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Muggle quidditch

This article is about the internationally played mixed gender and contact sport. For the fictional sport played in Harry Potter, see Quidditch.
A chaser tries to advance the quaffle but is deterred by an opposing beater.
Highest governing body International Quidditch Association [1]
Nicknames Quidditch
First played 2005 in Middlebury, Vermont
Contact full contact[1]
Team members 7 on field, 21 total on roster
Both teams can substitute players freely at any time behind their proper keeper zone.
Mixed gender Yes
Type Team sport, ball sport
Equipment Quaffle (volleyball)
Bludger (dodgeball)
Snitch (tennis ball)
Venue Quidditch pitch (also known simply as a "pitch")
Country or region Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, North America, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, Western Europe
Olympic No

Quidditch[2] is a sport of two teams of seven players each mounted on broomsticks played on a hockey rink-sized pitch.[3] The pitch is rectangular with rounded corners 55 metres (60 yards) by 33 metres (36 yards) with three hoops of varying heights at either end.[4] Having been created in 2005, the sport is quite young, but it is played across the world and actively growing.[5] The ultimate goal is to have more points than the other team by the time the snitch, a tennis ball inside a long sock hanging from the shorts of an impartial official dressed in yellow, is caught. Rules of the sport are governed by the International Quidditch Association, or the IQA, and events are sanctioned by either the IQA or that nation's governing body.

To score points, chasers or keepers must get the quaffle, a slightly deflated volleyball, into one of three of the opposing hoops which scores the team 10 points.[6] To impede the quaffle from advancing down the pitch, chasers and keepers are able to tackle opposing chasers and keepers at the same time as beaters using their bludgers to take out opposing players. Once a player is hit by an opposing bludger, that player must dismount their broom, drop any ball being held and return to and touch their hoops before being allowed back into play.[7] The game is ended once the snitch is caught by one of the seekers, awarding that team 30 points.[8]

A team consists of minimum seven (maximum 21) players, of which six are always on the pitch, those being the chasers, keeper and beaters. Besides the seeker who is off-pitch, the six players are required to abide by the gender rule which states that two players must identify as a gender other than the majority,[9] making quidditch one of the only sports that not only offers a co-ed environment but an open community to those who do not identify with the gender binary.[10] Matches or games often run about 30 to 40 minutes but tend to be subject to varying lengths of time due to the unpredictable nature of the snitch catch. If the score at the end of the match including the 30 point snitch catch is tied (such that the team that caught the snitch was 30 points behind the other), the game moves to overtime where the snitch is constrained to the pitch's dimensions and the game ends after five minutes or when the snitch is legally caught.


Quidditch has its roots in the fictional Harry Potter sport of the same name, however to denote the difference, the fictional sport uses the capitalised "Quidditch" whereas the sport played as per the IQA rules uses the uncapitalised "quidditch". The sport was created in 2005 at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont by Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe. It has grown into its own separate and distinct sport after seven[11] publications of rulebooks.[12]

After beginning in 2005, the sport grew to the point where, in 2007, the first "IQA World Cup" took place with Middlebury taking the place of top team. Since then, yearly until 2014, there was a "World Cup" within the United States where collegiate and community teams would compete to be the best team. While Canada would often send several Ontario or Québec teams and Australia and France each sent one team once, the World Cup in its state never saw true international competition. In 2012, the IQA hosted the Summer Games where five nations hosted national teams. Two years later, on July 19, 2014, the IQA hosted the Global Games in Burnaby, BC, Canada where national teams came together to compete, with the States defeating Australia for the gold medal.[13]

Since beginning at Middlebury College, the sport has its roots in the United States, but it soon grew internationally, arriving in Canada through McGill University and Carleton University in 2009. It began to take shape in across the world with teams popping up in Australia,[14] the UK[15] and France. It soon spread across Europe and the Americas, arriving in Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands as well as Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. With Angus Barry's visit to Uganda, teams began to pop up there, as well as active teams in Malaysia, China, South Africa, Uganda, the Philippines and Vietnam amongst other parts of the world.


File:Muggle Quidditch Game in Vancouver 2.jpg
Amateur quidditch match held between Mobify and Hootsuite companies in Jonathan Rogers Park Vancouver, BC on May 6, 2014

Three circular goals are placed on either side of the pitch. The goals are often circular tubes on top of PVC pipes. All players are required to carry a broom between their legs at all times, on pain of a foul.[12] Volleyballs are used as the quaffle, and dodgeballs serve as the bludgers. The snitch is simply a tennis ball contained in a sock tucked in the waistband of the snitch runner. Affiliated with neither team and considered a referee and ball in play, the snitch runner is dressed in gold or yellow.

The match begins with the quaffle and bludgers placed in the centre of the field and all players in line with their respective goalposts. As of 2014 with the release of the eighth edition of the USQ rulebook, the final variant of the international standard before being passed on to the IQA, the rules of snitching worldwide have changed slightly. Rulebook 8 contains the deletion of off-pitch seeking where now the snitch is restricted to only the playing field being released only after several minutes of play time have elapsed.[16] Rulebook 7 stipulated that as the match began, players would line up near their hoops with their eyes closed until the release of the snitch who then had the complete liberty to run about a predetermined play area. When played on a university or college campus the range is often the entire campus.[17] The seekers search for the runner around the play area; if they fail to catch them, they return to the field after a preset amount of time. A match commences under both iterations when the head referee calls out 'brooms up!', where rulebook 7 had all players and substitutes wait with their eyes firmly closed. The match ends with a complete catch by one of the team's seekers of the snitch ball thus awarding that team 30 points (each goal is ten points), and the team with the highest amount of points wins.

Whilst many NGBs decided to lose off-pitch seeking, some chose to retain the former snitch rules in addition to following the rest of rulebook eight.[18]

Positions in quidditch

  • Chasers are responsible for passing the quaffle and scoring points by throwing the quaffle through one of the opponent's goals for 10 points. Three chasers from a team may be in play at one time. When a bludger hits a chaser in possession of the quaffle, they must drop the quaffle and run back to their own goalpost to simulate recovery time. There are three chasers on the field for each team and they can be identified by a white headband.
  • Keepers are the goal protectors (similar to goaltenders in hockey) and must try to block attempts to score by the opposing team's chasers. One keeper from a team may be in play at a time. The keeper is invulnerable to bludgers as well as having indisputable possession of the quaffle when within their team's keeper zone, an area around the team's hoops. Once outside of the keeper zone, the keeper serves as a fourth chaser. There is one keeper on the field for each team, and they can be identified by a green headband.
  • Beaters attempt to hit the opposing team's players with bludgers and attempt to block the bludgers from hitting their team's players. As there are three bludgers for the four beaters on the pitch, the fourth, bludger-less beater puts pressure of the team in control of both bludgers (often called "BS" or "bludger supremacy"). Two beaters on a team may be in play at a time, and they can be identified by a black headband.
  • Seekers attempt to catch the snitch. Under rulebook 7, the snitch would leave the pitch at the start of the game and often did not return until a predetermined period has passed, seekers were able to search for the snitch off the pitch throughout the game. With rulebook 8, however, the snitch and seekers are relegated to the field only. There is one seeker on the field for each team, and they can be identified by a gold or yellow headband.


The game is played with six standing hoops, three on each side of an elliptical pitch. Each player must hold a broomstick between their legs. There are three different types of balls in play, and five in total: the quaffle, three bludgers and the snitch.

File:Quidditch Balls Lined Up Smalle.JPG
One quaffle and three bludgers lined up for "brooms up" before a quidditch match


Probably the most iconic piece of equipment for quidditch, the broomstick serves the purpose of being a "handicap" such as one-handed dribbling in basketball or using only your feet in association football. The player must stay mounted on their broomstick for every moment of play unless they have been hit with a bludger, in which case the player needs to dismount from their broom and return to their hoops.[19] To be mounted on the broomstick means that the player must hold the broom between their legs and not have it fully on the ground. It can be supported by their thighs or hands equally, just as long as it is not attached to their person nor fully resting on the ground.

Players ride a variety of objects considered to be brooms depending on level of seriousness. Often, the most serious of teams are all seen on the competition series of brooms, the Shadow Chasers, where teams with access to less resources tend to play on PVC pipes of about a metre in length. Oftentimes, newly formed teams tell players to BYOB (bring your own broom), which results in players coming on an assortment of camp and/or dangerous "brooms", from Swiffers to 2x4 pieces of wood, though this practice is discouraged from continuing past the first few practises.


Three hoops are placed on either side of the pitch of differing heights (1m, 1.4m and 2m), placed two broomsticks apart (2.34 m).[20] Chasers and keepers can score by throwing the quaffle through any one of the hoops, from either front or back, gaining ten points for their team per score. Any player experiencing a knock-out effect from either dismounting their broomstick or getting hit with a bludger must touch with any part of your body excluding the broom any one of their hoops before returning to play.


The quaffle is a slightly-deflated regulation volleyball that can only be manipulated by chasers or keepers. Used for scoring, it may pass through any hoop from either side. Regardless of which team caused the quaffle to pass through the hoop, as long as it is in play, a goal is scored against the team whose hoop was scored upon, which is counted to be 10 points.[21]


The bludger is a slightly-deflated dodgeball that can only be manipulated by beaters. At any given time there are four beaters in play, but only three bludgers. The bludgers are used to hit any other player on the field. Upon being hit by a bludger previously in the possession of an opposing beater, the player suffers the knockout effect. This means they must dismount their broom, drop any ball that they may have been carrying, and touch their team's hoops before resuming play. It's worth noting that there is no friendly fire, meaning that bludgers thrown by beaters cannot affect any of their teammates.[21]


File:2015 King's Cup Quidditch Tournament, Syracuse, NY-04.JPG
Seeker (l) and Snitch (r) at King's Cup Quidditch Tournament, Syracuse University, April 2015.[22]

The snitch is a tennis ball placed at the bottom of a yellow long sock which is attached to the back of the snitch runner's shorts as if it were a tail. The snitch runner may do everything in their power to protect the snitch from being caught by seekers. Only seekers may make advances towards the snitch or the snitch runner, and no forceful contact with the snitch runner is allowed. After a certain amount of the time without having been caught, the snitch runner is relegated to the first of two handicaps: playing with one arm held behind their back. The second handicap is applied if the snitch is still not caught after a secondary amount of time where the snitch runner must hold both hands behind their back. The game ends when the snitch is grabbed by a seeker, awarding that seeker's team 30 points.[21]

As of the release of the eighth edition of the rulebook, the snitch is relegated to playing only on the field in the same fashion of the other players. Previously, snitch runners left the pitch to be pursued by seekers returning to the field after a predetermined amount of time. The term off-pitch seeking is applied to the pre-rulebook 8 scenario. Many countries play using the eighth edition's rules all the while keeping the seventh edition's off-pitch seeking rules.


The IQA has since released eight iterations of the rulebook, each building upon the last. Currently, Rulebook 8 is available in French, and there are translations until Rulebook 5 in Italian, Mandarin and Spanish.


Each match begins with the seven starting players along the starting line within their keeper zone with brooms on the ground and their eyes closed (so as to not watch where the snitch goes) and the four balls lined in the centre of the pitch. The head referee, when they see the snitch fall out of sight, then calls "brooms up!" to which player run to gain possession of the balls.[23] After brooms up is called, the seekers must not interfere with other positions and wait near the pitch until the end of the seeker floor, usually 10 minutes. After the seeker floor the seekers are released and may run off pitch to search for the snitch.

Play style runs rapidly, with quick change-of-hands of the quaffle as every point (with each being worth 10 points) scored against your team gives your team the ball. Once a point is scored, the quaffle must be given to the other team's keeper and almost immediately return to the offensive[24] with the chasers returning to their keeper zone or proper side of the pitch;[25] beaters are not bound to return to their side of the pitch nor exit the opposing team's keeper zone at any point.[26] Games generally last 20 to 50 minutes, depending on the skill and endurance of the seekers and snitch.

The game is won only after the snitch has been caught cleanly, and the team that caught the snitch is awarded 30 points.[27] The winner is determined not by the snitch catch but by the number of points earned, thus it is not unknown to see teams losing by a wide margin push a snitch catch to end the game.

Fouls and illegal plays

There are numerous fouls and illegal plays a player can commit, where varying degrees of illegality will earn a player anything from a warning to a red card and permanent expulsion from that match.

Contact rules are fairly straightforward and are similar to other contact sports. Tackles are legal between the knees and shoulders. Players can only tackle other players of their same position (keepers considered chasers) if they have the ball. Pushes are allowed if the arm is held straight; it is illegal to push if the arm is bent and then extended when pushing another player.[28] Contact initiated from behind is illegal, but it is considered clean if a player tackling another runs into the tackle and then turns backwards.[29]

After several various types of illegal play, the head ref will blow their whistle twice to indicate stoppage of play where each player must drop in place their broom and any ball they were holding.[30]

Most fouls result in a yellow card being given. With a yellow card, the player awarded the card goes to the penalty box for 1 minute, or until their team is scored upon. Players may not sub from the penalty box, however, if a keeper is awarded a penalty he or she must trade headbands with a chaser as a team must have a keeper on the pitch at all times.

When a red card is given, the player who committed the foul must sub off for somebody else on his or her team. The player who received the red card must leave the pitch. Their replacement then has 2 minutes in the penalty box, and is not allowed to leave the penalty box for those 2 minutes even if his or her team is scored upon. A red card can either be given outright or can be the result of two yellow cards in a game.

The snitch, however, only has a few explicit restrictions such as climbing trees and buildings. However many snitch rules may soon become void, as some leagues are removing off pitch seeking from their official gameplay.


The quidditch pitch is marked with lines or a series of cones, but it is not binding to players,[31] meaning players can continue play outside the boundaries, but within the spectator zone (a rectangle of 44 x 77m around the pitch).[32] Balls are not allowed to be kicked off the pitch under penalty nor is play allowed in the spectator zones. Players are asked to return to the pitch when play continues out of bounds.

On the edge of the pitch are two penalty boxes where players who have committed fouls that warrant yellow cards are sent for one minute.[33]


Each official game requires having several referees present as well as an official snitch. The referees are the head ref whose job is to control the field and administer fouls and yellow/red cards to offending players, assistant refs who assist the head referee in watching for illegal plays, the snitch ref who follows the snitch once they enter the field and determine whether or not the catch was clean and the goal refs whose job is to determine if the quaffle went through the hoop.[28] Assistant refs are oftentimes called bludger or beater refs, and their job is to call "beat" (or, in French, "touché") when the beat was clean (meaning hit the opposing player), to help determine whether a goal was scored based on the beat and assist with making calls concerning illegal action or give verbal warnings to players. Assistant referees are also able to communicate to the head ref for a stoppage of play if witness to action that would result in a yellow card. Snitch refs, whilst the snitch is off field, act as an additional bludger ref.

The snitch, being a neutral player and assistant referee, is tasked to run off the pitch before the initial "brooms up!" call. Since they originate from neither team and are considered a referee themselves, it is also under their judgement to help the referees to determine whether or not the catch was clean.[28]

Rulebook 8

The release of rulebook 8 coincided partially with the reformation of the IQA. As USQ released the rulebook, the IQA chose to adopt the eighth iteration as the de facto international standard where the proceeding rulebook will be released under the guise of the IQA. The changes from the seventh to eighth rulebook were minimal except in two areas: blue cards and snitching.

A technical foul results in a blue card on a player where that player must substitute with another player of the same position. The substitution does not, however, result in a power play for the other team, and play is not stopped when this card is rendered. A play may accrue an unlimited amount of technical fouls during a match.[34]

Snitching also changed in rulebook 8 resulting in the deletion of off-pitch seeking. Where before, the snitch would be "released" before each match by running off the pitch during a set amount of time, now the snitch is released to the field, limited to the playing area, at 17 minutes (the seekers being released at 18 minutes). Many NGBs choose to continue playing under rulebook 7 rules.[34]

International Quidditch Association

The International Quidditch Association serves as the central governing body for quidditch worldwide and helps to coordinate with national associations around the world through the IQA Congress. Previously, The IQA held a World Cup for qualifying members of the association at the end of every season, the first being held in 2007, ending in 2014 with its restructuring.[35] Now, the only tournament the IQA oversees is the international Global Games.

File:IQA World Map.png
World Map of quidditch activity. Dark blue indicates full member, lighter blue indicates developing member and the lightest blue indicates emerging areas.

National governing bodies

Each nation in which quidditch is played has or is in the process of developing a national organisation. The job of the national organisation is to organise quidditch within the country, create membership policies for teams, organize referees, snitches and coaches and be the bridge between that nation's teams and the IQA. Currently, the active national associations are:


Global Games

Main article: IQA Global Games

Global Games is the IQA's tournament for national teams. Any quidditch-playing nation is offered the chance at competing on the world level at this tournament. The latest iteration was held in Burnaby, BC, Canada in July 2014 where it saw the US taking first with Australia coming in with a close second. The Games, hosted by US Quidditch, attracted limited media presence and saw a small gathering of spectators. The results were, in order: United States, Australia, Canada, UK, Mexico, France, Belgium.

The original Global Games were titled "Summer Games" to match the Olympics being held in London, UK. July 2012 saw 5 national teams from around the world compete in this first international tournament run by the IQA, taking place in University Parks, Oxford, England. The five teams were from the USA, Canada, France, UK, and Australia.[36]

European Games

Similar to the Global Games, the European Games is an international tournament open to national teams. Inclusion within the European Games is limited to members of the European Committee (also known as Quidditch Europe or QEurope). The first European Games will be held in Sarteano, Italy from 24 July to 27 July.[37]

European Quidditch Cup

The European Quidditch Cup, also known as EQC and formerly known as the European Quidditch Championship,[38] is a yearly championship tournament for teams in Europe. The 2014-2015 season will see its third iteration which is set to be held in Oxford, UK on 18–19 April 2015.[39] EQC began first in France in Lesparre-Médoc on 13 October 2012 where a minimal amount of teams attended during the 2012-2013 season due to the fact that quidditch was only recently introduced to Europe.[40] In the 2013-2014 season, however, with EQC II, Brussels and the Belgian Quidditch Federation hosted the tournament on 1–2 February. Twelve teams from a variety of countries attended with Radcliffe Chimeras coming in first and Paris Phénix and the Belgian Qwaffles taking second and third place, respectively.[41]

Canadian Nationals

Canadian Nationals will be the national championship tournament for Quidditch Canada.[42] The 2014-2015 national championship will be held in Burnaby, BC on 28 March 2015. Its precursors: East and West Regionals, will be held in Kingston, ON and Moose Jaw, SK on 1 February and 7 February 2015, respectively.[43]


Yearly, the Australian Quidditch Association hosts QUAFL, an all-Australian championship that determines which Australian team is the best. The last tournament in 2013 was held at the University of Western Sydney on 30 November and 1 December. The winning team was the Perth Phoenixes. The third place team, University of Sydney Unspeakables, decided to travel to the US to participate in the last ever IQA World Cup.

USQ Championships

Also known as the USQ World Cup, the championship tournament within US Quidditch will be held for the first time in April 2015. There, qualifying teams from regional championships will compete to see which team is the best in the US. USQ membership policy dictates that any team outside the US will be eligible to compete in this and any other USQ tournament as long as they pay the membership fees in full, but, to date, only two teams outside the US have registered as such: University of British Columbia's A and B teams.

The regions within USQ are:[44]


British Quidditch Cup

The British Quidditch Cup was held in Oxford, England, on the 9th and 10 November 2013, and was won by the Oxford University's first team, The Radcliffe Chimeras.[45] The BQC was repeated on the weekend of the 7th March 2015 held in Wollaton Park, Nottingham. At this tournament the defending Champions, The Radcliffe Chimeras, were defeated in the final by Southampton Quidditch Club 1, with Keele Squirrels coming third. In total 24 teams were registered to compete with 23 doing so.

Other British tournaments include The Northern Cup, hosted by Keele University's quidditch team, the Southern Cup, hosted by Southampton Quidditch, the Annual Mercian Cup, a mercenary tournament hosted by Derby Union Quidditch, Reading University's Whiteknights Tournament and Oxford's unique Valentines Cup, a fantasy tournament where players signed-up in pairs. Since the awareness of quidditch in the UK is rising exponentially, every year new tournaments are being devised.

IQA World Cup

Main article: IQA World Cup

The IQA World Cup is the former "world" championships of quidditch which was held yearly in the United States. As it was maintained by the former IQA, it was almost a purely US-based tournament, seeing little turnout from teams outside of the country. This tournament was discontinued in 2014 when the IQA took on its new role as international sports federation, choosing instead to host Global Games as a world championships with individual teams relying on their national governing body for a culminating tournament.

Other large tournaments

Each season, regions generally host one to two larger tournaments, mostly following the North American/European school model of two terms (autumn-winter, winter-spring) where there is one larger tournament per semester in addition to that region's regional championship.

Fantasy tournaments

Fantasy tournaments are tournaments where players sign up individually and are seeding to teams at a drawing by the team captains. Each year, there are quite a few fantasy tournaments, with greater numbers being during June–August during the off-season.

Two minimum rule and gender quotas

Organized quidditch has a requirement for "each team to have at least two players on the field who identify with a different gender than at least two other players," ostensibly making the game coeducational; however, this is only enforced by the honor system, in that this requirement can be met simply by having two of the members of an all-same-sex team identify as members of the opposite sex or any of various non-conforming genders. "The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender, which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex."[46] As of 2013, the IQA has created Title 9¾, a branch of the IQA that actively promotes advocacy and awareness as well as gender equality and inclusivity (a play on the federal statute Title IX and the "Platform 9¾" from the Harry Potter universe).[47] The sport as also been illustrated to yield a positive coed experience for women and men, increased desires for inclusivity, and stereotype reduction.[48]

File:Maryland Team.jpg
Maryland Quidditch poses as a team with two Shadow Chaser brooms in the centre and two on the sides

Quidditch community

Quidditch has created a strong community across the world based on mutual respect and "quidditch love" ("quove")[citation needed]. The sport has attracted people from varying social groups, from stereotypical jocks to Harry Potter and fantasy nerds, in addition to respecting non-heteronormative individuals and people who do not identify with the gender binary, in large part due to Title 9 ¾, the clause that defends the rule of the two-minimum gender rule ("During a quidditch game, each team must have at least two players in play who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player's gender").[49] People from all walks of life come together to play a sport that breaches traditional sports stereotypes. A person who is a part of this community is dubbed a "quidditch kid" ("quidkid").

Quidditch by other rules

There are other variants of real-life Quidditch, notably played in Russia, Kazakhstan and Hungary amongst other places. These variants often play with rules similar to the fictional sport within the Harry Potter universe but differ wildly from the IQA rules, including but not limited to: playing without brooms, brooms serving a different purpose, referees throwing balls to act as snitches, differing bludger and beater roles, etc.[citation needed]

A version of "real life" quidditch is also portrayed in the film The Internship, however it strays wildly from muggle quidditch's ruleset.[citation needed]


Modified rules with less contact have been used for younger (school age) players.[50] These rules include no tackling, modified hoops and a little lee-way on calls made by referees.

Wheel-chair quidditch

The Australian Quidditch Association has a set of rules for wheel-chair quidditch. It is rarely used elsewhere, however it is starting to gain traction in several other countries.

See also

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  35. ^ Old IQA becomes the USQ
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External links