The Royal League of Bunnies

The Bunnies game is by far the most regal and civilized of drinking games enjoyed in the Kingdom of Britain and her colonies.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Bunnies Rules

In order to play this entertaining and skilful game of logic and speed you will need the following:

  • A pint of ale per player.
  • A minimum of four players. No more than 14 players is recommended.
  • A table or other space around which there is room for you all to sit, facing each other in a circle.

Mr Chairman (see below for Mr Chairman selection process) shall bring the 'Circle' of seated players to attention by having them stand and repeat. “I, do solemnly swear, to uphold the honor, decorum and glory of the Royal League of Bunnies, forever and ever, etcetera etcetera and so forth, God Save the Queen.” Following which all players shall clink glasses.

To start a round of Bunnies, A game of SIMON SAYS ensues, during which at anytime Mr Chairman shall place his thumbs on his temples and wave his hands like bunny rabbit ears whilst declaring “Bunny is ‘go!’”

Mr Chairman now 'has the bunny'.

The rest of the players shall drop their hands to their sides unless they are immediately neighbouring the bunny.

Bunny Friends

If the chairman fails to declare “Bunny is ‘go’!” this is merely a dummy start and anyone dropping their hands to their sides shall suffer penalty.

Cabinet Minister

A Cabinet Minister is a player with a designated Folio. Mr Chairman may elect another player to start a round.

Object of the Game
The object of the game is to fool other players into penalties with the speed, complexity and cunning of the various different bunny passes.

When the bunny is passed, the player having the bunny transfers possession of the bunny to another player, who must recognize that he is the recipient of the bunny and then take possession of the bunny by putting his thumbs to his temples and waggling his 'bunny ears'.

Of course, the players on either side of the new possessor of the bunny must 'mirror' the bunny. The player who has 'passed the bunny' must fully remove his thumb(s) from his temples for the pass to be legitimate. The players who were mirroring the bunny of a player who has passed it must also remove their thumb from their temple and cease to mirror. Failure to adhere to these rules or any other will result in the player getting 'fined' at the end of the round. These fines are measured in ‘fingers’ worth of ale. Two finger is a standard penalty.

There are very many ways to pass the bunny to another player. The most simple and common of which are listed below. There are many local variations in these 'passes' which also evolve over time and by region.

Each different pass can only be used once it has been 'introduced' and 'demonstrated' by Mr Chairman, before the start of a round of bunnies. To demonstrate a new pass, Mr Chairman will call the hover, then take a virtual bunny and demonstrate the pass with the assistance of appropriate mirroring. Passes must be performed in the exact manner in which they are demonstrated, without any hint of ambiguity or confusion.

Passes introduced before previous rounds of bunnies are still valid and do not need to be repeatedly introduced and demonstrated before each round. People who are not present during the introduction of a new pass (perhaps having issued a 'trunk call' in order to buy another beverage, see below) must not be informed that the new pass is in effect (a good way to stitch up freshers). The passes were named according to their university or person of origin.

Dummy Passes
There exist several dummy passes which can be used to trick another player into picking up the bunny when it had not in fact been 'passed' or 'thrown' to that player, or has actually been passed to a different player, other than the one the dummy is directed at. Picking up the bunny from a dummy pass is, of course, very stupid indeed and can easily be avoided by paying attention. Consequently, freshers often fall foul of dummies. Dummies are never intentionally demonstrated before a round of bunnies by Mr Chairman, but can be explained by him to players who have fallen foul of them, between rounds.

The Nod dummy - The player with the bunny feigns a simple pass by pointing with his index fingers nodding in the direction of the player to be dummied. His thumbs never leave his temples, so the bunny is never released.

The Stare dummy
- The passing player stares at another player other than the one he is passing to. He uses his good looks and engaging personality to fool the player being stared at that he is the one being passed to.

The Loughbrough dummy
- The hand that drops the bunny is used to point at the player to be dummied. Of course the real Leeds pass is to the player next to the passing player. For example a player issues a Leeds to his left, by dropping his right hand, but points with that right hand across the circle at another player.

The Robbie Watson dummy
- The ear is cupped by the closed hand instead of having the thumb of the passing hand on the temple, and the pass in fact goes to the player that is being pointed at with the other hand. A kind of double bluff (advanced play only, the only dummy that has to be 'introduced').


New bunnies passes (and other accessory rules) should be introduced into the game, over progressive rounds, to increase the difficulty level, in the following order. As the list goes on, the order becomes less critical. Passing the bunny may also be referred to as 'Throwing the Bunny'.

Simple Pass - Both thumbs are released from the temple and the arms are stretched out horizontally with the hands together, and the index fingers pointing clearly at another player, who must then pick up the bunny.
One man pass, or Leeds pass - The player with the bunny removes one of his thumbs from his temple, and the bunny is passed to the player next to him on the same side that the remaining bunny ear of the passing player is still waggling. So if the left hand is dropped, the bunny is passed one man to the right and vice versa.

Two man pass, or Bradford pass - The player with the bunny removes both thumbs form his temples, and then places one thumb on his nose with the palm of the hand facing in one direction or the other around the circle. The direction that the palm faces in determines the direction the pass goes in. So if the left hand is being used, the bunny is passed to the player next but one on the right of the passing player. So the bunny is passed two players to the right. The reverse is also true for the right hand. The Loughbrough dummy (see above) may also be used during a Bradford pass.

Three man pass, or Exeter pass - The player with the bunny removes one thumb from one of his temples and puts it on his nose, with the palm facing in the direction of the pass. The bunny is thus passed to the player three players along the circle in the direction of the palm.

Four man pass, or MUTECH pass - The player passing the bunny removes both thumbs from his temples and lays one hand, palm down, on the top of his head, and puts the thumb of the other hand on his nose with the palm of that hand facing in the direction of the pass. The bunny is thus passed four players around the circle in the direction of the palm. A common mistakeis putting one hand on the top of his head and leaving the other one with the thumb on the temple. This is a very stupid mistake indeed and must be heavily fined. Apart from anything else it looks silly. Bunnies can be played with a minimum of four players (or three real and one virtual player, see 'Pete Best'). Thus, the four man pass can by used to pass to oneself in this case, with hilarious but sometimes boring results.

Brammall Bounce - The passing player stands up and essentially 'throws' a simple pass up to the ceiling. The pass bounces off the ceiling, and is picked up by the first player to stand up and receive it with outstretched arms. The bunny is then taken up by the happy recipient and play continues.

Olympic bunnies - Once the game gets going and the players are becoming complacent or casual with their passes, Mr Chairman will introduce 'Olympic Bunnies', where the bunny can not be retained by a player for more than three seconds (at the discretion of the committee). Players stalling their passes, not giving quick decisive passes, languishing in possession of the bunny intentionally or otherwise just not getting on with it will be fined. This rule is vital to the essence of bunnies, affording the game play a requirement for quick thinking, high levels of concentration, and deft elegant passing. Experienced players will often start the game with Olympic speed already in force in an effort to further hone their bunnies skills and make the game harder.
A competent game of bunnies should be played at such a pace that the casual observer is rendered mesmerised by the velocity of the action.

UMIST refusal - Any pass may be refused by the intended recipient of that pass with a UMIST refusal. This consists of the intended recipient loudly slapping their opposite shoulders with their hands in a crossed over formation. Then the bunny is taken again by the player who was trying to pass it. There may only be two UMIST refusals in each round. Any player committing the most heinous and despicable bunnies crime of the third UMIST refusal will be subjected to a fine as follows. While standing on a chair or table, the guilty player must consume eight digits (see 'Mr Weights and Measures' below) A digit is the amount of liquid it takes to bring the water-level up to the position of the lowest finger on the glass while rotating on the spot, with contributions to fill his vessel from other players if needed. This most disgusting of bunnies offences must never go unpunished. Repeat offenders are likely to be ejected for the game and have to live in shame for the rest of their pitiful university careers, if not their remaining, hopefully short, life. A variation of this rule is 'The Mirror', with the same rules other than both hands are put together with palms facing out at the direction of the pass to reflect it back at the player making the pass.

Reverse Bunnies - For the experienced bunnies player only, these subtle complexities of the game are difficult to master, often requiring years of practice and careful interpretation of the rules. The bunny can be reversed only during the course of a pass. A player cannot reverse it by himself for himself. The bunny can only be reversed by the player making the pass, and never by the player receiving the pass. In order to reverse the bunny, a 'simple pass' is modified such that the arms cross over themselves, but still point at the intended recipient. This is a 'Reversed Throw'. Once this pass is made, the player receiving the reversed throw takes the bunny in a reversed manner - the left thumb is paced on the right temple and vice versa, with the palms facing backwards. Similarly the reverse bunny is reverse mirrored. For instance a player on the right of a reversed bunny will place his left thumb on his right temple, instead of the right thumb.

Once the bunny is reversed, it may be made 'normal' again by throwing another 'reversed pass' with the arms crossed. Thus, a reversed bunny thrown with a 'reversed throw' (with crossed arms) is picked up as a 'normal' bunny. However, if a reversed bunny is thrown with the arms straight and not crossed as a straight throw, the bunny remains reversed and must be picked up as a reversed bunny. All the other passes may be carried out with reverse modification as follows... For a reverse two man pass, the pass goes in the direction of the back of the hand not the palm. The same is true for the reverse three and four man passes. For the reverse three man pass the hand not on the nose is left in a reverse mirror like configuration. In the reverse four-man pass, the hand not on the nose is placed palm upwards on top of the head. A reverse cosmic pass is thrown in the direction of the back of the hand. A reversed bunny which is passed with one of the 'reversed' forms of a pass remains reversed, until the bunny is normalised with a 'reversed throw'.

In an interesting and potentially confusing set of variations on the Brammall bounce, the bunny may be reversed or normalised by crossing the arms while pointing at the upper playing surface. Also the reverse of the Brammall bounce may be used, the so called 'Llammarb bounce'. To perform this move the bunny is thrown with either straight or crossed arms (depending in whether the bunny is to become reversed, become normal, or remain reversed or normal) at the floor under the table. As in the Brammall bounce, the first player to pick up the bunny in the correct manner by pointing with both hands at the floor 'takes' the bunny.

Pete Best - Not only was Pete Best the original drummer of popular Mersey beat combo, The Beatles, but also an exceptionally gifted sportsman and most 'Olympic' of bunnies players. His memory lives on as a virtual player who may be introduced at any time in the game. He is given a drink, a place in the circle (commonly between Mr Chairman and an unwitting fresher) in which nobody must sit, on threat of a heavy fine. Pete commands the utmost respect of all players. Any form of abuse, verbal or physical, directed at Pete will be fined in the most severe manner. Pete has a few peculiarities that must be accommodated for when he is present in the circle. Pete is always the best and fastest bunnies player in the circle. He always passes the bunny back to whoever passes it to him, but not always in the same manner in which it was passed to him. For instance, a player may pass to Pete with a simple pass, but almost instantaneously receive the bunny again from a Brammall Bounce pass from Pete, requiring the player to stand up to receive it correctly. Should any player issue a Brammal Bounce or any other pass that is picked up by the first player to get it, Pete, of course being the fastest, always gets it before anyone else, then passes it back again to the original passer. Pete is always up for going on away trips, especially in university competitions, and is a regular on many a team sheets. This Researcher included him in all of his team sheets as Captain of the UEA 1st XI field hockey team, which allowed the odd 'ringer' to join us on the pitch as required.

Empty Vessel - 'EV' is an abbreviation standing for Empty Vessel. If a vessel is freed of its contents as a result of general beverage consumption or as a result of a 'fine', then it must not be simply returned to the playing surface. Instead, the rim of the vessel must be tapped gently on the playing surface, and then the base of the vessel touched down twice before the player releases his grip. The fine for failing to EV is a statutory eight digits to be performed upstanding.

Selection of Mr Chairman

Upon organising the game, there will be a long-winded voting procedure masquerading as a democratic process to elect the position of Mr Chairman. This may take the form of several nominations followed by at least five minutes or arguing, after which the identity of Mr Chairman is resolved fairly (or unfairly) with a (fixed/loaded) three-round game of paper-scissors-stone. The person who has been designated at the start of the season to take up this role (usually the club chairman or president) will almost invariably win the contest regardless of the actual outcome, despite all heckling and other protests of infringement of democratic rights and election gerrymandering. The winner is now known only as Mr Chairman.

Mr Chairman is the sole arbiter and judge of the game whose decision is final and technically is always right (see later for exceptions). His fines may be as fair or unfair as he sees fit, and he can fine anything he likes, with as harsh and unfair a fine as he likes.

Formation and Integrity of the Circle

After the above voting procedure, all players will sit down in the 'circle'. From this point they may no longer:

  • Talk to other persons outside the circle (including 'real friends', girl/boyfriends etc). This is part of what is called 'Speaking out of turn', described below.
  • Stand up, unless:
    - The game is in recess (see below)
    - They have been instructed to do so by Mr Chairman or another committee member.
    - Are wishing to answer the call of nature/visit the bar to refill their pint (see trunk calls below).
    - Are performing a bunnies 'pass' which requires standing.
  • Point with the index finger, since this is considered to be extremely rude. Instead, the elbow may be used to indicate direction.

Mr Chairman may call the game into recess, in which the circle is temporarily disbanded while more beverages are purchased en masse or some other situation has to be dealt with, such as a boat race, the rugby club being thrown out of the bar, or a fresher being sick, etc.

The Use of Fines

Mr Chairman and other members of the committee will punish players who break any of the rules of the game, behave in any manner which the committee dislikes, are a fresher, or in fact for no better reason other than they want to. These punishments are in the form of fines, consisting most often of alcoholic liquid consumption.

Fines are given in varying degrees of severity depending on how 'heinous' the 'crime' was, at the discretion of the committee. Fines are issued in measures of 'digits' (see 'Mr Weights and Measures' below). Fines are most often issued at the end of a 'Round' of bunnies, but may be issued at any other time for technical infringements or matters of discipline. All fines must be 'taken' in full as soon as physically possible after they have been issued. Failure to 'take' a fine will result in general derision, public humiliation and ejection form the game.

The Committee and Their Roles in Fining Players

To assist Mr Chairman in his fining duties and to keep certain other things in order, several committee members are appointed at the start of the game by Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman is a committee member and is governed by the same general rule as the rest of his committee. This general rule is: Double fines for committee members, so a fine that might usually be a two digit offence (such as failing to mirror the bunny) must be taken as four by a committee member. This rule keeps the standard of the committee high, as any player on the committee who is a poor bunnies player will quickly amass so many digits of beer in fines that he will become highly intoxicated and likely to vomit or pass out.

Referred to as 'Chief Sneak', this player carefully watches the game play and points out infringements of the rules that Mr Chairman might have missed. He will be formally requested for 'Any other fines' by Mr Chairman at the end of each 'Round' of bunnies. Several Assistant chief sneaks may also be appointed if the circle is large. Most importantly, Chief Sneak is responsible for ending each round of bunnies when play degenerates in to confusion or a player commits a heinous breach of the rules. Upon either of these happening he issues a call of 'Hold it right there!' while standing up and making a horizontal sweeping movement with his right arm. At this point, the round is ended and he may begin to assist Mr Chairman in issuing fines as appropriate.

Referred to as 'Mr Weights and Measures', this player determines the size of each fine as administered by Mr Chairman, who will often, but not always, suggest a size for the fine. Fines are delivered and paid in a number of 'digits'-worth of a beverage in a pint vessel. For instance, one participant (a fresher, say) makes the stupid mistake of falling for Mr Chairman's Loughbrough dummy. At the end of the round of bunnies, Mr Chairman points out the fine before he moves on to more important business. Mr Weights and Measures then instructs the fresher to consume two digits of beer. This entails the fresher picking up his vessel (with the appropriate hand(s), see 'chirality' below), and using the width of two of his digits as a measure from the surface level of the beverage. He then consumes from the vessel until the surface level of the beverage is at the bottom of his two digits. As a guide, a whole pint measures eight digits.

Referred to as 'Mr Thumb', this player, initially secretly appointed by Mr Chairman sometime into the game, can at any time place his right thumb on the upper playing surface. At this point the round of bunnies finishes, and all players continue to play at their own risk. The last player to realise the round had been interrupted by Mr Thumb by following his suit by also placing his right thumb on the playing surface, is the loser. He is fined four fingers. However, he may gamble double or quits on the call of a tossed coin. A new round of bunnies is started and the player who was last to get his right thumb on the table is now Mr Thumb, and may interrupt the game at any time, by placing his right thumb on the playing surface.

It is, of course, illegal to inform a player verbally that Mr Thumb has interrupted the round. However, careful use of the elbow pointing technique and other non-verbal methods may be employed to inform one's friends of the interruption, such that an unwitting fresher gets the wrap. Use of the left thumb is a dummy, and any player following the dummy will be fined accordingly.

Similar in concept to Mr Thumb, 'Mr Nose' interrupts the game by placing his nose on the playing surface. The same rules apply as for Mr Thumb. Mr Nose may also place his nose on any available surface, such as another player's back, a nearby wall or door, a light fitting, the saloon etc. These variations are of doubtless humour, but should be exercised with extreme caution as they tend to be disruptive to the game and the continued presence of the players in that particular saloon, due to attracting unwanted attention from the saloon staff/bouncers.

Issues Regarding Names

Players cannot retain their name. Players may assume a pseudonym which must be prefixed with 'Minister of' and can be anything of the player's choice. Mr Chairman may, however, overrule anyone's name due to them being a member of 'the committee' see below, or just because he doesn't like it. Mr Chairman will replace the name with one he deems more fitting. A female Chairperson is still called Mr Chairman.

Once the names of all the players have been decided and set by a round of names, where each player in turn gives his name such that all players can hear it, they may only be referred to by that name for the rest of the game. Failure to use the correct name may be fined at the discretion of Mr Chairman.

At any point, Mr Chairman may instruct of the committee members to repeat the round of names, by saying out load the name of each player in the circle. Every name that the committee member fails to get right earns him a digit of beer as a fine. Names must be correctly correlated with the players to whom they belong.

Language and Communication

Swearing or any other kind of crude language or verbal abuse is not permitted. Bunnies is a sociable, orderly, friendly and logical game. No room exists in the game for 'Speaking out of turn' in which a player vocalises to any other player or person outside the circle, unless he is a committee member or has been invited to speak by Mr Chairman.

A player may attempt to attract the attention of Mr Chairman only by raising his elbow (not his hand, since that would be considered very rude and result in a fine for pointing). Failure to adhere to this law of silence will quickly result in the disintegration of the game into very noisy, lawless anarchy. This state of affairs is generally considered to be 'Very Poor', and it is Mr Chairman's responsibility to keep noisy and easily distracted players minds focussed on the game by maintaining a continuum of flow in the game and repeatedly fining offenders.

Any kind of argument about fairness or dissatisfaction with allocation of fines is strictly prohibited. No pointing with index finger is allowed, as this is very rude indeed. Instead a player may bring attention to another player or himself by using the much less offensive elbow as a pointing tool.

The following list of words shows words that are considered unacceptable in a bunnies circle and the words that should be substituted for them when the situation dictates:
Incorrect word Correct word
Bar Saloon
Finger Digit
Table Playing surface
Ceiling Upper playing surface
Beer/Drink Beverage
Drink (verb) Consume/Imbibe

Particularly heavy fines may be incurred by failure to adhere to these rules.

Concluding points

These far-from-exhaustive rules should give the inexperienced or novice player the tools to be able to fully enjoy their post match festivities in their or someone else's students union/sports club bar. This has been written in the face the wrath of many a die-hard bunnies player, who would argue that the rules of the sacred game should never be written down, but learned only from hard experience and the fines associated with that. But in these days of mobile communications, the Internet, and the changing face of the student population, who seem less and less interested in the playing of such games as bunnies, and more and more interested in not behaving in a loud obnoxious manner in order to look 'cool', it's necessary to lay the rules down forever in the hope of a return of a more civilised age which may one day realise again the full potential of this most noble of games.