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Rounders (Irish: cluiche corr) is a sport played between two teams, each alternating between batting and fielding. The game originates in England most likely from an older game known as stool ball. The first nationally formalised rules were drawn up by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Ireland in 1884. The game is regulated by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Ireland and the National Rounders Association (NRA) in Great Britain. Both have different, although similar, game-play and culture. Competitions are held between teams from both traditions with games alternating between codes, often one version being played in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Game-play centers around innings where teams alternate at batting and fielding. A maximum of nine players are allowed to field at one time. Points ("rounders") are scored by the batting team by completing a circuit around the field through four bases or posts without being put 'out'.
The earliest nationally formalised rules of play were devised by the GAA in Ireland in 1884. In 1889, associations were formed in Liverpool and Scotland. The NRA was not formed until 1943. Baseball (both the "New York game" and the now-defunct "Massachusetts game") as well as softball are likely to share the same historical roots as rounders (see origins of baseball) and bears a resemblance to the GAA version of the game. Rounders is linked to British Baseball, still played in Liverpool, Cardiff and Newport. Although rounders is assumed to be older than baseball, literary mentions of "base-ball" pre-date those of rounders. Rounders is now played from school-level to international.
Although considered a school game, rounders is played at international level. Canada, England, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales compete against each other, and the Pakistan Rounders Association held its first national competition in 2006. There are plans to develop the game in other Asian countries and Zimbabwe also has a national body for rounders.
Equipment: The ball is hard with a cork centre, covered in white leather and comparable in size to a tennis ball (a standard tennis ball or "soft" rounders ball is often substituted in school games). In Ireland, a hurling ball called a sliotar is used. Bats are similar in shape to baseball bats and can be made from wood or aluminum. Four bases are laid out in a diamond shape and a fifth marker is placed in-line between home and second base indicating where the bowler stands.
Players: A team can have a maximum of 15 players and a minimum of 6. No more than 9 players can be on the field at one time. The fielding team must include one bowler and one backstop. Other outfield players take positions at each of the bases or elsewhere on the field.
Bowling: The bowler bowls the ball with an underarm pendulum action to the batter. It is deemed a "good" ball if it passes within reach on the striking side between the batter's knees and the top of the head (NRA). Otherwise, it is called a "no-ball" or "bad" ball. The ball is also "bad" if it is thrown into the batter's body or wide of the batting box. A batter may try to hit a bad ball but is not required to. A player is not out if a "no-ball" is caught.
Bases: When a batter leaves home base, each runner on a base may advance to the next and succeeding bases. A base runner cannot be declared out when occupying a base.
Scoring: A rounder is scored if a member of the batting team completes a circuit without being out. In NRA, a half rounder is scored if half a circuit is completed without being 'out' or if a batter has not hit the ball but makes it all the way to the fourth base.
A batter is out if:
- a ball hit is caught
- running to (NRA) or touching (GAA) a base that had been 'stumped' by a fielder.
The rules of rounders are laid-down by the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland. GAA rules are the earliest nationally organised rules of play, being formalised in 1884. This version of the game is most like baseball. It is played on a larger pitch compared to the NRA game and consequently uses larger bats and slightly larger balls. A GAA rounders pitch is a 70-metre (77-yard) square field and bases are 25 m (82') apart, compared to 12 m (39.5') for the NRA game. Foul ground runs along two adjacent sides of the pitch with home base at the intersection of these sides.
Players: Three substitutes may be made during play to the list of field players. There is no limit for the number of batters a team may list.
Equipment: The ball (sliotar) circumference is 22.7-25.5 cm (9"-10") and bats may be 70-110 cm (27"-43") long and up to 22 cm (8.6") in diameter. There is no limit on bat-weight for the GAA game. Bases are normally marked with temporary square mats 64 cm (28") wide for home-base and the pitchers stand and 46 cm (18") wide for all others.
Batting: Each batter is entitled to three good balls. A batter must try to hit good balls bowled but need not run on a hit. If a ball is struck that would otherwise be considered 'bad', the ball is then considered to be 'good.' If, on the first or second good ball a ball is hit into the foul ground, or the ball is hit but no running occurs, it is considered a 'dead' ball and the batter or runners may not advance. If a batter receives three bad balls then a 'walk-on' is called and all runners advance one base. The batter may run on any ball except a 'dead' ball.
A batter is out if:
- on a third good ball, the batter fails to swing
- on a third good ball, the batter fails to strike the ball and the catcher holds the ball before it touches the ground
- throwing or tossing the bat in a dangerous manner
- on a third good ball the batter strikes the ball in to the foul area
- the bowler or catchers view is obstructed for a second time (a warning will be issued on the first instance)
- deliberate contact is made with a fielder carrying the ball
- touching of a base that has been 'tagged' by another fielder carrying the ball (return to the previous base is allowed before touching it, if the previous base is still unoccupied)
- an attempt to occupy a base occupied by another batter (with the exception of 1st base, which another batter must vacate to make way for the current batter)
Batters must run in straight lines between bases and fielders must not obstruct their way or stand on bases. Not obeying this rule is considered unsporting behavior and may result in up to two bases being awarded to the batting team or a batter being sent out. Normally, one batter may not overtake another while running between bases, although there are exceptions to this rule.
Five to seven innings constitute a game, depending on the level of the match. Each batting team's inning continues until three outs are made.
The rules of rounders are regulated by the National Rounders Association in England. Games played under these rules use smaller bats, balls and are played on a smaller pitch (see diagram) compared to GAA games. The NRA rules also differ most from baseball or softball: bases are marked with long poles, which batters must keep in contact with and fielders must 'stump,' and only one 'good' ball need normally be thrown before a batter must run. 'Half-rounders' are also counted in scoring.
Players: The fielding team must field at a minimum six players. The total number of players on a team is limited to fifteen.
Equipment: The ball circumference must be 190 mm (7.5 inches) and the bat no more than 460 mm (18") in length and 170 mm (6.75" ) in diameter. The NRA places a weight-limit of 370g (13 ounces) on the bat. Bases are marked with poles, which must be able to support themselves and stand at a minimum on 1m (3 feet)
Batting: If a ball is good, batters' must try to hit the ball and must run regardless of whether the ball is hit, the batter must run on a good ball. If the ball is hit into the backward area, the batsman may not pass first post until the ball is returned to the forward area. A batter that hits a no-ball may not be caught-out or stumped at the first post. Batters may run on 'no-balls', but do not have to. Each batter except the last in each inning is entitled to receive one good ball; the last batsman is entitled to receive three unless caught out.
A half-rounder is scored if:
- fourth post is reached and touched before the next ball is bowled without hitting the ball
- second post is reached and touched before next ball is bowled after hitting the ball
- obstruction by a fielder/batter
- two consecutive no-balls to the same batter
A batter is out if:
- running inside the posts
- no contact with a post is made (using either hand or stick) while the bowler is preparing to bowl
- no contact with a post is made and the next post is stumped
- a foot is placed outside the front or back of the batting square before swinging at a good ball
- another runner is overtaken
Two innings constitute a game. Each batting team's inning continues until nine outs are made or the numbered innings is over.
Comparison with baseballEdit
The GAA version of the game is very similar to softball. The main difference is that the game is played with baseball-sized bats, balls and field. However, baseball-style gloves are not allowed.
The main differences between baseball and the NRA version of the game are that:
- the bat is much shorter and is usually swung one-handed
- misses/strikes aren't called, so there are no walks or strike-outs - each batter receives only one good ball and must run whether they hit it or not
- posts (which should be wooden, preferably encased in plastic sheaths) mark the bases
- the lay-out of the pitch is different, especially the location of home base
In rounders, bowlers pitch with an underarm pendulum action as in softball, as distinct from baseball.
- Gaelic Athletic Association
- Rounders Council of Ireland
- National Rounders Association
- Schools Rounders
- DMOZ - Rounders
- Welsh Baseball Union
Official rules of rounders:
- Ireland: GAA Rules for Playing Rounders
- England: NRA Simplified Rules (and information on purchasing official rule books)
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