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This official news post is copyrighted by Jagex. It is copied verbatim from the RuneScape website.
This update dates to 28 January 2003.

Sporty types will be pleased to know that they can now take part in the world-famous game of gnomeball. Down at the gnome stronghold, those cheeky little gnomes have cleared a piece of land about the size of a football pitch, and err, decided to play football on it. Well, almost.

Firstly, when I say football, I am not referring to the game where people try to propel a spherical object with their foot- hence football.

Rather, this game is closer to the American version of the sport, where huge musclebound gladiators enact a fusion of chess, war and ballet whilst hitting each other with heavily reinforced plastic. Hence football.

Take away the chess, ballet and plastic and you've got gnomeball, where tackling your opponent basically means wacking them as hard as you can.

And with gnomes being such good-hearted little creatures, they do at least have the decency to point out that they're about to hit you. Now you'd never get that from Warren Sapp.