London Rollergirls battle for the Hydra

London Brawling All-Stars vs Stockholm Roller Derby All Stars. Photography by John Hesse

London Brawling All-Stars vs Crime City Roller A team. Photography by John HesseThis week, I received an email from Brat Worst of the London Rollergirls with some rather exciting news that I might want to write about. This got me wondering why I hadn’t written about roller derby before. I mean, as a sport dominated by LGBTQ skaters (LRG regularly participate in the Pride in London parade), why would it not be on my radar? Seeing as one of my favourite bloggers – Gemma from Retro Chick and Lipstick, Lettuce & Lycra – both plays and writes about roller derby, I genuinely can’t believe it hadn’t occurred to me to feature the sport here on Rarely Wears Lipstick.

So, on to the good news! The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) has announced that London Rollergirls have qualified for the 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs in Montréal this September. It’s the fifth time that LRG have crossed the pond to battle for the most coveted title in international roller derby, the Hydra.

Currently ranked third in the WFTDA rankings, London Rollergirls were the first European team to travel across the Atlantic to participate in Playoffs, transforming their reputation from unknown outsiders to one of the most competitive and ambitious roller derby teams in the world. London Rollergirls goes into the Playoffs at Montreal as the No 1 seeded team. They have to win their first two games to guarantee them a place at the Championships, but having previously beaten Detroit, Bay Area Derby, Montreal and Boston in previous match ups London will definitely be the ones to watch.

London Brawling All-Stars vs Stockholm Roller Derby All Stars. Photography by John HesseIf, like me, you don’t know much about how roller derby is played – the sum total of my knowledge comes from the movie Whip It – you’ll be glad to know that Brat Worst also sent a short summary to help demystify it a bit. The sport consists of two teams of four defensive players (blockers) and one jammer – the point scorer. The jammers score one point for each opponent they lap as long as they pass that player in bounds and without penalties. Blockers play vital offensive and defensive roles, helping their jammer get through the pack while simultaneously working together to block the opposing team’s jammer. Sounds pretty straightforward when you see it written down, but it’s such a fast moving sport that I think it might be tricky for me to keep up! There’s only one way to find out though, and that’s to go along to a game.

This year marks the most internationally inclusive International WFTDA tournaments in the sport’s history, with teams from the UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden, the United States, and Norway. The following teams will be joining London Rollergirls in Montréal to compete for a spot at the WFTDA Championships in November. The top three teams from each of the four international D1 Playoffs will advance to Championships to compete for the sport’s highest honor: the Hydra trophy and the title of WFTDA Champions.

1. London Rollergirls, London, England, UK
2. Texas Rollergirls, Austin, Texas, USA
3. Bay Area Derby, San Francisco, California, USA
4. Montreal Roller Derby, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5. Dallas Derby Devils, Dallas, Texas, USA
6. Boston Roller Derby, Boston, Massachusettes, USA
7. Kallio Rolling Rainbow, Helsinki, Finland
8. Sun State Roller Girls, Browns Plains, Queensland, Australia
9. Detroit Derby Girls, Detroit, Michigan, USA
10. Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, Denver, Colorado, USA

Those who can’t travel to Quebec, or to November’s Championships in Portland, Oregon, can still cheer on their team from home via the WFTDA’s broadcast channel, WFTDA.tv. Good luck ladies!

Images via the London Rollergirls Flickr photostream. Photography © John Hesse.

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Image of bisexual pride flag by Peter Salanki.