Leicester

Blood, brawn and baking all part of 'oldest' sport

Bottle kicking in full swing Image copyright PA
Image caption Three "bottles" - actually small barrels - are carried towards neighbouring streams

Wounds are being tended after the playing of what claims to be Britain's longest-running sporting event.

Hallaton Bottle Kicking matches the Leicestershire villages of Hallaton and Medbourne in an attempt to get small barrels across one of two streams.

Organisers claim its roots go back to Roman times and the muddy chaos was the inspiration for modern rugby.

After the traditional start of eating Hare Pie, favourites Hallaton retained their title, winning 2-0.

Image copyright PA Wire
Image caption The bottles are paraded through the villages with marching bands before the match begins

Phil Allen, who has been involved in arranging the fixture for more than 42 years, said: "The rules are very simple; there aren't any rules."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Hare Pie is blessed and shared before the match officially starts
Image copyright PA
Image caption Dozens take part, while hundreds - sometimes thousands - gather to watch
Image copyright PA
Image caption A grassy area called Hare Pie Bank forms the centre of the match pitch
Image copyright PA
Image caption Both young and veteran players are encouraged to take part
Image copyright PA
Image caption Serious injuries are rare but ambulances are on standby

Mr Allen said: "We believe that the Hallaton Bottle Kicking is the longest-running sporting event in Britain. We don't think there's anything older.

"It is the origin of rugby. Rugby started here in Hallaton. (William) Webb Ellis came to see his uncle, the rector, and then he went back to school - saw what they did in Hallaton, took the ball and ran with it."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The winners get to drink the beer in the barrels - and the local pubs help out
Image copyright PA
Image caption Organisers emphasise that people enter the field at their own risk

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