|Highest governing body||International Ringette Federation (IRF)|
|Contact||No contact, incidental only|
|Type||Female winter team sport|
|Equipment||Ringette ring, ringette stick, ice hockey skates, ringette girdle with pelvic protector and other protective gear|
|Venue||Standard Canadian ice hockey rink with ringette markings|
Ringette is a non-contact winter team sport played on ice hockey rinks using ice hockey skates, straight sticks with drag-tips, and a blue, rubber, pneumatic ring designed for use on ice surfaces. The sport is among a small number of organized team sports created exclusively for female competitors. Although ice hockey rinks are used, ringette rinks use markings which are specific to the sport and ringette's strategic play bears a closer resemblance to basketball than it does to ice hockey.
The sport was created in Canada for girls in 1963 by Sam Jacks from West Ferris, Ontario and Red McCarthy from Espanola, Ontario. Since then, its popularity has steadily grown to the point where in 2018, more than 50,000 people had registered to play the sport. Ringette is especially popular in Canada and Finland, having come to prominence as national pastimes in both countries. On the international stage, Canadian teams and Finnish teams have proved to be the most successful and are regularly at the top of the rankings.
Several other countries currently organize and compete in the sport including Sweden, the United States, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The sport has continued to grow and has spread to other countries including the United Arab Emirates.
The premier international competition for ringette is the World Ringette Championships (WRC) which is organized by the International Ringette Federation (IRF). The sport is also played at the semi-professional level in Canada (National Ringette League), in Finland (SM–Ringette), and in Sweden (Ringette Dam-SM), as well as the university and college level. In Canada, the sport is a part of the Canada Winter Games programme and the annual Canadian Ringette Championships serve as the country's premiere competition for the sport's elite amateur athletes. The sport's first international tournament was hosted in Finland in 1986.
Two different floor variants of ringette are also played: in-line ringette, and gym ringette.
Two teams compete against each other on an ice rink whilst wearing ice hockey skates and utilizing other ringette-specific equipment. The objective is to score more goals than the opposing team by shooting a blue, hollow, rubber ring into the opponent's goal net. Skaters use a long straight stick with a tapered end and a drag-tip. Ringette Canada creates the "Official Rules and Case Book of Ringette" for participating parties competing in Canada; it contains the forms, rules, and codes which are used in the sport nationwide.
Intentional body contact is not allowed in ringette, though incidental contact may occur. Body checking and boarding are penalized and fighting is strictly forbidden by a zero-tolerance policy. The only type of checks allowed are stick checks, which involve using the stick in a sweeping motion to knock the ring away from the ring carrier or by raising the ring carrier's stick upwards by lifting or knocking it, followed immediately by an attempt to steal the ring. Sticks may not be raised above shoulder height and high-sticking is penalized.
In ringette, teams during play are divided into two units of six players: one centre, two forwards, two defenders, and one goaltender. The players take up specific formations and roles when defending or attacking. The goal of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team by shooting the ring into the opposing team's net. Goal nets used in ringette are identical to those used in ice hockey (6 by 4 feet [1.8 m × 1.2 m]). Ringette goaltenders are the only players allowed to play the ring with their hands but must do so from within their goal crease which only they can enter. After stopping a shot on net or receiving a pass, they have five seconds to throw, push or pass the ring to another player.
In comparison to ice hockey, the rules of ringette differ in several ways. There is no offsides, or icing. Ringette games are typically played on ice surfaces used for playing ice hockey but use different lines and markings; a ringette rink is augmented with lines and markings specific to ringette instead. Ice hockey rink markings such as hash marks and face-off dots are not used in ringette. In addition, a ringette rink uses extra lines and markings such as the "free play line" a.k.a. as the "extended zone line".
When attempting to gain possession of the ring, ringette's blue line rule prohibits players from carrying the ring over either of the blue lines bisecting the ice surface and players are thus required pass the ring over each individual line to another teammate in order to advance the play. In addition, only the goaltender may enter the goaltenders crease, and before each play a free pass is taken in which no one but the player taking the free pass is allowed inside the free pass circle. Once the free pass has been taken and the ring is completely outside of the circle, the other players are allowed to enter the area again.
Though initially played using two separate periods of play per game, games today typically consist of four quarters of 15 minutes each, with the exception of younger divisions which may use two periods of 22 minutes instead. A 30-second shot clock is used to prevent players from running out the clock, improve the flow of the game and increase the speed of play. The rule was first introduced in Canada in 2002 and went into effect for age groups which used to be known as the junior, belle, and open divisions. The 30-second shot clock is now used almost universally in all age groups as well as internationally (including the World Ringette Championships) with the exception of very young players and some of the lower divisions.
The ringette rink uses five free pass circles, each of which has a bisecting line. The start of every quarter begins with a free pass from the free pass circle at centre ice. During the rest of a game, free pass circles are used for restarting the game after a goal or a violation. At such times, players may not enter the circle unless they are the player making the free pass. If a player is making a free pass, they have five seconds after the whistle blows to either pass the ring to another teammate or take a shot at the opposing team's goal, but they must not exit the circle or cross the bisecting line before doing so.
The sport uses a "free play zone" (alternatively known as the "extended zone") which exists in each of the rink's two end zones and consists of the area between the end boards and the free play line (or "ringette line"). The ringette line is a thin red line bisecting the rink which is placed atop of the free pass circles in the end zone. Only three players from each team are allowed in these zones at one time or a "four in" call is made and play is stopped with a free pass awarded to the non-offending team. The remaining players must remain behind the ringette line. There is one exception which can be made in higher divisions whereby the defending team is serving a penalty: in such a case, the opposing team may pull its goaltender and send in another attacker, meaning four of its players are allowed into the zone without penalty.
Main article: Ice rink § Ringette
Ringette games are played on ice rinks either indoors or outdoors. Playing area, size, lines and markings for the standard Canadian ringette rink are similar to the average 85-by-200-foot (26 m × 61 m) Canadian ice hockey rink with certain modifications. An exception exists for European ice hockey rinks which may be slightly larger in size. A ringette rink utilizes most (but not all) of the standard ice hockey markings used by Hockey Canada but with additional markings: five free pass circles (each with a bisecting line) with two in each end zone and one at centre ice, four free-pass dots in each of the end zones, two free-pass dots in the centre zone, and a line demarcating a larger goal crease area which is shaped in a semi-circular fashion. Two additional free-play lines (also known as a "ringette line" or "extended zone line") are also required, with one in each end zone.
Ringette uses a blue, rubber, pneumatic ring designed for play on an ice surface. The official ring has a diameter of 16.5 cm.
Ringette rings have three designs: the official ice ring designed for use on ice, a practice ring, also designed for use on ice known as a "Turbo ring", and the gym ring, designed for use on dry floors for gym ringette.
The ring used for the ice game is a blue, rubber pneumatic torus. The gym ringette ring is an orange torus made of a sponge-like material and unlike the ice ring, is not hollow. The ringette "practice ring" (a.k.a. "turbo ring") is not a torus, but a small open disk (a toroid) used on ice to help ringette players develop and hone pass receiving skills and is typically either orange or blue. First designed in Canada in 1997, the Turbo ring is safe to use when shooting on goalies, doesn't break, and slides like an official ice ring but is half the size. Practice rings don't collect snow and come in different high-optic colours for easy visibility.
The equipment players wear is similar to that used by ice hockey players but involves a few differences. Required equipment for ringette players includes the following:
Ringette sticks[better source needed] are straight and have tapered ends with metal or plastic drag-tips designed with grooves to increase the lift and velocity of the wrist shot. Sticks must conform to specific rules including those which determine the acceptable measurements for the taper and face of the stick. The stick and the tip must also meet the minimum width measurements. Sticks are reinforced to withstand the bodyweight of a player - a ring carrier leans heavily on the stick to prevent opposing players from removing the ring.
Ringette facemasks are designed to meet ringette's specific safety requirements and are available in different styles for both goaltenders and other players. In the case of the traditional wire cage ringette masks in North America, the bars are shaped like triangles rather than squares and are designed so that the end of a ringette stick cannot enter the mask. Similar North American designs exist but must meet certain safety specifications required by the CSA Group (formerly the Canadian Standards Association or "CSA"). European ringette cage and bar styles may differ. Some players wear clear plastic shields but half-visors are illegal. Some masks are a combination of a shield and tightly spaced wires or similar. At all levels, ringette players must wear a pelvic protector, essentially the female equivalent of a jockstrap, known colloquially as a "jill" or "jillstrap". Goaltenders may use an ice hockey trapper, an ice hockey blocker, and/or a ringette goalie trapper a.k.a. "Keely glove", named after a Keely Brown, a former goalie of Canada's national ringette team who helped create the sport's first design.
There are two off-ice variants of ringette: in-line ringette and gym ringette, played wearing shoes. Gym ringette was developed in Canada as a floor variant of ringette in the 1990s, largely by Ringette Canada. It is meant to be played as a stand-alone activity or as a form of dry-land training to help players develop skills which are transferable to the ice sport. In-line ringette is played as an informal alternative, but a consistent set formal rules have not been codified and sizeable organizing bodies do not exist. Ringette does not have any parasport variant.
Ringette was created in Northern Ontario, Canada, as a civic recreation project for girls by its two founders, Sam Jacks from North Bay, Ontario] and Red McCarthy from Espanola, Ontario. Jacks is credited with creating the idea for the sport in 1963, following his earlier development of a variant of floor hockey in 1936, which used bladeless sticks and a flat felt disk with a hole in the centre. McCarthy was responsible for developing the sport's first rules. Ringette was created in the hopes of increasing and maintaining female participation in winter sport under the existing authority of the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO) and the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) due to a lack of success in generating interest among the young female population in the winter team sports of girl's broomball and girl's ice hockey.
For as long as Municipal Recreation has existed there has been, with some justification, a concern that our sports tended to be male orientated.
Over the years attempts have been made to discover or create a new winter court or rink game for girls. Broomball was such a game, and for some time girls' Ice Hockey had a certain success. Neither of these games seemed to have the acceptance of the female population as indicated by lack of growth.
Ringette is a new attempt to provide a winter team sport, on skates, for girls.— Ringette Rules (A Game on Skates for Girls), SDMRO (1965–1966)
The idea for the new game was first introduced at a general meeting between the members of NORDA in January 1963 in Sudbury, Ontario. The first ringette game took place that fall in Espanola, Ontario under the direction of McCarthy between a group of girls who had played ice hockey at Espanola High School. Other Northern Ontario communities soon began experimenting with the game in the winter of 1964–65. On May 31, 1965, a set of rules developed by McCarthy were presented by NORDA to the SDMRO which then published them for use in the 1965–66 season.
The SDMRO then developed and organized the sport on a larger scale, and in 1969 the Ontario Ringette Association (now Ringette Ontario) was formed as a provincial governing body. The sport was introduced to Manitoba in 1967 and the province's first team, the Wildwood, was created two years later in Fort Garry, Winnipeg.
In Canada, ringette spread to Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. To better organize the sport nationally, Ringette Canada was founded in 1974. The following year, the sport received national television exposure in an intermission feature during Hockey Night in Canada. The copyright to the official ringette rules, which had been transferred from the SDMRO to the Ontario Ringette Association in 1973, was acquired by Ringette Canada in 1983.
After Jacks died in May 1975, his wife Agnes Jacks promoted the game and acted as an ambassador for the sport until her own death in April 2005. She received the Order of Canada for this work in 2002.
In 1979, former professional ice hockey player and coach Juhani Wahlsten introduced ringette to Finland at girls ice hockey practices in the Turku area. The first recorded game in Finland took place on January 23, 1979, and the first tournament took place in early 1980. The game quickly gained popularity, aided by Canadian coaches who helped establish programs. In 1983, a national association was established, which organized tournaments of more than a hundred matches by the mid-1980s.
Ringette spread to Sweden in the early 1980s. The league Ringette Dam-SM was formed in 1994, along with the Sweden Ringette Association was also established in 1994.
Ringette was introduced to the Midwestern United States in the mid-1970s and had gained popularity by the 1980s with most activity centred in Minnesota. However, participation fell dramatically in the mid-1990s when ice hockey was endorsed over ringette as an official high school sport for girls.[better source needed]
In 1986, the World Ringette Council was founded in Finland to promote and develop the sport internationally and to establish international competitions. The World Ringette Championships were first held in 1990. The following year, the World Ringette Council changed its name to the International Ringette Federation (IRF), possibly to avoid confusion due to the fact that it had the same acronym as the world event.[better source needed]
Main article: International Ringette Federation
The IRF is the highest governing body for the sport of ringette. There are four member countries: Canada, Finland, the USA, and Sweden. Historically, Canada and Finland have been the most active ambassadors in the international federation and regularly send teams to demonstrate how ringette is played in countries including Japan, Australia, Iceland, and New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, and South Korea.
Ringette is not a part of the Winter Olympic programme. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) asked Canada to stage a heritage games event for the sports of ringette, broomball, and lacrosse for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the three sports were unable to meet objectives and the event failed to materialize. Because ringette has not obtained Olympic status, the sport does not receive federal financing in Canada.
Main article: World Ringette Championships
The World Ringette Championship is the premier international ringette competition between ringette-playing nations, organized by the IRF. Initially held in alternate years, the tournament has been held every two to three years since the 2004 edition. The winning national senior team is awarded the Sam Jacks Trophy. The winning national junior team is awarded the Juuso Wahlsten Trophy. The President's Trophy is awarded to the winner of the President's Pool.
Main article: Ringette World Club Championship
Initially organized by the International Ringette Federation as a separate tournament from the World Ringette Championships, the Ringette World Club Championship was a competition held in 2008 and 2011, which featured the best teams from the Canadian National Ringette League, the national Finnish ringette league, Ringeten SM-sarja(now SM Ringette), and Sweden's Ringette Dam-SM. The championship was discontinued after 2011 due to the fact that competing teams faced financial costs which made the tournament untenable.
Traditionally held in Prague, the Czech Ringette Challenge Cup is the only ringette tournament of its kind in Central Europe and is organized by the Czech Ringette Association. Along with the Finland Lions Cup, it is one of Europe's premier ringette tournaments played every summer. The 16th annual Czech Ringette Challenge Cup took place in 2019.
The Finland Lions Cup is a ringette tournament which takes place annually in Finland. Along with the Czech Ringette Challenge Cup, it is one of Europe's premier ringette tournaments played every April, July, and December. The tournament typically features ringette teams from Finland, Sweden, and Canada. Competing divisions include under-14 (U14), under-16 (U16), and under-19/open.
Further information: Ringette in Canada and Canada national ringette team
Ringette is played in all ten Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territories. An average of 30,000 players register to play the sport annually. Ringette Canada is the country's national organizing body and promotes the sport. It established the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame in 1988.
Canada selects two national ringette teams for international competition: Team Canada Junior and Team Canada Senior. Both teams compete in the World Ringette Championships. At the university and college level, ringette players have the opportunity to play their sport in several provinces. The National Ringette League (NRL) is Canada's semi-professional ringette league for elite ringette players aged 18 and over.
Canada's elite ringette players compete in the annual Canadian Ringette Championships. There are championships for under-16 years, under-19 years, and the National Ringette League (the Open division prior to 2008).
Ringette became a part of the Canada Winter Games program in 1991. The sport is also part of the provincial, winter-based, multi-sport competitions in some provinces. Several cities and regions also have annual ringette competitions.
Cross-sport participation is common among Canada's ringette athletes, with some national-level ringette players having also played bandy for the Canadian women's national bandy team.
Further information: Ringette Finland and Finland national ringette team
There are more than 10,000 ringette players registered to play in Finland. Players participate in 31 ringette clubs, with important clubs in Naantali, Turku, and Uusikaupunki. The national governing body for the sport, Ringette Finland, was created in 1983, four years after Juhani Wahlsten, also known as "Juuso" Wahlsten, introduced ringette in Finland; he is considered the "Father of Ringette" in the country. Former President of Ringette Canada, Barry Mattern, helped introduce ringette to Finland in 1979 when he brought a team over from Winnipeg, Manitoba's, North End.
The Finland national ringette team competes on a regular basis at the World Ringette Championships is home to both Team Finland Senior and Team Finland Junior.
Finland has a semi-professional ringette league called "SM Ringette", formerly known as Ringeten SM-sarja. In english it is known as the Finnish National Ringette League. The league has been in operation since the 1987–88 winter season. The Agnes Jacks Trophy, named after the wife of Sam Jacks, is awarded to the league's Most Valuable Player at the end of the each season and was first awarded in 1992. Naisten Ykkössarja (Women's Premier League) is the second-highest series level of Finnish Ringette, which operates under Ringette Finland (Suomen Ringetteliitto ), formerly known as the Finnish Ringette Association). The Women's Premier League was formerly known as Ringete ykkössarja. The first division has been played since the 2008 season. During the 2021–22 season, six teams played in the Women's First Division.
Notable among Finnish ringette coaches is Antero Simo Tapani Kivelä, a retired Finnish ice hockey goaltender who played for Finland's national ice hockey team making 58 appearances overall, as well as appearing at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Kivelä coached several ringette teams in Finland after he finished his playing career in ice hockey, which included being the head coach for ten seasons of ringette club, Luvian Kiekko -82(a.k.a. LuKi-82), in Finland's semi-professional ringette league, SM Ringette (formerly SM-sarja). Also notable is Timo Himberg who coached the Finland national ringette team for many years. Both Team Finland Senior and Team Finland Junior compete in the World Ringette Championships.
Further information: Sweden Ringette Association and Sweden national ringette team
Ringette was introduced to Sweden in the 1980s.[failed verification] The first ringette club was Ulriksdals, in Solna, Stockholm, with most Swedish ringette associations located in the surrounding Mälardalen region. There are programs of twin towns between the Sweden Ringette Association and Canadian associations for the development of the sport within the Swedish population. In Sweden more than 6,000 girls are registered to play ringette each year.[failed verification]
Sweden's elite league (Ringetteförbundet) was established in 1994 and the Sweden Ringette Association was formed the same year. Several junior teams and numerous amateur teams are connected with these 7 semi-pro clubs. The league groups together seven semi-professional women's clubs: Kista Hockey, IFK Salem, IK Huge, Järna SK, Segeltorps IF, Sollentuna HC, and Ulriksdals SK.
The Swedish Ringette Association is now an associate member of the Swedish Sports Confederation. The Sweden national ringette team competes regularly at the World Ringette Championships in the Senior Pool. Sweden has occasionally formed a junior national ringette team, but the senior team has made the most international appearances.
Further information: United States national ringette team
The two national sporting organizations for ringette in the United States are USA Ringette and Team USA Ringette. The sport was introduced in the Midwestern US in various places during the mid-1970s and was most popular in Alpena and Flint, Michigan, Minnesota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Viroqua and Onalaska, Wisconsin.
The United States national ringette team competes regularly at the WRC, beginning in 1990 with the first WRC. Notable in the success of Team USA's development is coach Phyllis Sadoway who was the team's head coach at the WRC from 2004 to 2013, and was inducted as a coach into the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Czech Republic is host to an annual international ringette tournament in Europe, the Czech Ringette Challenge Cup and the Czech Republic national ringette team competes in the World Ringette Championships. The Czech Republic made its first international appearance at the 2016 World Ringette Championships. It was also host of the first ever World Junior Ringette Championships (Under-19) in Prague in 2009. The national governing body for ringette in the country is the Czech Ringette Association.
In 1982 ringette was introduced in Japan by former Ringette Canada President, Barry Mattern.
In 1986 ringette was introduced to Australia and New Zealand via the "Maples Ringette tour".
In 1984, a sports delegation helped introduce ringette to the U.S.S.R.. In 1985 ringette was again introduced via an initiative called 'Ringette in Russia' by the St. James Ringette Association of Winnipeg, Manitoba. However, within two years it became evident that the sport had failed to take hold in the Soviet Union.
The international development of the sport has continued with the formation of associations in Estonia, Slovakia, and France. Furthermore, Ringette Canada has been instrumental in spreading the game to the Netherlands, Switzerland, and West Germany. The sport has also been introduced to the United Arab Emirates.
Ringette has had an unintentional influence on the sport of ice hockey, including a minor effect on men's professional ice hockey and a larger impact on girl's and women's ice hockey.
The "ringette line" began to have a potential impact on men's professional ice hockey in 2012 in regards to the American Hockey League with several professionals including Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke considering its possible application in ice hockey to correct areas of concern about the game.
Ringette concepts and rings have been used in professional ice hockey practices from the late 1970s, when the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Roger Neilson sought to add variation to practices. After observing this, the coach of the Czechoslovakia men's national ice hockey team, Karel Gut, took notes on the game and made modifications in order to apply it to a training system used in Czechoslovakia's university ice hockey teams.
Prior to the 1990s in Canada, the development of women's ice hockey had failed and growth stagnated. In Ontario where ringette was invented, there were only 101 female ice hockey teams existing in the province by 1976. By 1983, there were over 14,500 ringette players in Canada compared to only 5,379 female ice hockey players. By 1990–91 there were still only 8,146. Female ice hockey only began to experience significant growth after it banned body checking, which was mostly accomplished in Canada by 1986. Following this, the expansion of female ice hockey in Canada was largely accomplished by aggressive recruiting from the ringette system.
Ringette remains one of the few organized sports worldwide where all of its elite athletes are female rather than male. Many women's sports are variants of male-dominated sports and are meant to serve as the female equivalent, rather than being sports developed for females. Canadian media and parts of the ringette community increasingly avoid calling ringette a girls' sport in spite of its heritage. Although mixed teams have appeared, some have claimed that there is a social stigma against males playing ringette. In 2021, CBC Radio reported on the controversy of a teenage ringette goaltender who identified as male and who had competed in ringette in Quebec.
Canada Post issued four stamps in a series of sports with Canadian origins: ringette, basketball, five-pin bowling and lacrosse. The commemorative stamps were issued on August 10, 2009, and featured well-worn equipment used in each sport with a background line drawing of the appropriate playing surface.
The sport was featured on an episode of the children's show Caillou.
See also: Finland national ringette team
See also: Canada national ringette team
Notable in ringette is Sam Jacks who created the sport, in addition with the help of Red McCarthy. Juhani Wahlsten is notable for introducing ringette to Finland in the late 1970s.
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