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Swapping rugby for timbersports

Four rugby players from Leicester Tigers took on timbersports -- an extreme sport that involves chopping and sawing wood at speed.

Posted: Jun. 30, 2018 12:11 PM
Updated: Jun. 30, 2018 12:38 PM

Chopping logs is a piece of cake for lumberjacks, but four pro rugby players found brute force alone doesn't cut it.

The quartet of Tatafu Polata-Nau, Greg Bateman, Valentino Mapapalangi and Chris Baumann recently tried their hands at timbersports -- an extreme sport that involves sawing and chopping wood at speed using various techniques.

It may sound easy, but timbersports requires a unique combination of strength and careful precision. One wrong move could chop off a toe.

"I've got new respect for timbersports," said Leicester Tigers hooker Polata-Nau, who has won 82 caps for Australia.

"With a lot of things you watch on TV, it looks quite easy but going through it is actually quite difficult.

"For example, I didn't realize how accurate you have to be with the underhand wood chop because one small slip to the side and you can chop your big toe off. I guess it's more about finesse as opposed to using muscular strength."

American Baumann reckons he may have caught the timbersports bug.

"I definitely have new-found respect for it," he said. "I can try and get into it a little bit once rugby's done, which might be this next year, who knows?"

Timbersports has its origins in Australia in the 19th century when lumberjacks would challenge each other to get through their work with most speed and skill.

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It wasn't until 1985 that it was formulated into a professional competition in the US, and today events are held on four continents with more than 2,000 athletes competing worldwide.

More than 20 million people annually are thought to watch the STIHL Timbersports Series, which includes six disciplines -- three with an axe and three with a saw.

The World Championships will be held for the first time in the UK this year in Liverpool from October 19-20.

Visit cnn.com/rugby for more newsm features and videos

Find out how the four Tigers players got on in the video at the top of the page.

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