Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Hybrid Sports: A Beginner’s Guide Part One

What happens when certain elements from one sport combine with certain elements from another sport? The result is a Hybrid-Sport of course. For decades, people have been trying to meld together two or more sports in the hope of creating the next best thing since sliced bread. Some combos make sense due to their similarity and shared history, while others are just plain bonkers. On thing’s for sure, they will be alien to a lot of people, so let’s change that right now.

Hybrid Sports: A Beginner’s Guide Part One


Perhaps the most bizarre of these sports on paper combines the mental fortitude of chess with the physical brutality of boxing. Founded by Dutch performance artist Iepe Rubingh in the early 1990s, a typical “bout” consists of 11 three-minute rounds, which includes six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. Each round alternates between the two sports so that a match begins and ends with a round of chess.

Each player has nine minutes of chess playing time and breaks between chess and boxing rounds usually only last 60 seconds. The constant switching between a full-contact sport and a thinking sport wears down the athletes as the fight goes on. A chess-boxer needs to have a minimum Elo rating of 1600 in chess and to have fought at least 50 amateur bouts in boxing or other similar martial arts so a supreme, all-round competitor is required. A typical training session combines arduous physical activities (e.g. 400 metre sprints, push-ups etc) with games of speed chess.

Like boxing, the sport has multiple international governing bodies that award world title belts in varying weight divisions. These include the World Chess Boxing Organisation (WCBO), World Chess Boxing Association (WCBA) and Chess Boxing Global (CBG). Rubingh is himself a former WCBO world middleweight champion and explains the sport’s rise in the video below.


Composite Rules Shinty-Hurling

This combination at least makes more sense given the shared Celtic heritage between shinty and hurling. The sport, briefly mentioned in the beginner’s guide to Shinty a few weeks back, retains the basic fundamentals of both games, namely two teams of 14 ( 12 for Shinty and 15 for Hurling) trying to hit balls with sticks into the opposing goal.

The goalposts used are from Hurling, which is like a rugby goalpost but with football-style netting underneath the bar. Also like in Hurling, a shot which goes over the crossbar is worth one point. A shot which goes into the net and under the crossbar is worth three points. The main difference is the awarding of two points when a player hits a stationary ball straight from the ground (a free hit), or from more than 65 metres, and goes over the crossbar.

The sport’s showpiece event is the annual Shinty-Hurling International Series with the best Shinty players representing Scotland and the best Hurling players representing Ireland. Since 2010, it has been played as a two-test series with one match in Scotland and the other in Ireland. Each team plays with the stick from their own sport so the Scottish team use the caman (from Shinty) and the Irish team use the hurley (from Hurling). It is also normal to use a Shinty ball in one half and the Silotar from Hurling in the other half. Scotland won the 2015 series by 38 points to 30 on aggregate after Ireland had won the previous six. Here is a full-length rerun of the first test in Inverness, Scotland (apologies for the lack of sound).


International Rules Football

Another Irish sport is incorporated, but this time it’s Gaelic Football, which was melded together with Australian Rules Football. The intention was to create international representative matches between players from both sports.

The sport’s founders drew up a set of rules and regulations that would benefit both codes. For example, the use of a round ball and a rectangular field favours Gaelic Football players. Meanwhile the opportunity to tackle between the shoulders and thighs (banned in Gaelic Football) benefits the Aussie Rules players. Another element taken from Aussie Rules is the mark, where a free kick is awarded when a ball is caught from a kick of over 20 metres in a forward direction by a team mate. There are also 15 players on each team like in Gaelic Football (18-a-side in Aussie Rules) and a match lasts for 72 minutes (divided into four 18-minute quarters).

Field of Play

Each end of the field has two large posts and two small posts (from Aussie Rules) as well as a crossbar and goal net between the two large posts (from Gaelic Football). A behind (worth one point) is awarded when the ball goes between a large post and small post. An over (three points) is awarded when the ball goes over the crossbar and between the two large posts. A goal (six points) is awarded when the ball goes into the net.

The sport’s main event, the International Rules Series, is played between Australia and Ireland with hosting duties rotated each year between the nations. The event began in 1984 as a three-test series before being scrapped six years later. The series returned in 1998 with two tests per year before one-off tests were played in both 2014 and 2015. However, the series will revert back to two tests in 2017 when Australia host the Irish. Ireland won the sole 2015 test match, played at Croke Park, Dublin, by 56 points to 52.


Thanks for reading part 1 of this series. Part 2 will dissect sports like Korfball, Samoa Rules and Polocrosse.

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