by Caitriona Tracey, Press Officer for the East Coast Cyclones;
Wicklow’s newest sports team.
Roller Derby is the fastest-growing sport in the world. Since 2007 nine leagues have been started in Ireland alone. roller Derby is an (over 18’s only!) contact sport played on roller-skates where two packs of 5 skate
around a track while simultaneously trying to help a ‘Jammer’ from their own team through the pack & blocking the opposition’s Jammer from doing so. It is tough, athletic and most of all; entertaining!
Roller Derby started in the U.S. in the 1930’s. It was originally a theatrical and scripted sport (along the lines of WWF wrestling), however that has now changed & Derby has become an extremely athletic and demanding contact sport!
The game (or ’bout’) is played with two teams of 5 players. One player from each team is designated the “Jammer”. The remaining eight players are blockers. On the first whistle the pack of blockers start to skate around the track. On the second whistle the jammers chase up behind them and try to get through the pack. The jammers get one point for each member of the opposing team they pass. However the blockers try & stop the jammers by either knocking them down or knocking them off track. As it is so physical all players must wear knee, elbow, gum and wrist guards plus a helmet.
The sport has a strong underground ethos to it. Many girls choose
to play wearing fishnets and tatoos and piercings are par-for -the-course. Everyone has their own ‘Derby Name’ i.e we have a SmackBeth, Huricane Caitriona, Dee-Railer etc. These nick-names are a part of all leagues worldwide.
Roller Derby is the fastest growing sport in the U.K (no statistics for Ireland yet). There are eight leagues in Ireland at the moment with more starting all the time. Men’s teams are growing in popularity in
the U.K and on the continent but there are none here as of yet. It is currently under review for acceptance into the 2020 Olympics. Ireland came 8th out of the 20 countries to compete in the last Derby World Cup, so as a country we seem to produce good players!
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