Back in the day, everyone who wanted to attend Nationals could do so. They simply needed to either get in good with the senior players of the local team, or could band together and form their own outfit. In these modern times of the ‘Australian Ultimate Championships’ era, the star local teams remain with their poxy concepts of “fitness” and “training” but there is no room for the celebrated pickup-ish team. The team of up and comers, or has-beens, or both who would be the focus of a Mighty Ducks style documentary were they to make AUC proper. Division II Nationals has been created for those teams. There is now a place for teams to be formed with mismatched uniforms, rudimentary tactics and lack of proper cohesion in order to make a run at a national title that doesn’t have the word ‘mixed’ in it.
Being in Melbourne, there is a very obvious stacking of the Southern region in the make up of teams, with four of the ten being based in Melbourne. Also notable was the rule change allowing teams to have up to two AUC players in their squads, a rule which most teams have taken advantage of.
Hot Chilly have failed to make AUC in their last two campaigns so this season have turned their focus to this tournament. Many of their team played with Chilly at Southern Regionals, and a fair chunk of the squad have spent the last season and a half training together. However their big weakness lies in their disc movement being too static – without some fluid movement they will struggle to find gaps in strong defences. Jinwei Tang and Rich Edwards are good bets for break throws, while Bidyut Dumra, Sam Gibb and Cory Jemison will be dangerous receivers. Another team that shifted their focus this season are Hobart’s Quoll. After being ghettostomped by everyone at AUC2011, their lineup for this weekend is different but somewhat depleted in numbers. Pat Dunne and Steven Wright will be shouldering the bulk of the work. GFUC won themselves a ticket to AUC in impressive fashion at Southerns, but couldn’t get the numbers to Newcastle and instead will aim their tilt at a Div II title. With the top end of their squad joining AUC teams, they won’t be as strong as Southerns but opponents can still expect a fierce D game, particularly from Damian Condon and Sam Rothstadt. We hope they can perform well this weekend without their top regulars and carry the momentum into season 2013.
Mixed club Funny Duck have branched out into the Open field, with most of their squad possessing only league experience. While they play together well, a bad beat in the early rounds (against HoS Black or Ultimatum) could shake the confidence of the newer players. A full day’s play in 27 degree weather could also take its toll by the day’s end when they face Real Mitchell FC. Expect Rob Lock and Matt Howarth to cause trouble on D. Crudely named League of SE Men are also a new entity, drawing from a pocket of players out in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs. While there will be plenty of debutantes among their list, the experienced hands of Lee Baker, Kristan Pash, Andrew Reeves and David Colls should guide them to at least a couple of wins.
Heads of State’s massive recruiting drive has seen them produce a third team – HoS Black – led by 2011 HoS White’s Andy McLean. This squad has a lot of raw talent, and will still be running rings around opponents on Sunday afternoon. We’re particularly interested in how the Kameme brothers (Troy and Jay) and Dylan McFarlane go in the Open game – this trio will be the key to Victoria Uni’s success in the winter. We’re tipping them to be on the end of many Moby Espitia hucks. HoS Black’s round three match-up ought to be game of the day on Saturday. Their opponents – Ballarat Ultimate – will be led by 2012 Dingo Lachlan McDonald and 2010 Goanna Sam Kuchel with support from former HoS White players Rohan Murdoch, Dallas Jones and Adam Barnes. The B-Town outfit are bringing a large squad, borrowing many current and former BUUF players in what looks like a pretty balanced squad. Barring injuries, we’re expecting to see them competing late on Sunday.
The three teams who competed at Wallflowers a couple of weeks ago make the treacherous journey into Mexico with strong squads. Canberra’s Real Mitchell FC are big on numbers with a squad of 17, many of which have seen AUC action in the past. Brett Massey will be the player of note, and we also liked the form of Philippe McCracken (a name we are certain cannot be legit) at Mixed Nats last year for Burley Griffins. Sydney’s Darling It Hurts put in a gutsy performance at Easterns against superior opponents and they should be battle-hardened enough to exploit newer teams this weekend. Eternally youthful Wally Crocker will get some attention, while we like Abhimanyu Nithyanand and Michael Soo. Finally there’s Ultimatum, who we would struggle to place as being from any particular place, with players from Canberra, Melbourne, and all over New South Wales. At Wallflowers they proved just how beatable Real Mitchell and Darling It Hurts are, and the inclusion of Chilly’s Steve Thomas and HoS White’s Simon Talbot give them some extra depth. We think they’re in the tougher of the two pools, and their round three clash with Real Mitchell FC could eventuate into a semi final berth.
The draw sees two pools of five, with the top placings going straight to semis, with second and third crossing over for the other two spots. We fed all the numbers into the FS Amiga500 and after it overheated four times in as many days (and a brief episode where we thought it may have actually been Skynet), it spat out predicted results that had League of SE Men and Ballarat Ultimate topping the pools, with HoS Black/Hot Chilly and Real Mitchell FC/Darling It Hurts contesting the presemis. That leads us to our final predictions for this weekend.
1. Ballarat Ultimate
2. HoS Black
3. League of SE Men
4. Real Mitchell FC
5. Darling It Hurts
6. Hot Chilly
10. Funny Duck