Events | Sports | Ba' Games, Orkney

Ba' Games, Orkney

Mass rugby on the streets of Kirkwall

Join the crowds in Orkney this Christmas and New Year's Day for mass rugby games known as Ba's.

They’re played in the streets of Kirkwall each year, have few rules and can last all day! The Ba' begins on each day with separate events for men and boys.

Participants are divided into two sides, the Uppies and the Doonies. Whether you’re an Uppie or a Doonie depends on family loyalties. A local public figure or an older Ba’ veteran and past participant usually throws up the Ba’, with over 200 players waiting for the throw-up signalled by the chiming of the Cathedrals bells.

The object is for the opposing scrums to move the ball either up the street or down the street. It can take several hours of play before a conclusive victory is called. The Doonies goal is the sea, normally within the Basin of the Harbour while the Uppies attempt to score by rounding the Long, or Mackinson's corner at the junction of Main Street with New Scapa Road. Though outsiders rarely understand the rules, the game, played in this form since 1850, is well worth watching!

For more information check the Ba Game website .