Yes, Quidditch is real, you read that title right. It is, in fact, such a popular sport that there’s an entire Victorian league, with popularity extending beyond our waters. International competition started biannually in 2012, with the first Quidditch World Cup taking place in Oxford, UK. In 2016, a total of 120 applications were for team Australia, the biggest turn-out yet, according to assistant coach, Liam McCoppin.
Ten teams played in the 2018 Victorian season beginning in March. After 18 exciting rounds, the preliminary match this weekend was between the Whomping Willows and the Monash Muggles. It was a rush to watch from start to finish. Left, right and centre, tackles were made throughout play. Taking place in Fawkner Park, South Yarra, The Whomping Willows won by a ten-point lead, after snagging the snitch a few minutes after release. “This match is such a big deal because some of these players are the best players in Australia,” said McCoppin of the game. A lot of the tackles were brutal, resulting in concussions and blood noses alike.
This video is a taster of the game and gives a visual breakdown of the available positions on the field.
The Whomping Willows will match up against Melbourne Manticores in the grand final this coming weekend. It will be held at Fawkner Park, South Melbourne and is free to attend.
Quidditch is fast paced and worth seeing, suitable for all ages. An understanding of the game is worthy of having, should you be interested in attending the riveting competition.
I’ve taken the liberty of breaking it down in the following segment.
The game, from the realm of Harry Potter, is a mixed-gendered, full-contact sport, played on ‘brooms’ (PVC pipe). Rules outline there are to be no more than four out of seven people of the one gender, from the one team, on the field at a time. The gender that you are on the pitch is the gender you say you are; the one you identify as. “That’s why so many people love this sport,” McCoppin said of the game. He was present when Australia reigned victorious at the 2016 Quidditch World Cup, held in Frankfurt. This match was the only game to date that Team USA has ever lost. Celebrations thereafter were so large that one player missed his flight home, caught up in the victory.
Quidditch is a game of strategy, combining elements of rugby and dodge-ball. It is a fast paced game with four balls in play the entire time. The “Snitch” in our muggle-version is portrayed by a player dressed in yellow, with a detachable tennis ball hanging from the back of their shorts. The aim of the game is to get the “quafffle” (netball or volleyball) through either of the 3 hoops at the either end of the pitch, all worth 10 points each, while avoiding being knocked out of play by any of the “bludgers” (dodge-balls).
“It’s easy to lose track of all the rules,” McCoppin admits; there being over 100 of them, all of which are amended annually. Here’s the basic rules, as of 2018:
- Teams have 18-21 players, seven players per team on the field at a time.
- The Snitch, an impartial athlete, and the Seekers for both teams (1 per team) come in at 18-minute mark, to allow the players to have some time to score points before the game comes to a close with the snitch’s capture. The Snitch’s call is to avoid capture for as long as possible.
- Most people try out for a specific position. There are “all rounders” typically only one, if any, per term, dubbed “utilities”; playing whatever position is needed.
- Beaters are usually quick and small, while Chasers and Keepers are bigger, and stronger. Beaters throw the Bludgers. Chasers aim to shoot goals.
- Only recently were the rules changed from Snitchs being able to venture outside the field. Before this change, it was essentially a game of hide and seek. Some Snitchs resorted to climbing up trees and jumping of house roofs and such. Safety first!
- Catching the Snitch in J.K. Rowling books is worth 150, though here it’s worth 30 points here.
- The game ends when Snitch is caught. It has to be in control – it cannot have been knocked to ground and then picked up. This means that the game length varies – it can sometimes go for 18 minutes and 30 seconds, sometimes half an hour, sometimes 120 minutes. The longest game in of Quidditch in the Victorian league lasted one hour and forty-five minutes.
- You can shoot from behind the hoops. Each hoop is worth 10 points.
- One armed tackle only. Rough play resorts in time-penalties.
- “Brooms (pipes) down” when referees need to discuss a penalty.
- You can change positions during the game as needed.
Popularity for the game was larger than I’d expected here in Australia, but it has proved even more popular overseas: Australia has 30 teams at the moment, whereas America has about 160 teams or so.
Of the fast-paced and multi-level complexity, McCoppin reflects, “For me, that’s why it’s such a beautiful game; because you can look at three different places right now and there’s good stuff to watch.”