French side’s main keeper breaks his shoulder in tough 90-50 final of Harry Potter-inspired tournament held in Italian hillside
France have been named European Quidditch champions after sweeping aside the British favourites in an intense Harry Potter-inspired final played out in the Italian countryside.
The 90-50 result sees the French win the first European Quidditch Games, hosted this weekend in Sarteano, a hillside town in Tuscany. The champions beat 11 teams, all on broomsticks, in the sport invented by author JK Rowling for her Harry Potter book series.
Dennis Jordan, captain of the French side, on Sunday said both sides played a “really tough, really intense game”. “Our main keeper was injured and broke his shoulder; he’s now in the ambulance. It was a legal tackle; both teams played aggressively but within the rules,” he said from the sidelines.
The winning side is now looking ahead to the Quidditch Global Games, to be held next year, with the location still to be decided by an international governing body.
A rather complicated sport, Quidditch involves seven players per team, five balls and a total of six hoops which serve as goals. Each match starts with the referee shouting “Brooms up!” and comes to an end once a tennis ball “snitch”, attached to a player’s shorts, has been caught.
Speaking before the final, Jan Mikolajczak, one of four players from the University of Oxford, said the real-life game is surprisingly similar to the fictional version. “Other than the fact we’re not flying, it’s full contact and quite rough, just as it was in the books,” he said.
Competitors must abide by a 170-page rule book, with organisers making sure each team has the correct equipment. “Most of us play on broomsticks provided by the tournament. A couple have brought their own because they’re more comfortable,” Mikolajczak said.
Despite the strict rules, Giulio Cioncoloni, a volunteer with organisers at the Cultural Association l’Ombrico, said the game is informal and incredibly fun. “It’s a beautiful sport because it’s one of strength. But at the end of the game, everyone hugs. It’s a great community. Quidditch is a sport for everyone,” he said.
Jordan agreed a jovial atmosphere dominated, despite injuries, with the French team celebrating alongside their British rivals. He hoped their win in Tuscany would help raise the profile of Quidditch in France: “We expanded a lot last year and we will continue next year. Winning the European games may influence people to get involved.”
Despite hosting the tournament, few residents of Sarteano had heard of Quidditch before the players descended on their town.
The sport is becoming popular in Italy, however, with nine teams across the country including two in Rome. But the Italians have some way to go before they can be named regional champions, after the national team was knocked out of the tournament by the Belgians.
This article was written by Rosie Scammell, for theguardian.com on Sunday 26th July 2015 19.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010