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March 2014 WFTDA Ruleset

As of tomorrow the March 2014 Updated WFTDA Ruleset will take full effect. Since publication in March skaters everywhere have been scouring over the changes, trying to make sense of what this means for the game and how to capitalise during their own gameplay. While some skaters are pushing the boundaries during training, others are erring on the side of caution. To make the transition a little easier, RDA has posed some questions to four premier refs from the Sun State Roller Girls.
 

RUBIX KRUG

Which rule change do you think will have the biggest impact on gameplay and why?
Clockwise Blocks (No Impact/No Penalty):

5.9.15 - Any block by a stopped or clockwise-moving skater that forces the receiving opponent off balance, forward, backward, and/or sideways, but does not cause an opponent to lose relative position, or the initiator or a teammate to gain relative position.

Previously it was hard to skate back through the pack without getting a penalty. Opponents would position themselves to receive a clockwise block and draw a penalty. Now with "Major" impact required skaters can push harder through the pack in the wrong direction. Opponents no longer try to position themselves to stop this, they now go for the head on collision type block as a physically hard hitting block which will hopefully either catch someone off guard or wear someone down to create an advantage late in the game. That's a big change in game play if you ask me.

Which change do you think will be the most challenging to call as a ref?
No Pass/No Penalty

5.11.8 - A skater, having gone out of bounds or straddling, that briefly and unintentionally completely returns to the track on one skate in their efforts to remain or return out of bounds.

The forgiven cutting. There's a lot involved in getting that call right, there's some very specific requirements which a ref needs to check off in his head whenever he sees that potential cut. Because it's something we have to think about a bit more it will take that extra half second to call cuts. Also while we're concentrating more on the maybe cut, our minds are less able to think about and track other things. In time this will become more automated like other things we do as refs, but for a while this is going to be very distracting not just when it happens, but when it almost happens as well.

What's one piece of advice you would give skaters when implementing the changes?
My advise for playing under this new ruleset is to manage your penalties. With 30 second penalties I've seen skaters foul out from every game I've reffed. As the negative impact from committing a penalty has been reduced it may seem more "worth it” to commit a penalty. I think games will be won or lost in the last quarter of the game. Will you be there when your team needs you?

 

RAWSHARK

Which rule change do you think will have the biggest impact on gameplay and why?
30 second penalties Less time in the box means skaters have less time to take advantage of power jams, and blocker-walls returning to full-strength faster. Also - more time on track means a higher risk of skaters fouling out.

Which change do you think will be the most challenging to call as a ref?
Not saying 'major' after each penalty This habit has pretty much etched itself into my brain - undoubtedly I'll slip up a few times while I train myself out of it.

What's one piece of advice you would give skaters when implementing the changes?
Support your referees. Read the rules, discuss them with your referees, and encourage a safe environment at scrimmage where both skaters and referees can make mistakes, laugh them off, and learn from them. Great derby can't exist without both great skaters and great officials.

 

NUMB3R CRUNCH3R

Which rule change do you think will have the biggest impact on gameplay and why?
I think the changes to the cutting rules will definitely have the biggest impact. If you've ever seen a skater paused while straddling the line, staring at their feet and trying to figure out which one they should pick up to avoid a cutting penalty, you'll understand what I mean. With the new rules, there's some leeway such that if she picks up the wrong foot momentarily, but is clearly intending to stay out of bounds and yield, the cut will no longer be called. It's part of an overall movement to minimise the 'technical' penalties that can be applied, so that the skaters can just play derby without fear of the tiny mistake.

Which change do you think will be the most challenging to call as a ref?
I think the updated direction of gameplay rules are quite a challenge to call - on one hand, they've updated the impact spectrum to be in line with other penalties, so that a skater needs to go down, out of bounds or otherwise lose relative position for a penalty to be called. On the other hand, they've still cracked down on intentional and prolonged clockwise and stopped blocking - so that actively maintaining a stopped or clockwise-moving position is still penalisable, regardless of impact.

Effectively, it means as a ref that you're watching for an 'impact' factor, but you're also watching for a force/duration factor in the same action - too much focus on one will make you miss the other.

What's one piece of advice you would give skaters when implementing the changes?
My main advice to skaters would be to push the boundaries - within the limits of friendly and safe gameplay, of course! Particularly at home scrimmages designed for practice rather than game results, read up on the new rules and then 'test' them - if nothing else, it allows you to check if your interpretation is the same as the refs', but it also helps you to determine exactly where the line is for a penalty call, and that serves to broaden your range of 'safe' actions confidently.

 

TIPSY MOO

Which rule change do you think will have the biggest impact on gameplay and why?
I believe the introduction of 30-second penalties will have the most impact on gameplay. The reduction in time served by a Jammer reduces the total number of scoring passes likely to occur, and change the nature of power jams as we have seen them in the past. This could lead to smaller points differentials and encourages closer games.

Which change do you think will be the most challenging to call as a ref? 
The most challenging calls to make are those which require the application of a referee’s discretion. Not only do these calls require a thorough and practiced knowledge of the rules, but also an understanding of the way the most experienced WFTDA certified referee might approach making the call. The feedback and support of referee peers, and continual personal development play an important role in aligning the individuals understanding and the appropriate application of discretion. For the latest rule change, this would most apply to ‘flopping’.

What's one piece of advice you would give skaters when implementing the changes? 
Not to feel too overwhelmed by the changes. It’s fundamentally the same game, now with some very clear clarifications around actions that might have been murky in the past. This is a vastly smaller rule change that the removal of minors, and should be welcomed by player and referees alike.
 

Photo Credit: Lara and Susie Photography

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