How to play Quidditch – A Primer
On the 19th of April The University of Newcastle hosted their leg of the 2015 NSW Triwiz Tournament. In preparation for the event I got along to what is currently Canberra’s only Quidditch team, the ANU’s ‘Australian National Nargles’, final training session before the tournament to get a grasp of how the sport, famous for its prevalence in the Harry Potter series, has been adapted for us land locked ‘muggles’.
Each team has 7 players in the following positions:
- Seeker (1 player) – Seekers chase after the snitch, when the snitch is caught they earn their team 30 points and the game ends.
- Chasers (3 players) – Chasers score points by putting the quaffle through the hoops by either throwing or kicking it.
- Beaters (2 players) – Beaters use the bludgers to take opposition players out of the game.
- Keeper (1 player) – Keepers guard the hoops from opposition players, they can also run the field and score but it is primarily a defensive position.
- Quaffle – One volleyball is used as the quaffle, it can only be handled by the chasers and the keeper. It can also be used to deflect incoming bludgers ala dodgeball. 10 points is scored each time the quaffle is thrown through any of the three scoring hoops. When a goal is scored, the Keeper gets the quaffle and play restarts at any time after opposing players leave the keeper zone.
- Bludgers – Bludgers are used by beaters to momentarily take opposition players out of the game. There are three in the game and it works like dodgeball. If you are hit with a bludger you have to run back to your defensive hoops, touch them, and then you are back in the game. A team may only hold 2 of the 3 bludgers at any one time.
- Snitch – The snitch is a tennis ball tucked into a sock that is attached to the shorts of a player called the snitch runner (more on this later). When the snitch is caught the game is finished and the seeker earns their team 30 points.
How the match starts
Each team positions itself midway between their goals and the centre, with the balls lined up along the centre of the field. Players have one knee on the ground with their brooms next to them.
Once all players (including substitutes) have their eyes closed, the snitch is released. ‘Brooms up’ is then called by the match official and players run for the balls.
The Snitch Runner
The snitch runner is one of the game’s more interesting components. At the start of the game the snitch is set free. During this time the seekers are not permitted to leave the field of play but the snitch runner is allowed to go wherever they like. I was told at training that once a snitch hid out in a nearby movie theatre.
At 10 minutes the seekers can leave the field of play to search for the snitch, then at 18 minutes the snitch runner must return to the field of play until the end of the game.
According to the IQA rulebook a regulation broomstick must consist of a wooden or plastic pole between 81 and 122 cm long. Whilst on the field the broom must be kept between the players legs at all times, if a player dismounts their broom at any time in the game they are out of the game and must run back to their defensive hoops to re-enter.
Quidditch is a mixed sport played with a ‘no more than four rule’, meaning no more than four players of one gender are allowed on the field at one time. Quidditch recognises non-binary genders too.
The game has evolved to become more physical over time, initially the rules were similar to basketball but you can now perform a one armed tackle on a player with the ball so long as they are struck below the shoulder and above the knee. Off the ball you can mark players in a fashion similar to Australian Rules football; you’re allowed to bump and hold your ground.
Any illegal contact results in a player being sent off the field for either 1 minute or until the other team scores and the quaffle is given to the opposition. And yes, guys can tackle girls and girls can tackle guys. This was a mental hurdle for me to overcome but I found after I had a few girls try tackling me in the practice match I got over it and it became pretty fun!
Text and photos by Denholm Samaras.