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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Quidditch – The Community Magic in the South West

President of the West Country Rebels Quidditch team, Jake Ruggier explains why he set up the community-based club and how he grew to love the magic of the sport…

Jake Ruggier began playing Quidditch in 2016 as a fun activity whilst studying Games Technology at Bournemouth University. He now finds himself president of the West Country Rebels, a community Quidditch team in the South West.

His journey from Quidditch Society member to team president began spontaneously during his first year at Bournemouth University.

“I was looking at different clubs and societies that I could join. I went to the Harry Potter society because a few of my flatmates were going and I thought I’d like it. Eventually, I ended up making a good group of friends there.

Jake Ruggier playing with his Bournemouth Banshees teammates.

“We all thought it would be a great idea to start up a Quidditch team because we already knew that Quidditch was a sport at other universities.

“We did one taster session at Christmas in 2015, with a few guys from the Southampton Quidditch team who came to help us. That was my first actual taste of Quidditch, and not long after, we formed the Bournemouth Banshees Quidditch team.

WHAT IS QUIDDITCH AND HOW IS IT PLAYED?

Quidditch was invented in 2005 in the United States, and it is based on a fictional sport created by the author of the fantasy book series Harry Potter J.K. Rowling. In her books, witches and wizards aim to score goals while riding on their broomsticks.  

Still relatively new to the sporting world, Quidditch has become a popular growing sport in the UK, with the first official UK Quidditch team being founded in 2012.

As explained on the Quidditch UK website, Quidditch consists of two teams playing against each other to score points; whichever team scores the most wins.

Like the Harry Potter series, players must keep a broom (a PVC pipe) between their legs when playing. 

To score points, players must throw the ball through any of the three hoops. However, only certain players may score points with only certain balls. You can click here to read the full rules.

THE GROWTH OF BOURNEMOUTH BANSHEES

Once the Banshees were created, the original members needed to find players to compete in their team. Quidditch rules state that each team must have seven players.

Jake believes that the sport’s easiness helps new players transition more smoothly into Quidditch than other popular sports.

“There are quite a few things that make Quidditch so unique. It’s a lot easier to pick up, even if you’ve never played it before.

The Bournemouth Banshees Quidditch team.

“If you didn’t play rugby or football when you were little, you would struggle to begin playing now because your opponents could have many years of advantage on you.

“I have never really been that sporty. But with Quidditch, you can be new to the sport and still have a great time with the team because it’s a fairly new sport to everyone.

“The first year we started up, we managed to get just enough players to make the team and get through the whole year. The following year it came down to keeping hold of players who came to the taster sessions. Luckily we always had enough players to compete. The last two years have been very hard.”

WHY CREATE THE WEST COUNTRY REBELS?

Although Quidditch has been able to grow on a university level in the South West, there have been obstacles for the players. 

Despite Quidditch being a popular growing sport in the area, there were no community teams based in the South West for players leaving university. Jake reveals that this was one of the main reasons behind the formation of the West Country Rebels.

“Quidditch in the UK is one of the moving ball sports communities. It started as university teams, but people began to create non-university teams when they graduated because they enjoyed it.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while because Quidditch has struggled in the South West. It used to be one of the country’s more active regions, but many teams have struggled.  There was also no community team available for players leaving university in the South West. There are community teams in the North, London, and one in Oxfordshire. So this club aims to keep good players and graduates playing in the area.

“Before lockdown and COVID pandemic, the governing body [Quidditch UK] decided to split the sport into two leagues. One league for universities and one for non-university teams.

“In Bournemouth, we’ve struggled recently to get recruits, and we’re not the best team in the country. I’ve found that most players want to move up to a community team and start a new challenge, not just play another year of university Quidditch.

“Now we finally have a team to play for in the South West.”

FRUSTRATIONS IN LOCKDOWN

Many community sports in the area have been halted due to lockdown, and Quidditch is, unfortunately, no different. Jake revealed that the prevention of training has been a frustrating element in the team’s struggles.

“There’s not much talk between the teams at the moment because tournaments have been cancelled. We can’t just go out and play.

“The sport was quite prominent in the South, and there are around 40 teams across the country at the moment. But now, because of COVID, none of them are playing.

“The end of last season was cancelled, and we thought we’d be back playing in the autumn. We tried a few socially distanced taster sessions in the autumn. But with another lockdown in November, we haven’t trained since then.

“It’s been sad not being able to play the sport we love and train with each other. It’s frustrating because we can’t get new people down for the taster sessions.”

Hear the Bournemouth Backchat team’s views on Quidditch in this episode of our podcast. Find out more about the West Country Rebels Quidditch Team on Facebook and Instagram. For more local Sport stories, click here. Also, don’t forget to follow HQB News on our social channels. You can find us on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

James Worthington
James Worthingtonhttps://jameswsport.weebly.com/
James is a sports journalist from Leicestershire with diverse experience in the sports media, industry spanning from English Football League clubs to BT Sport. Alongside his work in the UK, he produced content in Amsterdam for a national football team, and has interviewed several legends of the game. James mainly enjoys sports photography, playing football and cooking (when he isn't setting the smoke alarm off).

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