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

Next Up: St. Petersburg Swans/Tampa Bay ARFC

The Tigers enter this weekend’s contest brimming with confidence, having notched a neutral/road victory in Houston two weeks ago; a feat they failed to accomplish in 2016. They hope to build on that success against the visiting Swans and protect their home turf, where they were undefeated last year.

The St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay will be looking to go home from Baton Rouge with a better outcome than last year, where Baton Rouge defeated then 12.9.81 to 9.4.58. The Swans, who are consistently a good traveling club, will bring a strong and determined side with something to prove, having made the Division IV Finals at the 2016 Nationals, whereas the Tigers finished 5th.

Both sides are poised to make a lot of noise in 2017 and this match is setting itself up to be a great contest. So, if you like tough, hard-nosed football then you need to be at Clark Park on Saturday, May 6th at 2:00 p.m.!

Following the match, we are “happy” to welcome anyone and everyone to join us for the afterparty starting at 5:00 p.m. at Happy’s Downtown in downtown Baton Rouge. A special thanks to them for agreeing to hosting the event.

2017 Ruggles Cup Summary

After three months of hard training, the Tigers left Baton Rouge Friday night in search of their first live action of the USAFL season. After taking in the sights and sounds of beautiful Houston, Texas, they made their way to Cullen Park for their annual showdown with the Lonestars.

The Tigers’ first match of the day for the Ruggles Cup was against a Houston squad that just defeated Tulsa/OKC by a comfortable margin. It was easy to see that the Lonestars continued to fire on all cylinders early in the first half as the Tigers struggled for answers to slow down the Houston midfielders and keep the ball out of our defensive 50. After several halftime adjustments, and with some encouragement from Coach Heintze, the second half saw a group of Tigers playing with an increased confidence and intensity around the ball that helped them to win a few more contests and eventually kick 2.2.14 for the match. However, it was not enough to stop the Lonestars from kicking 12.7.79 and retaining the Ruggles Cup for 2017. Tigers Best: Ryan Baldasarro

The Tigers took a few breaths and regrouped to face off against Tulsa/OKC in their second game. We expected a tough, well coached club to make the trip down from Tulsa and they did not disappoint. However, the adjustments made in the second half of the first match were carried over into this contest, and there was no lack of intensity to be found from the Tigers in this one. As a result, the Tigers had more success moving the ball forward to impact the scoreboard than the Buffaloes. In the end, we pulled out our first victory of the season with a final of 7.7.49 to 3.5.23. Tigers Best: Austin LeBouef

All three clubs and supporters gathered at The Pheonix on Westheimer to celebrate the day. Meat pies were devoured, ice cold beers were drank, and rookies did their shots! A wonderful way to end a fantastic day of footy!

 

Next up: St. Pete/Tampa Bay on May 6th at 2pm at Clark Park in Baker, LA.

2017 Ruggles Cup Preview

In memory of our late, great, teammate, opponent, and friend Craig Ruggles, the Annual Ruggles Cup between the Houston Lonestars & Baton Rouge Tigers will take pace on April 22nd. This day also commemorates ANZAC Day, where the AFL in Australia remembers the Australian & New Zealand soldiers lost at Gallipoli in WWI.

This year, the Tulsa Buffalos will also be joining for a 3-way tournament.

When the Baton Rouge Tigers faced off against Houston and Tulsa in 2016, the contests were notable for lopsided contests. In the 2016 Ruggles Cup, Houston kept the Tigers on their heels and off the scoreboard, coming away with a commanding 4.7.31 to 0.0.0 victory. However, when the teams faced each other again in Baton Rouge in September, Baton Rouge held serve, running away with a 6.9.45 to 0.2.2 home victory.

In 2016, the Tigers would not meet the Buffaloes until Day 2 of Nationals. In what was effectively the season finale for both squads, the Tigers ran away with it to the tune of 11.4.70 to 1.0.6.

With plenty of offseason acquisitions and departures for all three teams, everyone is eager to test their progress in their first USAFL games this season.

The action commences at 11:00 when Houston takes on Tulsa. The full game schedule is:
11.00am – Houston vs Tulsa
12.00pm – Houston vs Baton Rouge
1.00pm – Baton Rouge vs Tulsa
2.00pm – All-Comers Game

Stay tuned for updates.