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

image source, PA
image captionThree "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 source, PA Wire
image captionThe 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."

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image captionThe Hare Pie is blessed and shared before the match officially starts
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image captionDozens take part, while hundreds - sometimes thousands - gather to watch
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image captionA grassy area called Hare Pie Bank forms the centre of the match pitch
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image captionBoth young and veteran players are encouraged to take part
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image captionSerious 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 source, Getty Images
image captionThe winners get to drink the beer in the barrels - and the local pubs help out
image source, PA
image captionOrganisers emphasise that people enter the field at their own risk

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