Appocalipse is not yet upon us, yet more and more people are already playing a post-apocalyptic sport named called Jugger, inspired by a 1989 movie starring Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen – Blood of Heroes.
In Blood of Heroes, Jugger was simply called ‘The Game’ and was a violent sport played for food and money, and while the real-life version follows the main rules, it tries to keep violence to a minimum. Instead of money, food and other prizes, juggers play for fun. The sport was invented by David Webb, writer/director of Blood of Heroes, but soon after the movie was released, it became a real sport played in two different regions of Germany, independently. The first was Berlin, a perfect setting with its post-apocalyptic look during the first years after the fall of the wall, and the other was Hamburg, where the first Jugger tournament took place in 1995.
Jugger is played almost exactly like in the movie. Two teams of five players battle each other trying to get a dog’s skull into the goal of the opponent. Instead of a real dog skull they use one made of thick cellfoam, and instead of deadly weapons they use well-padded clubs, and plastic chains with softballs at one end. Players try not to hit their adversaries too hard, opting for quick touches. If you manage to hit an opponent in the legal strike zone (the torso and upper arms and legs) he has to get down on one knee with a hand behind his back for a few seconds, before rejoining the game. Each team has a runner, called ‘Qwik”, who doesn’t carry any weapons but is the only one who can touch the dog skull and place it in the opposing goal.
Although it’s most popular in Germany, Jugger is quickly growing in popularity all over the world. In Australia, they’ve been playing Jugger since 2000, and there are teams in Spain, Denmark, Ireland and even Costa Rica.