Rollerball Rules (2007)

This was some piece of research piecing this together. An odd one to put on this site, you might think, but someone somewhere might find it useful! From Death Ray.

Rollerball is a fictional game played in the short story ‘Roller Ball Murder’ (1973) by William Harrison, and in the two movies called Rollerball – 1975 and 2002. The story is set in the near future (2018 in the story and first film, 2005 in the remake).

Harrison wrote the rules of the game for his story to be deliberately over the top – indeed, one of the main points of the story’s game was to kill players. The rules in the original film evolved during the scripting of the movie, and then further during filming to the extent that it became actually playable. What they came up with is presented below.


(1) Play time – three (3) periods, each of twenty (20) minutes.

After each period, there is a two-minute rest period. If the score is tied after three periods, an overtime period is called and played until a team scores.

(2) The skaters and bikers can only move counter-clockwise around the track.

If a skater or biker is seen moving clockwise by the referee, a two-minute penalty is called against the offender. The player is sent off the track and cannot be replaced during the penalty period.

(3) After gaining possession of the ball, the offensive team cannot try for a score until the ball has traveled one revolution of the track. This revolution starts from the point of pick-up by the ball catcher.

(4) In the event that the offensive team ball carriers have been unable to try for a score within three revolutions of the track, the ball is considered ‘dead’ and must be guttered. A new ball is then fired from the cannon.

(5) The ball carrier is not allowed to deliberately hide the ball from the defensive team. The penalty for doing so is for the team to forfeit possession of the ball (the ball must be guttered).

(6) No more than ten (10) players per side can be on the track at any one time. Of the ten players on each team, only five are allowed to score goals. The three motor-cyclists cannot handle the ball. The two ball-catchers can only field the ball after it is fired and pass it to one of the five skaters, who can pass it to one another and attempt to score.

(7) No permanent goalie or goal defender is allowed in the scoring area. Defensive and offensive players can only be in the 6-foot-wide red scoring area when an offensive ball carrier is making a try for a goal.  If the ball carrier passes the red scoring area, the defensive players who are in the red scoring area must go after the ball carrier.

(8) The motor-cyclists are not allowed in the top half of the red scoring area. If a biker is seen in this area by the referee, a three-minute penalty is called against the offender.

(9) A motor-cyclist must not deliberately injure a skater. If he does so and is seen by the referee, a five-minute penalty is called against the offender.

(10) A skater must not deliberately injure a motor-cyclist. If he does so and is seen by the referee, a five minute penalty is called against the offender.

(11) The ball must not be used as an offensive weapon. Penalty: three minutes.

(12) The Infield personnel of each team are required to remove from the track as soon as possible injured players and damaged equipment.

(13) A defensive player is allowed to intercept a ball being passes, or pick up the ball that has been knocked out of the offensive ball carrier’s glove and can try to pass or score with the ball — providing the ball is on the track and has not reached the gutter.

(14) Each team may substitute players as long as there are not more than seven skaters and three motor-cyclists on the track at one time. This, however, does not apply to players removed from the track for penalties (there is no substitution allowed).


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