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Watch top teams take the strain for British and Irish Tug of War Championships

Around 200 competitors took part in the British and Irish championships at Huddersfield Leisure Centre

Strong men - and a few women - put their stamina to the test when they descended on Huddersfield for a tug of war contest.

Around 200 competitors gurned and grunted their way through the British and Irish indoor tug of war championships at the town’s leisure centre on Saturday.

Representative teams from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland competed for gold, silver and bronze medals.

They lined up to compete for national glory - and warm up for the upcoming World Championships in Volendam, The Netherlands.

England coach Robert Gunn and member of Kilroe club in Penistone, said: “This is a stepping stone to the World Championships.

“There’s no other competitions like this at this time of year and it’s also the first time we get to have a go with the opposition.”

Mr Gunn, of Grange Moor, used to compete himself for 40 years before taking on the position of coach this year.

His club, which used to train at the old Huddersfield Sports Centre, has 20 members who train three times a week as well as running and going to the gym.

Huddersfield Leisure Centre hosts the British and Irish Tug of War championships. England 'B' team.

He said: “It keeps you really fit but you have to be very dedicated.

“The day before the competition we were 36 kilos over the allowed weight so we spent the whole day in the sauna sweating it off!”

There were two weight categories contested in the men’s division together with a mixed weight class, with teams consisting of four men and four women.

The tug of war teams consisted of eight pullers, aiming to pull a rope four metres from its starting position.

Competing in the mixed class on behalf of Kilroe Ladies were Laurie Ibbotson and Elise Priestley.

They won gold at the European outdoor championships in September.

Huddersfield Leisure Centre hosts the British and Irish Tug of War championships. Scotland 'A'

Laurie, a member for 20 years after joining through her Young Farmers’ club, said: “We would like to see all female teams competing but indoors tug of war is very specialist and not many people know about it.

“It’s a very sociable sport and all sorts of people do it, we’ve got hairdressers and solicitors.

“We both met our partners through this and we take part as a family and it gets very competitive.”

Elise that people think of those taking part in the sport as being big and burly men but that’s certainly not the case.

She added: “You have to train hard and you get a great workout.

“It’s quite extreme but I love it.

Huddersfield Leisure Centre hosts the British and Irish Tug of War championships. England 'B' against Scotland 'A'

“We don’t look particularly attractive doing it and gurning away but it’s a lot like a drug - it’s very addictive!”

Contest spokesman Alan Knott said: “It’s a good warm up event for the world indoor tug of war championships.

“It’s a growing sport and we’re hoping to get more kids and youth teams involved.

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“It’s good all round for your body and anyone can do it because you’ve got the different weight categories.

“We hope some day that tug of war will once again be part of the Olympic programme.

“It is a true team sport and the ethics or determination, hard work, sportsmanship and friendship are unrivalled in any other sport."



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