Austin, Tx. October 8th and 9th saw over 1000 players and 2000 fans from across the country came together for the 2011 US Australian Football National playoffs and Championships.
Teams competed in 5 divisions and the Baton Rouge Tigers combined with the Houston LoneStars to play as a strong Division 4 team.
The team bus left BR Friday morning and picked up the Houston players on the way through for what was one of the most fun road trips we’ve ever had. Excitement was high and the music was loud as we rolled into Austin and down onto 6th street to kick off the weekend with a bang.
Early Saturday morning we met and rode the bus down to the field to breathe in the scent of Aussie Football. As a team we had to lend a hand and supply umpires to an early game and then met to warm up for our first match.
With good numbers we tackled a tough Denver B squad and had a close, hard first half with less than 1 goal (6 points) separating us at the break. The second half saw us lose a little focus and team co-ordination while Denver kept the pressure on and unfortunately we went down by 13 points in a hard-fought but slightly unfocused game.
After that 1st game’s wake-up call and a little while to refocus, we regrouped for our second game against a combined Chicago/Tulsa/Des Moines team and man were we on fire!!! Team work and intensity flowed and we dominated from start to end. The final score was a crushing 44 to 2 as we walked off the field singing our team song. Now that’s the way to end a day of football!!
So now the pressure was on. 9 teams had qualified for Nationals in Division 4 and only the top 4 teams made the semifinals for a chance to move on to the Championship–the rest played for rankings. So after a long wait we found out that our second big win had put us into 4th spot to play in the semi-final against number 1 seat Ft. Lauderdale. Man were we pumped!!!
Then the rain came down…
Saturday night and early Sunday morning it rained hard and when we arrived the fields where soggy and the parking lot was so slick that the bus actually got stuck in the mud… But no time for that now, we had a game to play, and what a game. Ft Lauderdale came out hard and we matched them play for play, slipping and sliding in the mud with a slick ball and a muddy field. At half time, we were 1 point down and it was anyone’s game.
The 2nd half got a little sloppy and team co-ordination slipped but everyone continued to play fiercely with the ball stalling in our forward line time and again. In the end a couple of good plays paid off for Ft Lauderdale and they ended up 10 points ahead at the final whistle.
A slightly disappointed home team walked off the field knowing that they had played their hearts out and after final rankings came in, we were satisfied with our overall 3rd ranking.
The Final/Championship game for our division was another close game with Ft. Lauderdale going down to Milwaukee by only 6 points.
All in all we’d played is a very close division especially in the top seats.
The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the higher divisions play their Final/Championship games and seeing just how well this game can flow and how beautiful and skillful it can be.
We then worked together as a team and pushed the bus out of the mud, packed up for the long drive back to BR and dropped the Houston guys off on the way. This completed another successful Nationals weekend, but unfortunately without a championship trophy.
It was ironic to see that every team that Baton Rouge had played this year made it to their own championship game. With this being a national but still growing sport, playing within your division is not always possible so we often play up and the teams we played this year in regular season (separate from our local metro league) included:
Ft. Lauderdale who played in the Div 4 Final/Championship
Atlanta who played in the Div 3 Final/Championship
Austin who played in the Div 2 Final/Championship and
Dallas who also played in and won the Div 2 Final/Championship
Dallas who won Division 2 will be moving up to Division 1 next year. That’s the highest level of Australian Football played in the US except for the ‘All Star’ team that goes to play in Australia every 3 years for the ‘International Cup’ against 20 other international teams
This is the official end of training and games for us for the 2011 season but we will continue to do fun fitness and skills training over the winter break, plus social events. So if anyone is interested in checking out this fabulous sport, now is a great time to contact us at BatonRougeTigers@gmail.com and get some of the basics down over the break to jump start the 2012 season.
It’s Going To Be AWESOME!!!!!