The sport of Gvekuu: rules of the game
A number of team games are popular across Ewlah. But by far the most popular spectator sport in the Gevey speaking regions of Balhe Society is the game of gvekuu. This sport is played professionally in the Land of Cantage, and semi-professionally in many other Gevey-speaking areas. Variants of the sport can also be found in other Balhe Lands.
The game itself is simple: two teams face each other across the field of play, and try to score more goals than their opponents. The game can be rough and bloody at times, especially in the professional leagues. Top games can attract crowds of over 50,000 spectators, and the gvekuu stadium is a central landmark in many of the towns that host a professional team. A number of teams are owned by their host town, while others are financed by guild collectives. Only a handful of teams are privately owned and operated by rich families. The attraction of playing the sport professionally is not only the pay (which compares reasonably with other work): many star players are treated as heroes by their supporters.
The professional game is organised into three leagues of 12 teams. Each team plays the other teams twice - home and away - over the course of a 22 round season. Teams that win at home gain two points, while an away win will bring three points. A drawn match gives both teams a point each. The team at the end of the season with the most points wins the league. The bottom two teams of the Master league are relegated to the Journeyman league, with their place being taken in the Master league by the top two teams in the Journeyman league. A similar promotion and relegation operates between the Journeyman and the Apprentice league.
The current league structure was inaugurated in Orbit 446 (all dates given in this section of the Encyclopaedia are New Calendar), and has continued unchanged since that time. More information on previous winners, the current season and the 36 teams that compete in the professional leagues can be found by clicking on the links on the left of this webpage.
The rules of gvekuu
- The field of play shall be grass covered earth, roughly level, with no sharp stones or other such objects present on the pitch. The boundary of the field of play shall be an oval, between 120m and 150m in length on the long axis and between 80m and 100m in length along the short axis.
- Two goals shall be marked out on the pitch, parallel to the short axis of the field of play and between 15m to 20m from the apex of the long axis. The goal shall be 2m in length, with a semi-circular hoop structure 1m in radius marking the vertical limits of the goal. A loose net will be attached to the goal structure to aid in the determination of whether the ball has crossed the goalline for a goal. Around each goal will be marked a circular zone 4m in radius, which will be known as the defence zone.
- Two teams of 12 players shall compete on the field of play. Each team shall field a minuimum of 4 male and 4 female players at all times. At no time may a team have more than 12 players on the field of play - should this happen, the opposing team shall be awarded a penalty goal and the game shall be halted until the additional player leaves the field of play, with the opposing team restarting the game with posession of the ball. Fielding fewer than 4 male or 4 female players at any one time shall lead to the same penalty.
- Each team may substitute any player at any time, with a maximum of 15 substitutions for each team during the course of the game.
- Each player is permitted to carry and use a wooden baton, which shall be no longer than 0.8m in length. The baton must be straight, and may be flattened at one end. The maximum diameter of the baton should be no more than 0.05m at any point along its length. The baton shall have no sharp edges or corners. Fielding an illegal baton will lead to the award of a penalty goal to the opposition team for each illegal baton.
- The purpose of the game is to score goals by shooting a ball through the opposing team's goal (crossing the goalline in either direction). The ball shall be an inflated bladder enclosed in a stitched leather casing, which shall be 0.12m in diameter. Players can pass the ball to each other either by kicking it, throwing it or hitting it with their baton. A player may not pick up the ball and carry it for more than two strides - such an offence will lead to the game being stopped and posession of the ball being given to the opposing team at the point where the offence was committed (or on the perimeter of the defence zone if the offence took place within the defence zone).
- Each game shall last a total of 70 dhoeruush, divided into two halves of 35 dhoeruush. Play starts with the ball placed at the centre of the field of play and players gathered on the perimeter of their defence zone. At the end of the first half, teams will swap defence zones. It is the privelige of the home team to choose which zone to defend in the first half.
- Players should make all attempts to keep the ball in the field of play. When the ball passes out of the field of play, then the game shall stop and possession of the ball handed to the team innocent of knocking the ball out of play, with play starting again at the point where it crossed the perimeter line.
- Players may go anywhere on the field of play at any time, except that they are not permitted to enter their opponents defence zone - such trespass leading to play being stopped and the opposing team being awarded the ball to play from within their defence zone. A maximum of two defending players may enter their own defence zone at any point in time: should any further defenders enter the defence zone, then play will stop and the opposition team shall be awarded posession of the ball, to be taken at a point of their choosing on the defence zone perimeter line.
- Players should avoid physical contact with opposing players. Inadvertantly fouling a player from the opposing team will lead to play being stopped and the fouled player being awarded posession of the ball at the point where the foul took place. Malevolently attacking a player from the opposing team will lead to the perpetrator's dismissal from the field of play with no substitution permitted.
- In all cases where a team is awarded posession of the ball, the opposition should withdraw a minimum of 10m from the point where the ball is to be played, except within the defence zone, where the distance should be a minimum of 1m. Following a goal, the team conceding the goal restart the game from their defence zone with all opposition team players in their own half of the field of play.
- The match shall be controlled by an appointed referee, whose every decision is final. The referee may be supported by up to three game judges, who may advise the referee on when the ball goes out of play, when a goal is scored, when a player fouls another player or carries the ball, and on the number of players (and their sexes) present on the playing field, and within the defence zones at any point of time. Dissent with the referee or game judge can lead to the ball being awarded to the opposing team at the point where the dissent took place, or in extreme situations (such as attacking a referee or game judge) lead to the offending player being dismissed from the field of play with no substitution permitted.