Top 5 Roughest Ball Sports In The World


This article was first published on July 29th 2015

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The world of sport can be a rough place, especially if it’s any of these sports! No game is without its physical strains, but make the sport a contact one and throw any shape of ball in between two players, then sometimes there’s no telling how far they’ll go to get their hands on it!

Here we rank the top five roughest ball sports in the world!

5 – Gaelic Games

Two sports in one to begin this list – Tasty! Gaelic football and hurling are the native sports of Ireland, with each of the counties in the country battling it out for the Sam Maguire (football) and Liam McCarthy (hurling) cups. These two sports have always – and still are, of course – amateur games, which means players play for nothing but the love of the game and pride in the county they hail from.

At inter-county level, teams are comprised of players that come from the region, adding extra spice to proceedings when two local rivals go head-to-head! Below you’ll see an incredible 43 minutes of Gaelic football and hurling and its fiercest and most vicious! Skip to 9:15 to even see a referee get bloody!

4 – Rugby League

Rugby League is a faster sport than rugby union, with players crashing into each other with much more velocity! The spectacle of rugby league arguably reaches its peak every year when New South Wales “The Blues” and Queensland “The Maroons” battle it out in the State of Origin series.

The two teams, like Gaelic games, are comprised of players playing for the region they’re from, adding an extra spicy flavour to these fixtures! The series is a best-of-three format of local rivalry and hatred. Every year mass brawls break out, with all the niggly punches and hits that go on behind the referee’s back too!

3 – Australian Football

The AFL is a brutal sport, with the league even promoting the roughness of the sport publicly! In 2000 and 2002, the AFL released DVDs of 90 minutes of highlights of the best and wildest incidents that went on in games. ‘Biffs, Bumps, and Brawlers’ volumes one and two are still available to buy now!

It’s quite easy to see how two DVDs were made of the biggest fights in the sport. If anything, it’s strange that they haven’t released volume 3 yet!

Roughness in Australian footy stretches a long way back, and there’s even a brawls highlight reel from the 1970s online!

AFL and Gaelic football may be played on total opposite ends of the globe, but they aren’t that dissimilar in code. Ireland and Australia have in the past played out a compromise rules game, a sport half way between Gaelic and Australian football. And of course, it’s only natural that things would get a little feisty!

2 – Calcio Storico

You may not have heard about this ancient Italian sport before now, but if you’re a fan of physically brutal games, you’re going to love this one! 27 men line out for each team, with the objective of throwing the ball into the other team’s net.

And what do the 26 men not holding the ball do? Literally anything they can do to the other team. It’s basically a free-for-all full on fighting sport, with a ball somewhere in the middle of it all. Think UFC, but with 54 people fighting, and a ball somewhere that most players aren’t even thinking about.

1 – Water Polo

Most people wouldn’t watch water polo for four years, until the Olympic Games come round. An often overlooked sport, it’s easy to forget that these athletes are competing with incredible fitness levels, as everything they do comes with the added strain of being in water, obviously!

Water polo is one of the dirtiest sports out there, with so many sly punches, grabs, and pulls going on that the referees can do nothing about. Half of the fighting that goes on either on or off the ball happens under the water surface, meaning it’s so much more difficult to officiate, meaning players are much more likely to get away with these dirty tricks, meaning they’ll do these dirty tricks much more often! It’s simple when it’s spelled out like that.

This game also comes with the added ingredient of being very easy to literally kill somebody you’re fighting with, as it’s based in the water! You’ll never think about water polo in the same way again after watching these videos!

The video below is of a game so infamously vicious that they made a re-enactment of it for the cameras! Hungary vs Russia in the 1956 Olympics.

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