On Friday, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association publicly confirmed that this summer will see beta testing for a long-debated potential ruleset revision: the removal of minor penalties. Between April 10 and July 16, six bouts between WFTDA teams (see sidebar) will be played under this trial ruleset. However, only three of these games will be open to the public, all of them taking place at late June’s East Coast Extravaganza tournament near Philadelphia, PA: Charm City vs. Windy City, Maine vs Steel City, and Lehigh Valley vs River City.
All changes in the trial ruleset occur in the current Section 6, “Penalties” — the rest of the ruleset is identical to the most recent revision of May 2010. According to the WFTDA’s press release, the new Section 6 “eliminates the ‘minor impact’ level and shifts actions to either ‘no impact,’ meaning it does not result in a penalty, or ‘major impact,’ resulting in a one minute penalty.”
Download the new Section 6 (direct link to PDF).
No-Minors Beta Test Games
April 10 – Windy City @ Brewcity (non-public)
June 11 – Jet City Rollergirls @ Rat City Rollergirls (non-public)
June 25 – Charm City vs. Windy City (East Coast Extravaganza)
June 26 – Maine vs. Steel City (East Coast Extravaganza)
June 26 – Lehigh Valley vs. River City (East Coast Extravaganza)
July 16 – Rocky Mountain home teams (non-public)
Cutting the Track
A small but significant change to the track-cutting penalties favors agile blockers here. In the May 2010 ruleset, cutting a single player mid-pack is a minor and cutting multiple skaters is a major. In the trial ruleset, cutting a single teammate is a no-impact (6.11.8), but any other cutting is a major. This makes it impossible for jammers to trade a minor for relative position on a single problematic opponent as they can under the May 2010 ruleset.
For most contact penalties, actions categorized as “minor impact” in the May 2010 ruleset have been downgraded to “no impact,” although there are a few notable parts where the penalties have been upgraded. Specifically, “new” contact majors include:
6.5.8: “Extended touching” of an opponent with forearms or hands for three seconds or more
6.7.8: Multi-player blocks that impede an opponent in any way for any amount of time
6.9.11 – 6.9.13: Almost all engagement by stopped or clockwise-skating skaters that affects the recipient in any way is a major. The only exception is an assist by a stopped skater that “affects the recipient but does not improve the recipient’s relative position,” which is now a no-impact.
Out of Play Penalties
In the current ruleset, a no-pack situation triggers a warning, followed by a minor for failure to immediately attempt to reform the pack, followed by a major for continued failure to attempt to reform the pack. The trial ruleset takes out the middle step, meaning that a major penalty is assigned to any blocker who does not immediately attempt to return to the engagement zone following a no-pack call (6.10.11). This also applies to skaters who fail to return from out of bounds immediately during a no-pack situation (6.10.12).
Also upgraded from minor impact to major is entering the pack from the opposite direction it was left (for blockers only, obviously: 6.10.14 and 6.10.15).
Related to out of play action, skating out of bounds to avoid a block and skating out of bounds of one’s own accord are upgraded from minors to majors in the trial ruleset. (It is still legal to intentionally skate out of bounds to avoid unsafe track conditions).
Due to the catch-all nature of this section, a lot of the changes come in here.
Moved to no-impact:
6.13.5: False starts (for jammers or blockers) are not penalized in any way unless the false-starting player fails to yield advantage (6.13.5)
6.13.6 and 6.13.7: Too many skaters or more than one pivot for a team on the track during jam action; the extra skaters are sent off without penalty
6.13.8: Unsuccessfully calling off the jam
6.13.10: Re-entering from the penalty box area or after equipment malfunction in front of one teammate (to remain consistent with the changes to track cutting mentioned above)
6.13.12: Contact before the whistle is no-impact if recipients do not lose their “established starting position”
6.13.X: Finally, new language is added here from a previous clarification: a late hit (after the fourth whistle) is a no-impact penalty if the recipient is forced “slightly off balance, forward or sideways” but doesn’t fall
Upgraded to major:
6.13.9: Re-entering from the penalty box area or after equipment malfunction in front of one opposing pack skater (again, to remain consistent with the changes to track cutting mentioned above)
6.13.13: Leaving the penalty box during a timeout
6.13.14: Entering the penalty box area to communicate with a penalized skater
6.13.15: Removing any equipment other than a mouthguard while in the penalty box
6.13.X: New language from previous clarification: a late hit that forces the recipient “severely off balance, forward or sideways”