Players armed with foam weapons face off across a field in north-end Halifax on a cloudless Sunday morning.
On the count of three, the teams charge and players begin striking their opponents as someone dodges to grab a dog skull in the middle of the field.
The skull is fake, but the unusual sport is real. It’s called jugger, a combination of rugby, fencing and a little bit of fantasy, and it’s gaining popularity not only in Halifax but around the world.
“It’s a spectacle,” said Gil Richard, organizer of the Halifax Jugger League. “You get to see a group of adults running around fighting each other with fake swords. It’s fun to watch and it’s even funner to play.”
The purpose of the game is to score the dog skull in the other team’s end. There are five players on the field at a time: four enforcers that wield home-made weapons and one “quick,” who acts like a quarterback and directs the action.
In the background, the steady beat of a drum keeps time so players who’ve been hit know how long they’re out.
Jugger is based on a game played in the 1989 sci-fi movie The Blood of Heroes.
It’s origin story goes something like this: live-action role playing groups in Germany and Australia happened upon the movie and decided to bring jugger into the real world. They made gear and developed rules and teams started popping up in Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Canada.
Richard, who started the league about three years ago, found a video of the sport online and was sold from the very first frame.
Now, twice a week 10-15 people meet in Halifax to play. Richard said more are joining every year.
“For 50 bucks you could have a new team. That’s one of the nice things about jugger … it’s very…