30 minutes, the score card counted 10:1 for Austria. In an interview about the first US goal in this competition, Naujoks highlighted that the team sold itself short. “We can play much better — maybe because it was the first game of the competition but for some reason, today wasn’t our day”, he said. The US team had come to Cali to show that they can exert pressure and score clean goals to win matches. It took only 48 hours before this prediction was proven right.


A good fight against Sweden

The next day, the US men were confronted with the Swedish team that had previously won against Austria with 9:0. US Coach Echeverry had made several adjustments to the team to avoid getting a goal through a fast break by the quick Swedes and to strengthen the team’s defense. The US men played strong and were able to control the ball for long stretches of the game, avoiding the aggressive fore-checking by their opponent.

Following several fouls by Sweden, Team USA was able to advance the ball in coordinated free-throws, bringing the Swedes several times in difficulties at the Swedish basket. When the final bell rang, Sweden had won 11:0 but the US team had made the Swedes fight for each goal and inch, showing to the traditional powerhouse that the sport is developing strongly in the United States. Austrian players who had watched the game against Sweden were overheard saying, “we were lucky that the US had not found into their game earlier. This is a very strong team that can be dangerous for any of the other teams here.” Arguably the most experienced player on the Swedish team, Jim Nilsson, who participated in a total of five World Championships, two of which he and his team left as world champions and one with a silver medal, commented on the games of the Swedish team against the US. “The [US] team we met in the qualifying round was really something unexpected to us,” he said. “Team USA kept playing with furious energy throughout the game – something rarely seen for an underdog team. Really impressive. And your tactics paid off. Playing close to each other, with good passes, and intelligently backing out of tough situations, you made it very hard for us to get hold of the ball.” Looking into the future, Nilsson stated that “Of all teams, I expect the US to amaze the world of underwater rugby the most in the years to come.”


Strong US triumphs with a clear 20:0 win over South Africa

As only the first two teams of each group advanced to the play for the top 8 ranks, the US men joined the group playing for places 9-12. “With different opponents in the group phase, we would have played in the best-8 group”, said head coach Echeverry, “but there’s always an element of luck in competitions. That’s just part of the game.” But the US team was eager to show that each match mattered, starting with the first team they faced in the final round: South Africa. The South African team had already played the 2011 World Championships in Finland with strongly spirited players who were eager to represent African rugby.


Teams USA and South Africa together after their WC match

By this third game of the competition, the US men had fully found into their game. Hungry to win, it took the US only a little more than a minute to score the first goal. The team rotated the ball well, and came in strong with several attackers to score a total of 20 goals, while keeping their net clean. Two of the goals were penalty shots as the South African keeper had the shoulder in the goal. The first penalty shot was executed once again by Daniel Naujoks who delivered quickly and in a similar way as against Austria. US forward Mateo Galeano took the second penalty shot. He came in vertically from on top of the basket and while almost scoring through a hole the keeper had presented, the goalkeeper was able to lay his hands on the ball. With determination, Galeano went after the keeper and before the goalie could reach surface—and thus successfully save the penalty—the attacker had again gained possession of the ball. Both players turning around, the goalkeeper was able to strip the ball again from Galeano just before he could sink the ball in the net. In a remarkable attempt, the US striker once more went for the goalie, got hold of the ball, stayed down and was able to score in a penalty that had kept the audience on their toes. In honor of the team’s first victory during this World Championship, the players proudly lined up on the ‘dimly seen shore’ of the Alberto Galindo pool when the US national anthem sounded loudly, amplified by the players’ voices after ‘the perilous fight.’


3 more points for Team USA after a win over a strong Australian team

On the fourth day of the World Championships, Team USA faced Australia. The Australian men were well conditioned and physically strong. Many of them had come to Colombia a month ahead of the championship to train with the best Colombian teams. Australia had played well against Spain the previous day, almost defeating the Spanish players.

In the match against Australia, the US men presented an organized game, controlling the ball, defending strongly, and going aggressively after the ball. But this sport teaches us that a brief slip in a team’s attention can be punished. Thus, in the middle of the first half, Australian forward Justin Bees managed to break-away with the ball from mid-field and lay the ball in the open net just before the US keeper reached the goal. Thus, Bees, who lives in Colorado and regularly plays with US teams, put Australia with 1:0 in the lead.


Men’s team USA celebrate after hearing the National Anthem for the second time.

Now the US was under pressure to show that they can score when needed. A goal can always change the dynamics of the game. But the experienced US team kept their calm, believing in the team’s strength. Defender Daniel Lopez said after the game, “we knew that we just had to focus, pull together, and play our game. And that’s exactly what we did.”

Shortly afterwards, the US offense went in strong. US goalie Giancarlo Castro brought the ball in from the safe corner, keeper and coach Jose Echeverry made the first attempt to score and passed to Daniel Lopez who equalized the score to 1:1. US Capitan Giancarlo Castro recalls, “that was an important goal, but we wanted to score more, and we knew we could.” In the second half of the match, the US team dominated and had several chances to score without converting them. It was then that Daniel Naujoks was able to shove the ball from above the goal passing the Australian keeper’s head, leading to the winning score of 2:1.

Thus, after the fourth match of the United States Underwater Rugby team, the players joined in as the US anthem sounded over the competition pool for the second time.


Third victory in a row after Team USA overcomes Spain

The last match for team USA would decide whether US or their Spanish opponent would be in the 9th place. As had the US, Spain had also won against South Africa and Australia. Given the better goal difference, the US would have prevailed in the overall ranking if the teams had tied. But team USA was not keen on a draw. “Many of us have played the Spanish players at the Champions Cup last year”, said head coach Echeverry before the match. “Then, we drew and won in the penalty shoot out. Now we want to win by making goals in the regular time. If we play our game, I know we can do it.”


Spain join team USA after the final match for the 9th place.

But the Spanish would not grant an easy victory. In an evenly matched game, both teams played strong rugby and made no mistakes. After an intense press play by the US players around the Spanish basket it was forward Mateo Galeano to score the winning goal. While the US team had a few additional chances to strike again and also the Spanish team came once close to the American net, the match ended with a deserved 1:0 victory for the US men.

The third time in a row, the US players lined up arm in arm to the tune of the Star-Spangled Banner. Deviating from the normal protocol, and in a display of mutual respect for a good last game for the 9th place of this World Championship the Spanish players joined the US team on their side of the pool for the US national anthem.


US players keep their head high: We’re coming back even stronger in 2019

Carol Rose, president of the Underwater Society of America (USOA), the governing federation for underwater sports in the US, including underwater rugby, and a charter member of the US Olympic Committee, congratulated the performance of both US teams at the World Championship. “Underwater rugby has had a great growth spurt”, she stated, “Teams are now active in Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and California.” Optimistically, she concluded “I can see only upward and forward action for underwater rugby.”

Rüdiger Hüls, president of World Underwater Federation CMAS’ UWR Commission that organized the World Championships, praised the strong US participation and the team’s quality play. Several team captains and coaches expressed that they look forward to competing against Team USA. Overall, the American rugby players were considered a strong international team that has the technique and strength to play at the highest level.

Many players voiced that they were looking forward to playing US teams at the annual Champions Cup and several teams suggested that the US team would be predestined to organize a high-level competition, such as open Pan-American championships.


For the time being, the US men’s team leaves the World Championship with their heads held high. They have played strong opponents, won more matches than they lost, scored more goals than they received and demonstrated the increasing sophistication and quality of the game in the US. “This experience was invaluable for the development of UWR in the US”, said team manager and defender Rolexi Pinzon, who also serves as USOA’s assistant director for underwater rugby. “We also enjoyed the press coverage, both here in Colombia where we participated in a live TV show and gave many interviews, but also in the US media. Several groups of fans also watched the games live in California, Texas, New York and Boston. This is an important moment for us”, Pinzon clarified and added, “we are also very grateful to the US women’s team whose support during our matches was amazing; as we tried our best to support them during theirs.”

But the players were certain that the team would come back much stronger for the next world championships in 2019 that will be organized in Italy. “We’ll be even faster, stronger, and more organized by then — you just wait and see”, said coach Echeverry. “But for now, it’s time to celebrate today’s success. We can be proud of what we achieved here in Cali”, he added and smiled.

Daniel Naujoks

USA UWR Press Officer


Stats men’s Team USA

Game States (* = win)

US – Austria: 1:10

US – Sweden 0:11

US – South Africa: 20 :0*

US – Australia: 2:1*

US – Spain: 1:0*


Goal Stats

Goals scored: 24

Goals received: 22

Final rank: 9th