Hurling of the silver ball 2024 in St Columb Major

Image courtesy of St Columb Hurling Facebook page

This event has finished

But you can check out hundreds of events that are happening soon at Proper Cornwall

In Brief

Name: Hurling of the Ball 2024 in St Columb Major (second leg)
Dates: Saturday 24 February 2024
Times: 4.30pm, pubs from 8pm
Type: Traditional sporting and community festival
Suitable for: Rugby and contact sport fans who also like a bit of history and community
Location: St Columb Major near Newquay. The action starts in Market Place
Price: Free


If you happen upon the town of St Columb Major near Newquay in February 2024, you may be lucky enough to witness an extraordinary sporting spectacle that used to be common throughout Cornwall’s towns and villages in days gone by. The ‘hurling of the silver ball’ – or ‘Cornish hurling’ – is a local rugby-like tradition of unknown origins that has been played for more than 500 years.

These days it’s as much a celebration of Cornish culture as it is an archaic sporting event, but it’s one that still brings a community together and promises an interesting – albeit testosterone-fuelled – experience. Prepare for the second leg of the Hurling of the Ball 2024 in St Columb Major!

Throughout the Duchy, there are now only a handful of hurls that take place on an annual basis, including a traditional one in St Ives that also takes place in February. Read about that: here. But the pick of the bunch for us has to be the annual hurl in St Columb Major, which is Cornwall’s biggest and almost certainly its roughest.

There are two legs that take place every year. The first leg took place on Shrove Tuesday – 13 February 2024 – before the return game is played in the town (so that bruises have been healed but so that Tuesday’s losers have a chance to level the scores) on Saturday 24 February 2024, ahead of all the St Piran’s Day Cornwall 2024 festivities.

Basically, one team comprised of local players from the town and they are pitted against the other team of players from the parish’s more rural areas. It’s rough, it’s tumble and it’s an awesome spectacle. In the 2023 game, both legs were won by the ‘Country’ team. Local lad Ben Lomax won the final Saturday hurl, so he keeps the special silver ball until Shrove Tuesday 2024 in Cornwall.

But what exactly is hurling? Well, the game starts with a ‘throw up’ in Market Place which is then followed by each team trying to keep possession of a small silver-coated wooden ball by pretty much any means necessary. Games usually last a little under or over an hour and the winning team is the one which deposits the ball in their own goal. And by goal, we mean a granite trough for the rural team and another trough by a waymarker for the townsfolk.

The teams can also win if they manage to carry the ball over the parish boundary, meaning that the playing area is pretty much the entire parish that surrounds St Columb Major. All 20 square miles of it – including its open roads, private gardens, fields, pubs and everything in between – are playing areas for these team members who will be wrestling each other in an attempt to move that silver ball towards the goal trough. It’s little wonder, then, that many houses and businesses are boarded up on both days to avoid any damage.

While all this rampaging at the St Columb Major Hurling of the Ball 2024 may sound intimidating, rest assured that the rough and tumble is enacted with the jolliest of attitudes, and while winning and bragging rights are certainly the aim of the game, the emphasis of the event is a celebration of tradition and bringing a community together.

In that spirit you won’t be surprised to learn that both teams put rivalries aside to spend the evening in the local pubs, submersing that ball into a gallon jug that’s shared among willing patrons who want to taste the ‘silver beer’. We’ve heard that after an evening of heavy drinking, hurling of a different kind can often ensue…