Invented, along with a young, lightning-scarred wizard, in an Edinburgh café, Quidditch might seem quintessentially British. It’s played on broomsticks. It’s a tad rough, but sportsmanlike. It has a 170-page rulebook.
But the British, it seems, are doomed to fall at the final hurdle in all the sports they’ve created. This time, the defeat may be even more painful: France snatched the victory from the Brits in the final of the very first European Quidditch Games. (Not to be confused with the European Quidditch Cup, which took place in April).
Played amongst the olive groves and hills of Tuscany in Italy, the game has shed some of the grimmer aspects lent to it by its origins as a dank boarding-school sport for wizards. But the competitive spirit was strong. Twelve teams battled over the course of the games. In the last head-to-head, the French keeper broke a shoulder and left the pitch in an ambulance. But his team won the day.
Quidditch was originally conceived of as an airborne game for the Harry Potter series of books by British author JK Rowling, but was re-worked to allow for ground-based running back in 2005 at a college in Vermont. Each player holds a “broomstick” between his or her legs. There are five balls in total: a quaffle, three bludgers, and the “snitch,” which is attached to one of the players’ shorts and must be snatched during the action.
France, which won the final 90-50, will now have its sights set on the Quidditch Global Games, organized by the International Quidditch Association for muggles the world over.