Today I’d like to talk a little bit about how the teams are structured, and how they will play the game.
A match is typically composed of eight five-man teams, with three players on the rink at any one time, one substitute, and a coach who may act as a substitute in case of injury. The players on the rink are divided into two offensive players, and one defensive player.
There are two cannonballs in play at any one time, one representing each team. For example, the teams may be playing with a red cannonball and a white cannonball. The red cannonball for one team, and the white cannonball for the other team.
The cannonballs will be fired from canons that extend into the track at a space just behind the two goals sets at each corner of the oval playing rink. One can and will be dedicated to firing red cannonballs while the other one will be dedicated to firing white cannonballs. Each time a cannonball is placed in the goal, a cannonball of the same color is fired from the respective Canon as a replacement, keeping two balls on the rink at any one time.
To set up for play, two offensive players line up on a start line beside the Canon containing their color of cannonballs. A defensive player from the other team lines up between them, with the result that there are three players at each of the two starting lines. To begin play, the chief umpire simultaneously fires both cannons onto the rink.
The first time that the Cannon’s fire, the reaction is similar to that of the kickoff. Each of the two sets of players immediately began to race after an attempt to gain control of their respective ball. Each defenseman simultaneously attempts to prevent the opposing teams offense players from gaining control of the ball and find a way to pass it off to his own team so they can prevent their opponents from scoring.
Hard physical blocks by one player onto another are allowed, however bodily contact must be made with a flat portion of the body, such as a side, a hip or a forearm. Pointed portions of the body, such as an elbow, a fist, shoulder or knee, are prohibited and can result in expulsion from the round in play.
Play continues nonstop until one team scores. At that point in time the round ends and the next team in the lists comes onto the track to battle the winner of the previous round. At this point the cannons are reloaded and the players will line up begin a new round.
During play, unless there is an injury requiring a player to be from the track, one substitution is allowed. The substitute player is the one makes the call, which is made by them moving to the edge of the infield and tagging the player they wish to replace. The substitute player may not move onto the track until the on track player exits into the infield. The substitute player must enter onto the track at the point where the relieved player exits. They may not reenter track until the next round in which their team plays.
This description has been a little mundane, but I guarantee you it will get interesting, especially if you think about the intensity of play. No rest until a score and only one substitution, all the while there is a hard-hitting combat style action as two teams seek to control two cannonballs careening around the track speeds reaching 100 mph.