Keeping Their Feet On The Ground

By Tom Ough

The growth of Quidditch at Oxford continued last week as the University Parks played host to a series of inter-collegiate matches. Teddy Hall, Worcester, Univ and St Hilda’s brought full complements for an afternoon of Muggle Quidditch, the rules of which resemble J K Rowling’s original, aside from the use of magic. Without the power of flight, players run with brooms between their legs as they attempt to score points by throwing the Quaffle through their opponents’ hoops. The game ends when the Snitch is caught, although in this case the Snitch is carried by a yellow-clad man released after eight minutes.

Such was the interest surrounding the event that The Guardian was also in attendance to watch Worcester thump Teddy Hall 40-10 and St Hilda’s capitalise on an unathletic Snitch-bearer to claim a 30-10 victory over Univ. The field was then opened up to anyone who wanted to play; ‘the fact that anyone can come and fly means that people don’t need to find full teams’, explained Angus Barry, a Worcester PPE-ist and the driving force behind the rise of Quidditch at Oxford along with Evan Lum, Gemma Newlands, Amy Wipfler and Jack Breur. Barry commented on the ‘friendly atmosphere’, the presence of which was a boon considering that the tackle rules are little more than an injunction to abide by ‘the spirit of the game’. This ambiguity led to some spirited physical challenges, but fortunately there was no need to crack open the Skele-Gro this time.

Students from a variety of colleges watched and later participated as spectators were invited to try their hands at the sport. A strong wind made ball movement less predictable, leading to cries of ‘rogue Bludger!’, but enough onlookers braved the elements for there to be ample replacement for the original participants. Whether they chose to play or not, the audience was vocal and enthusiastic. Stevie Finegan, of the Harry Potter society, called the event ‘A brilliant, if somewhat chilly, opportunity to watch some premier college Quidditch teams go head-to-head, and then get stuck in and have a go ourselves!’ The afternoon concluded with a group photo, taken by the Guardian photographer, and plans for the next broom-based jamboree.

From its origins as a magical fictional sport, Quidditch is fast developing as a global sport, with a World Cup held last year. With similar levels of interest in Cambridge, Barry has his sights set on a Varsity match against the Tabs, and if last week’s success is anything to go by, Quidditch has a bright future at Oxford.