college football, or Winkies as it affectionately known by many of the people that play it is a ball game that is only played at Winchester College
The first oddity of the game is the pitch. This is perhaps 70 yards long, by 20 yards wide. Along both sides there is 10 foot high netting designed to prevent the ball from going out of play. It used to be made of canvas, hence the name for the pitch, canvas, but was changed to netting to allow easier spectating. about a yard in from the sides of the pitch there is a rope suspended at waist level from wooden posts of the same height There are nine posts in total, and they are often referred to when quoting distances. The area between the ropes and the netting is describes as in ropes. The lines at either end of the pitch are called "worms" (both singular and plural). The ground is covered in grass at the beginning of a season (Jan-Mar) but after a week or two becomes a churned and muddy wasteland.
The rules are rather complicated but are based on a few simple rules. The tactics, however vary wildly depending on the number of people that are playing. The game started life as twenty two as side, but the only numbers that are played with now are fifteen, ten, nine or six players per side.
Like rugby, players can be described as either forwards or backs. The forwards are called the "hot" as it is they that take part in the scrum, or hot. The player in the centre of the front row is called the OP. Backs divide into hotwatches (think scrum-halves if you know rugby) and kicks.
At the start of a game, and at some other times there is a hot. The ball cannot be heeled by the OP of a team until such a time at which his centre of gravity is over the ball. If the hot is driven to a position in which a player is touching ropes then the hot must reform between the posts at which is was called.
The hot is important, because it is a hot that is usually called when an infringement of the rules takes place. The team that has broken the rules must give ground by a certain number of posts depending on the infringemet.
The most important rule is this: a team may not kick a ball again after it has been kicked until it has been touched by the opposing team. Exeptions to the rule exist though. If the ball goes backwards after a touch then another player on his team(not the player who has touched it) may kick it but this must be a "down kick". A down kick is one that does not go above five feet in height. If a player kicks the ball as hard as he can then he (and only he) may attempt to kick it again. Percieved force is entirely at the disgression of the referee. While this may seem a useless exeption, the thickness of the mud means that it may only be possible to make the ball go a few feet. If the ball is kicked into a player froma very short distance (less than a foot) this is a "plant" and that player may kick it.
The second most important rule is the "behind your side" rule. When a player from your team kicks the ball you must return to behind the point at which he has kicked it before you may take any further part in the game. It is important not to obstruct anyone on your way back.
While these two rules make up the foundation of the rules there are many complicated issues still to be discussed, the first, scoring.
Points are scored if the ball goes over your opponents worms. Three points are scored from a goal but these are uncommon. If the ball touches a defending player, or goes over in ropes, or is driven over in the hot a "behind" is scored. This is only worth one point, but can be converted for another two. To convert, the kicks of the scoring team stand out in the field, and all the other players must stand behind worms. One player of the team that has conceded a goal must kick the ball. It must not go up, must go at least two posts, and cannot go less than two posts before going into ropes. An infringemet results in a free "bust" for the kicks of the scoring team. To bust, the player, holding the ball in their hands may go up to three steps before punting the ball. Like most kicks it is not an offence for the ball to go up. A conversion is worth two points.
If the ball is caught during the course of normal play one of three things may happen. If the ball has come of one of your teams players, or has come out of ropes then it must be placed on the ground and kicked normally. A bust may be taken otherwise. If the other team are within one post, and running at the player to tackle him (the only time this may be done) he may run with the ball. At any time, compulsilarily after he has passed the last player a bust must be taken.
If the ball goes over the side then instead of a normal hot any player on the team that has not commited the offence may call a "pickering" or hot on ropes. In this, the ball is placed in ropes and the hot from both teams attempt to kick it upfield. Normal rules such as behind your side, and the ban on dribbling apply. The non kicking players usually push on their front may as this helps drive the ball up the pitch.
That's probalby all the rules that you'd actually have to know to be able to play, but there are many other facts associated with the game, some of which I'll reveal here.
-While winkies may seem boring and static by the rules it is a very dynamic game, as hot players are always running towards the ball, both to put the opposing player off, and to kick it from as short a distance as possible.
-The players on the bench, who may not be brought on unless there is an injury (fairly common) are referred to as "on dress".
-Winchester college subdivides into three groups for playing the sport. Commoners and OTH each five houses with about three hundered people to call on, an College, the scholars house of about seventy. The biggest two matches are fifteens and sixes, played with the respective numbers of players between commmoners and OTH. College play both groups at both tens and sixes, though the first team for the larger force is not usually put out.
-The knitted scarf awarded for playing is known as a pussy. This is white, with stripes at each end of the groups colour. Commoners: red, OTH: brown, and College: blue. These are also the colours on the shirts ("zephyrs") of the players.
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