What is quidditch?
Quidditch is a competitive sport growing rapidly around Australia and the world. It is played predominantly by university students, but it is also played by older and younger community teams, and even schools. Derived from JK Rowling's Harry Potter novels, it was converted into a real life sport, maintaining many of its essential elements, by fans back in 2005, and since then has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, the world's only mixed-gender full contact sport, played in over 30 countries and governed by the International Quidditch Association (IQA).
Today, there are over 30 teams across Australia within university and community clubs, including ours, who are governed by Quidditch Australia, and the various state governing bodies (Ours being QNSW).
How did quidditch start?
One Sunday afternoon in 2005, two students at Middlebury College in Vermont, USA, Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe, decided that rather than playing bocche, they would have a go trying to play quidditch instead. Because why not?
With a group of friends, taking a lot of the rules from the Potter novels, they created the very first version of real-life quidditch. Gradually, they codified the rules as news spread and others schools heard about it and their regular intramural games. Two years later in 2007 came the first intercollegiate match. From there, quidditch really took off.
A Brief History of International Quidditch
Just a year after the first intercollegiate match saw the first international quidditch games, with a "World Cup" championship featuring 11 US college teams and one team from Canada. As the game grew in the US and Canada, the IQA was founded to govern the sport and was incorporated into NFP business in 2010. The 'Quidditch World Cup' was held annually in the US, featuring rapidly increasing numbers of college and community teams from around the States, with the odd other team from Canada, France, and even Finland. By 2011, World Cup V in New York featured 96 teams and 10,000 ticketed spectators. 2011 was also when quidditch finally spread down to Australia, and the first tournament outside of the USA, the QUAFL Cup was held in Sydney.
2012 saw the first proper world cup, called the Summer Games, and held in Oxford to coincide with the Olympics and raise awareness for the sport. It was contested by national teams from the US, Canada, Australia, France, and the UK, with the US coming out dominant. This kick-started the rapid development of quidditch throughout Europe.
By 2014, the sport had become significantly international that the predominantly US based IQA then split into US Quidditch and a truly international IQA. This was also the last year where the US 'World Cup' was called such, and the last year where international teams were invited. The US World Cup VII featured the first Australian club team to play internationally and the only one to play in the US - the USyd Unspeakables! After this, the annual US World Cup became the somewhat more accurate US Nationals.
2014 also saw the second tournament held between national teams from around the world, where 7 countries (the original five plus Belgium and Mexico) converged on Bunbury, Canada, to compete in the Global Games. The US also dominated this tournament, with the Australian national team ("The Dropbears"), who featured two USyd players, Luke Derrick and Cameron Brown, placing in second.
Two years later saw the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup, a landmark event in the history of the sport, held in Frankfurt, Germany. The tournament now featured 21 teams from 5 continents, and saw the first time in history where the US was defeated, with the Australian Dropbears winning the grand final 150*-130, a team that again featured two USyd players - Luke Derrick and Natalie Astalosh.
Today there are over 25 official member nations in the IQA, each officiating tournaments and gameplay in their own countries, with quidditch also being played in smaller scales in many more countries all over the world. Continuing the bi-annual tradition, the 2018 IQA Quidditch World Cup is being held at the end of June in Florence, Italy.
A Brief History of Quidditch in Australia
Quidditch came to Australia in 2011, when the first QUAFL (then, Quidditch University Australian Federation League, now Quidditch United Australian Federation League. We just prefer Quidditch USyd: Australia's Favourite Legends) Cup, i.e. Australian Nationals, was held in Sydney.
Quidditch then grew rapidly in Sydney and Melbourne predominantly, with USyd joining in 2012, and each year's QUAFL Cup growing in number of teams. In the early days of the sport, the UNSW Snapes on a Plane were a dominant team, winning the first two QUAFL Cups before 2013 saw Perth Phoenixes cause a surprise upset. The national title has since been in the hands of various Melbourne Teams.
Geography demands that most quidditch occurs in-state however, with NSW and Victoria gradually developing their own state cups and leagues. Midwinter Cup hosted by Newcastle and Melbourne Mudbash however have remained landmark mid-year interstate events in the Australian quidditch calendar, among other events like QuidCamp and Fantasy draft tournaments.
In NSW, tournaments were initially known as Triwizard Tournaments, or simply Triwiz(es), since at the start, there were only three teams, and the name stuck for a many years. They were played monthly in a rough round robin fashion, with no strict league system or points tracking across the season. Quidditch NSW was founded in 2015 to properly manage quidditch in the state and officiate the new NSW Quidditch League (NQL), played across monthly tournaments with a March-April preseason and Finals in October. The inaugural league was jointly won by UNSW and Western Sydney in 2015 (due to a mutually forfeited finals..), and then our own USyd Unspeakables in 2016.
2016 also saw the implementation of state level quidditch by Quidditch Australia, in the form of Quidditch State of Origin, which became Quidditch Australia's State Shield in 2017. This was a series of three tournaments throughout the year where the NSW State Team (The Blue Tongue Wizards) and the Victorian State Team (The Victorian Leadbeaters) played a best of three games. This brought a new and highly competitive form of quidditch to Australia, with the best players from each state being selected and training as a state representative team, and Victoria eventually winning the series 5-4 games. 2017 saw the conversion of the series into a single event, held in Brisbane and now including the Queensland Funnelwebs, won again by Victoria.
Today, quidditch is played all over Australia, with strong established leagues in NSW, Victoria, and Queensland, with South Australia and Tasmania slowly developing as well. Western Australia also fields a league of its own, though geographical isolation makes interstate competition and growth difficult. The 2017 QUAFL Cup, held at the Australian Institute of Sport, featured 25 teams.