Last weekend I Head Reffed an Interleague Bout run under the No Minors rule set. Full disclosure: One of the teams in the bout was an non-WFTDA affiliated co-ed team. Full disclosure 2: But the doods on the co-ed team were not your hulking MRDA types, so I don’t think it affected play all that much.
I looked at this as a chance to get a better feel for how No Minors would really play out. Scrimmages are nice, but everyone has a different edge on game day.
The game went very smoothly. Right off the top we noticed how few penaltys were being called. I attribute much of this to the skating skills of both teams. It’s very hard to force a track cut on a skater who can skillfully stay inbounds. It’s also very difficult to register Major Impact on a skater who can skillfully absorb a big hit.
Forearms and Back Blocks were everywhere, but not causing loss of relative position.
Pack play did not seem to suffer. In fact, from my view at the front of the pack, it almost seemed like there was MORE pack play rather than less. Maybe this was because players were not cycling off and on the track so much from minors.
I found this rule set relatively easy to Referee. I checked in with the other IPR who is very experienced in every evolution of the WFTDA ruleset. Throughout the game we checked with each other and kept agreeing “yes, looks sloppy to Refs used to nit-picking minor impact, but it was not unsafe or bad derby”.
We did have players foul outs. I think they were mainly from confusion with understanding the Out of Play and Illegal Procedures sections of the rules. Neither of the skaters had amassed seven box trips from big ugly hits.
At the afteparty I polled the WFTDA skaters who had participated. Overwhelmingly they came out in favor of playing under this rule set again.
This coming weekend there are two sanctioned bouts at ECDX that will be played in front of large crowds. I will be very curious to see the reaction by the crowd and the players.
If the skaters decide this is the rule set they want to play by, I won’t have objections to Refereeing the games.
I love lining up on the line next to a pivot as “just a blocker.” But really—I only like doing that as a way to push the boundaries. I also had fun being grabby with the other team. It is fun to do things we are not normally allowed to do. But, that doesn’t mean I think they belong in derby.
In the end—my question is how much should rules be modified to make it easier on the refs/fans vs. keeping some of the original game in tact? If we are not allowed to elbow—we are not allowed to elbow.
Also—I think the direction of gameplay majors need to be worked out. Why in this section is something with very minor impact elevated to a Major while slamming in to someone in the back (who happens to be sturdy) is A-OK? (When does a stumble become major impact?)
Second Night scrimmaging with the no minors rule set.
This time I stayed as Front Pack Ref the whole night. The skaters we much less cautious and were pushing the boundaries of things that are minor penaltys under current rules.
Elbows, forearms and back blocks, oh my! The beta rule set has a clear line drawn on impact (loss of position) so much of this was no impact. The play looked sloppy compared to regular scrimmaging. Maybe this is just individual players thinking more about experimenting than pack play.
Two things stood out in the night.
False starts are a pain in the neck, ref wise. Since there is no penalty for lining up in front of the Pivot if you yield, entire teams were taking over the line for the whistle. Unyil there is a clarification on what to call, we gave individual false start warnings that would escalate to majors if they didn’t yield (as per the rule). However, yelling Color, Number Penalty, False Start three or four times a jam got hectic quickly. Maybe we don’t yell the warning? Just silently observe and issue the major if they don’t yield?
The new language on Failure to Reform also made for at least one very interesting jam. The new rules are very specific that in a no pack situation ALL skaters must immediately move to reform the pack and will each be issued majors for a failure to do so. Skaters haven’t caught on yet that there is no nuance to this rule. You are either showing effort to reform or you are not. In a series of no packs over a two minute jam the penalty box filled, got a waiting list and filled again. If these rules are adopted, I’m sure teams will adapt quickly to what needs to be done. When the Refs arms go up in the air, skate forward with effort if you are in the back, and if you’re in the front, hit those brakes!
Tomorrow I’m head reffing an inter league bout that will be played under the beta rule set. I’ll report back.
I love to skate. I love to see my teammates pull that perfect hit. Or pull our jammer through on the inside while creaming the jammer right behind her.
I love meeting amazing people that I would NEVER have come across without derby.
Why do you love derby?
Aside from it being the best sport to watch EVAR?
I got hooked when I saw two fierce competitors hit the floor right in front of me. They got up and gave each other the stink eye and when back to battling on the track with ferociousness. As soon as the last whistle blew, they hugged.
That’s how I knew I needed to be a part of facilitating this sport for the people that play it.