Baton Rouge Tigers Australian Rules Football Club

2018 Central Regional Tournament

Good morning, folks!

It’s time for another exciting round of footy as the Baton Rouge Tigers paid up with the Des Moines Roosters once again in this year’s Central Regional Tournament in Music City.

The Tigers are 2-4 on the season thus far after splitting the Ruggles Cup with a victory over the Tulsa Buffaloes and losing to the Houston Lonestars. In the South Central Tournament earlier this summer, they also posted a victory over the a squad of Houston Lonestars while falling to the Dallas Magpies, Austin Crows, another group of Lonestars.

The Tigers hope to improve upon their performance in last year’s tournament, where they were sent home without a win. Led by veterans Josh Cartmill, Lachlan McQueen, and Ryan Moran, they are determined not to do so again this year.

The Tigers take the field against the Oklahoma Footy Club at 10:00 CST, Ohio Valley at 12:00 CST, and Atlanta at 3:00 CST. You can Follow the Action Live through the USAFL’s official Facebook page. The full schedule is listed below:

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Baton Rouge Tigers: the other tigers in town

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Members of the Baton Rouge Tigers Australian Rules Football Club pose after a full day of tournament play in the inaugural South Central Metro Tournament. Back row, from left, are Stuart Johnson, Adam Mullavey, Loren Klein, Neil Stebbing, Luke Sexton, Lachlan Mcqueen-Miscamble, Matthew Heintze, Robert Montanaro, John Zimmerman, Garrett Remson and Brett Thomas; and front row, from left, Joe McDonald, Christian Robique, Mitch Gray, Brookes Guay, Ryan Moran, Matt Smith and Cole Hilgenkamp. Club President Josh Cartmill said the team hopes to make the tournament an annual event.

If there’s one thing Australian expatriates love more than their Australian Rules Football games, it’s winning over new converts.

The Baton Rouge Tigers Australian Rules Football Club found a taker in Josh Cartmill, who was introduced to the sport through a friend in the spring of 2011, and hasn’t stopped since. Cartmill, current president of the club, led the effort to organize the Tigers’ inaugural South Central Metro Tournament on Saturday, inviting United States Australian Football-affiliated teams from Austin, Dallas and Houston for a full day of matchups.

All four clubs play as part of the Southern Region of the USAFL, an organization dedicated to expanding the sport in America. Nationwide, the league has expanded to include 40 clubs as of 2018.

Australian culture is sports-saturated, not unlike the United States, said Robert Montanaro, who was among the original members of the Tigers when the club was created in 2004.

But they don’t just observe, he said — they participate, long after they’ve left school teams and entered the workforce.

“In Australia, the sports culture is different and every little town has a football team that plays every weekend. By being part of the club is how one socializes within the community. Even the college team sports is completely different. Unlike the big tailgating events that occur in U.S. college football games, Australian rules football games typically don’t have large crowds in the stands,” said Matt Heintze, player/coach of the Tigers. “Because everyone’s on a team, themselves; they’re either at their own games or at practice.”

Whatever the love of the game is, it’s something the Baton Rouge Tigers are eager to pass on to anyone who wants to learn more about this fast-paced, multiskilled, no-pads tackle version of football.

The tackling is different, Montanaro is quick to point out — more of a bear hug takedown than the full contact hits of American football and rugby, and that makes it somewhat safer for all ages.

“It’s addictive,” Cartmill said. The ball moves quickly and must be either passed, kicked or touched to the ground every 15 meters. The pace is so fast that it becomes a good antidote to every day stressors. “You’re focused on the ball. You don’t really have time to think about it, you have to react to what’s happening right in front of you,” he said.

It’s also a great way to stay in shape and satisfy the accomplishment that comes with team sports, he said.

The sport is akin to Little League Baseball in the United States, Cartmill said, in that everyone grows up playing it in Australia. One of the objectives is to grow the sport in America, and that’s one reason that League-sanctioned games only allow a maximum of 50 percent Australian expatriates to Americans on the playing field.

While there’s certainly a learning curve, he said, that is mitigated by the free-flowing nature of the game. Players are encouraged to offer each other advice at the tops of their lungs.

Due to the nonstop nature of the game, there are no set plays, and no huddles while the game is in progress, therefore the plan is created second by second, he said. Teammates make it up as they go along by talking to each other on the field — and from the sidelines — as the game progresses.

The sport has expanded in Australia to include women’s leagues in the past few years, Heintze added, and that has caught on in the U.S., as well.

“The USAFL is following in those footsteps and encouraging women to come out to a practice or a game to try the game out. We welcome anyone to a practice,” Heintze said.

For more information, visit the Tigers’ Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BRTigers, or email batonrougetigers@gmail.com

Game Recap: Atlanta

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The Tigers took to the road over the weekend for the second time this season, traveling to Atlanta for a showdown against the rival Kookaburras. They were greeted by plenty of familiar faces, many of whom they had played alongside just a few short months ago at Nationals. One of whom even played as a Tiger last year. Nice to see you Kyler!

Expectations were tempered as the Tigers approached Candler Park. The trip to Atlanta has seldom been kind to the visitors, and last year was particularly lopsided. The Tigers were determined not to repeat those results and came out firing on all cylinders.

The Tigers played aggressive footy right out of the gate, winning the stoppages and locking the ball in their forward half for most of the first quarter.  This early intensity resulted in the Tigers leading the Kookaburras by 7 points at quarter time, 2.2.14 to 1.1.7. In the 2nd quarter, the Tigers were just a little less accurate in front of goal and Atlanta took the lead 4.2.26 to 2.4.16.  At three quarter time, Atlanta’s lead remained the same (6.4.39 to 4.5.29).

The fourth quarter proved to be a struggle for Baton Rouge, as the speed of Atlanta’s midfield and the depth of its bench began to take its toll on the traveling Tigers. On seemingly fresher legs, the Kookaburras kicked 6.0 for the final term.  Whereas, the Tigers faded down the stretch kicking only 1.1.  Final Score: Atlanta 12.4.76 to Baton Rouge 5.6.36. Tigers Best: Lachlan McQueen

Following the match, both clubs and their supporters gathered at The Bird to drink away the bumps and bruises celebrate another footy weekend gone by. The Tigers now have three weeks to lick their wounds, gather their focus, and meditate on lessons learned from this defeat before traveling to Little Rock for the Central Regional Tournament and the end of the first half of the 2017 season.

Next Up: Atlanta Kookaburras

dsc_0022.jpgAfter a longer-than-expected break, the Tigers are eager to get back into action as they travel to Atlanta this weekend to face the Kookaburras.

These two teams are intimately familiar with each other, having faced off twice in 2016 before joining forces in Sarasota for an impressive run in the National Tournament.

In each of their previous matches, the home team dominated, with Atlanta dismantling the Tigers in August to the tune of 19.24.138 to 5.8.38, and Baton Rouge returning serve a month later, demolishing the visitors 8.11.59 to 2.0.12 in their first game after the 2016 floods. The Tigers hope to buck that trend with a road win this weekend, but know that a win will not come easily against a resilient Kookaburras squad.

No matter the outcome, this promises to be a great weekend of camaraderie and competition out at Candler Park. Tip-off is at 2:00 Eastern time, so keep your eyes open for score updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Player Profile: Michael Cussen

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Name:           Michael Cussen
Hometown:  Melbourne, Australia
Height:          6’0″      Weight:   200 lbs.
Favorite AFL Team:   Essendon Bombers

A free agent acquisition last year from the Land of Oz, Michael Cussen quickly became a key pillar of a resurgent Baton Rouge Tigers team in 2016, demonstrating great leadership both on the field and off as he was instrumental in the Tigers ability to hold the Houston Lonestars to just two behinds in their first game back after the flooding that year, as well as playing a central role in the Tigers winning 2 out of 3 games in Sarasota.

Mike will be returning to his hometown in just a few short days, but certainly left an impression before doing so, and no example was more clear than when he took perhaps the most spectacular mark in Tigers’ history two weekends ago in our third Metro League game of the season.

To a great teammate, great friend, and all-around great human being, Mike, you will be sorely missed. Best of luck in all your future endeavors and I hope you always look on your time in Baton Rouge fondly.