IT IS like squash, but the ball is hit with the hands instead of a racquet – and has been played in Hampshire since 1862.


Winchester Fives is a variation of Rugby Fives and its national championship was recently played at Winchester College, which hosts the tournament every four years along with Malvern, Bradfield and Sedbergh in the Lake District.

“There’s a perception that Fives is a public school sport but that’s not the case, it’s relatively cheap to play and we have members from school age to 75,” says Harry Akerman, of the Wessex Fives Club, which plays on the 103-year-old court at Winchester College every Tuesday night.

“It’s smaller than a squash court, but the proportions are similar, with stone walls and a stone floor,” he explains.

“The ball’s slightly bigger and like a cricket ball in that at its centre is a cork, which is wrapped in string and covered in leather.

“You have padded gloves on both hands and points are scored when a rally is won by the receiver.

“Doubles is a fantastic game and safer than squash because you don’t need to be wary of any racquets.

“It’s not as knackering as squash but it’s a very good cardiovascular workout and because you’re using both hands it works both sides of the body.

“The winner is the first to 11 or 15 points, with matches usually played as a best-of-three.”

Unique to Winchester Fives is a buttress that players aim for to get the ricochets that help wrong-foot the opposition – but hitting it is difficult to do.

If you are interested in playing Fives, contact Harry Akerman (, 0777 9156332). For more information log on to