Yubi Lakpi is a type of contact sport played with a coconut. The sport originated in Manipur in India, and is currently the only place where it is played. The name when literally translated means coconut snatching.
“Perhaps this was the root of modern rugby? Most Manipuris are quite adamant that the modern world ‘stole’ the idea from them and made it into rugby… this game, which has been around for centuries, is so similar to rugby, which evolved a great deal later, that it must be more than a coincidence.”
Before the start of the game, players rub their bodies with mustard oil and water to make slippery to catch each other. A coconut properly soaked with oil is place in front of the chief guest of the function, known as the “King”, who does not take part in the game itself. Before the start the coconut is placed in front of the seat of the “King”.
Other features of the game include:
• Dress – players are generally barefoot, and wear shorts (a kisi/langot), but not shirts.
• Umpire – The umpire is a senior jatra, who starts the game, and stops fouls.
• Pitch – usually approximately 45 metres long, by eighteen wide, without grass. One side of the pitch forms the central portion of the goal line. It is frequently played on rough, dried mud. Alternatively it can be played on turf.
• Scoring – a player has to approach the goal from the front with his oiled coconut and pass the goal line. The coconut is later offered to the “King”.
• Carrying – players are not allowed to hold the coconut against their chest, but have to carry it under their arm.
• Fouling and tackling – Players are not allowed to kick or punch opponents, or to tackle players who do not have the coconut.
Each side has 7 players in a field that is about 45 x 18 metres in area. One end of the field has a rectangular box 4.5 x 3 metres. One side of which forms the central portion of the goal line. To score a goal a player has to approach the goal from the front with his oiled coconut and pass the goal line. The coconut serves the purpose of a ball and is offered to the king or the judges who sit just beyond the goal line. However, in ancient times the teams were not equally matched but the players, with the coconut had to tackle all the rest of the players.