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USQ Gameplay Department - Rulebook 15 Update

The USQ Gameplay Department announces updates for the 2021-22 season and future plans.

Update October 22, 2021

The updated rulebook text is available here. The summary of changes made to the text is available here and copied below:

  • Removal of references to periods
  • 1.2.3.- Gender rule language updated
  • 2.1.- Updated field dimensions to Rulebook 14. Addition of TD waiver to apply for shortened pitch dimensions for their tournament.
  • 3.3.4- Timeouts- procedure clarified for timeouts to be called during play or a stoppage.
  • 3.4.2- Updated to reflect 1 minute intermission after last possession at 20 minutes.
  • 3.4.4- Clarifies that substitutions will NOT be allowed during intermissions
  • 3.4.5- Updated to reflect the new endgame. Clarification on procedure when seekers are serving penalty time post snitch catch.
  • 4.4.1- The snitch catch has been updated to 35 points.
  • 4.4.3- Clarified closely timed plays for game ending snitch catches.
  • 5.2.6- Clarifications regarding headbeats have been added
  • 5.4.3.- Added language clarifying struck beater procedure.
  • 6.1.9.D- moved to 6.1.10 Limited contact from behind to clarify when contact from behind is legal.
  • 8.2.1- Snitch release clarified based on new endgame procedure.
  • 8.2.2- Defined new boundaries of play for the snitch.
  • 9.3.5- Removed periods and adjusted language
  • 10.1.5- Lead assistant referee responsibilities adjusted for the removal of snitch handicaps
  • 10.1.7- Scorekeeper responsibilities adjusted regarding the endgame.



The USQ Gameplay Department has been evaluating their plans for the season. In response to a changing membership landscape as well as team feedback, we are making changes to key components of the rules that were adjusted in USQ Rulebook 14 and 15. Additionally, this article lays out the department’s key priorities for rules and policies over the next year. 

The changes to the rulebook go into effect immediately. By September 23, the updated USQ Rulebook 15 will be available online. Updated referee and snitch runner tests will be available the week of September 13. 

A summary of just the rules changes is available here. Teams are encouraged to share this PDF with their players.


Rulebook 15 was released July 2021. It contains(ed) new rules based on projects started in 2018, outreach to teams and referees in the 2020- 21 season, and the rules suggestion form. During the spring of 2021, when many new changes were being finalized for Rulebook 15, we expected there to be a steep drop in team and player numbers compared to the 2019-20 season. At the time, universities were not yet set to reopen in the fall, teams had severely low numbers, and teams’ leadership and tournament directors did not know if they would be able host events during the 2021-22 season. From the end of August into early September, due to the work of regional coordinators and the membership department, USQ is happy to see that the state of the league is different than expected and the league may boast more members and teams than it did during the 2019-20 season. With the understanding that the league is at a different place now than during the Rulebook 15 implementation process of spring 2021, the USQ Gameplay Department, under the leadership of Gameplay Department Manager Christian Barnes, sought to solicit feedback from teams across the league regarding changes to the USQ ruleset and the 2021-22 season.


Working with regional coordinators, 101 teams were contacted and given a chance to provide feedback. The form was open to feedback regarding any rule changes, with specific questions focusing on USQ start up procedure, halftime stoppage, and endgame.


We were able to reach a great level of regional diversity and received responses from 62 teams.


Of the teams who responded, 36 are in the collegiate division (58.1%) and 26 are in the club division (41.9%).

Major Themes

Some consistent points brought up from the feedback were the importance of playtesting new rules prior to their adoption, confusion regarding the score cap rule, the status of the gender maximum rule, questions regarding the half time stoppage, concerns about pitch size, team referee changes (removal of snitch referee), and the complexity of the rule regarding head beats. Many people also indicated interest in providing feedback and support in the future to help USQ staff better understand the community’s perspective on rules and gameplay.

Next Steps

As we tabulated the feedback from the community, the USQ Gameplay Department used Slack and team meetings to discuss and plan next steps for this and next season, and map out the ramifications on official play. Some changes will take place immediately and affect the rules and gameplay of the 2021-22 season, and some changes will require more work, thought, and time to implement.

USQ Gameplay Changes for the 2021-22 Season

Effective immediately, the following changes will take place for the USQ ruleset. By September 23, the updated USQ Rulebook 15 will be available online. Updated referee and snitch tests will be available the week of September 13.

USQ Rulebook 15 Changes (Effective Immediately)

  • Field Size: The field dimensions for USQ official games will be returned to the Rulebook 14 dimensions. The pitch will be 36 yards wide by 66 yards long, and the player area will be 48 yards wide by 72 yards long. For tournaments with field size constraints, tournament directors will have the option of applying for a waiver to use the Rulebook 15 shortened pitch (where the pitch is 36 yards by 52 yards and the player area is 48 yards by 54 yards).  Tournament directors will be responsible for informing teams in advance if their tournament will be held under the shortened pitch dimensions.
  • Gender Rule: The gender maximum of four (4) will remain constant through the entirety of the game including snitch on pitch (SOP). The addition of the seeker will not change the gender maximum on the field.
  • Starting procedure: During the coin flip, the winner will be able to choose between (A) which side of the field their team defends OR (B) which 2 of the 4 balls they will possess on brooms up. The loser will receive the opposite choice. Once these choices are made, the remaining balls will be provided to the opposing team and they will set up at the opposite end of the field in their keeper zone.
    • There will be no halftime in the rules at this time. 
  • End game: USQ will be adopting a set score endgame similar to the one used under the Major League Quidditch (MLQ) ruleset. 
    • At 20 minutes, the last possession will begin for whichever team has possession of the quaffle. After the last possession, play will stop for a 1 minute intermission. During this intermission, seekers will report to the score table and the score table will establish the set score (leading score +70) with the Head Referee. 
      • For the purposes of the quaffle and last possession, the quaffle will only count as not being possessed by either team (at 20 minutes) if:
        • It is a dead ball after a goal (not yet possessed by the keeper to restart play).  
      • Last possession will continue until the quaffle is possessed by a member of the opposing team.
    • The snitch period will then begin, during which both teams will play until the set score is reached. Catching the snitch will earn a team 35 points. After a successful snitch catch, the seekers will leave the field, and teams will be allowed 1 substitution if necessary to maintain gender rule.

You can download a copy of these changes to share with your team here.

USQ Referee Team Development

Some aspects of USQ rules have raised questions that we believe require clarification instead of rule changes. The feedback we gained from the rules feedback form was considered alongside the referee feedback form sent out to head referees and lead assistant referees at the end of the 2019-20 season. We hope to standardize more of refereeing across the league and, in addition to the casebook, are finalizing the creation of the following developmental materials for release later this year:

  • One pagers with clarifications and procedures on:
    • Bludgers leaving the pitch boundary and adjudicating bludger recovery and eligible beater
    • Assessing and calling delay of game
    • Calling and abating advantage
    • Adjudicating head beats

We want to provide more transparency regarding the change of the lead assistant referee to replace the snitch referee. While many lead assistant referees are referees who are best at refereeing beater play, the purpose and expectation of a lead assistant referee is that they are at most a certified head referee serving in the lead assistant referee for the game, and at minimum a referee with the understanding of rules and procedures to the level of a head referee. With this expectation, we believe a lead assistant referee will be able to handle snitch play and the sometimes complex situations and procedural issues that arise in gameplay around the snitch, up to and including suggesting the replacement of a snitch runner that is violating the Snitch Code of Conduct. We will be keeping this change and assessing the impact at the end of the season. 

Plans for future USQ Seasons

The USQ Gameplay Department (including, but not limited to, rules team) will continue working to innovate the way that rule changes are made. We hope to gather feedback toward the end of the season and throughout the summer regarding changes for future seasons. More details will be available later this year regarding project support opportunities regarding future rulesets.

Topics the USQ Gameplay Department will continue considering:

  • Gender rule: we hope to gain feedback regarding the new gender rule and effects on collegiate teams and club teams with lower members and in areas with lower density of quidditch, with the hope of further expanding on the new gender rule.
  • Start Up Procedure: while we have decided to keep the coin flip for this season due to safety concerns, we hope to playtest different types of start up procedures and implement a more active and exciting start up procedure for future seasons. If you would be interested in playtesting a new start up procedure at an event you are hosting, please contact us at If you would like to provide a start up procedure suggestion, you may submit the explanation through our rules suggestion form.
  • Rulesets: we will continue discussions regarding the creation of separate rulesets for collegiate and club division play. We will also be working on the creation of a limited/non-contact ruleset that can be used for unofficial quidditch and/or youth quidditch.
  • D1 and D2 split: we will continue assessing the size of the league and considering a D1/D2 split for collegiate division, club division, or both.
  • Endgame: We hope that the endgame for USQ (Set Score +70 at 20 minutes) will contribute to teams having more ability to play and develop their entire roster. We plan to continue collecting data from tournament directors regarding scheduling and length of games in addition to feedback from team leaders regarding the endgame for potential changes in future seasons.

We are thankful to all conferences, team leaders, players, and volunteers that worked on this process. Most importantly, we want to thank the USQ Rules Team and their work at all phases of this process, the other teams within the USQ Gameplay Department for their support, and all the USQ Regional Coordinators who helped in community outreach regarding this process.

For questions about these changes, email