Best Tournament Ever.

From one perspective, anyway.

I’ve just returned from a week in Melbourne for the 15th Australian University Games. It’s probably one of the more memorable weeks I have had in recent years. It would at least be up there with the 1992 National Mathematics Summer School.

I’ve called it, from one perspective, the Best Tournament Ever. By that, I mean the tournament that I have had the most personal success at. I played 9 games, lost to only two teams, and refereed 11 games. All but one of those 20 games was on the first four days - I saved myself for the Bronze medal game on the Friday.

For the past two years, Flinders Uni has not won a single game of Touch Football at the AUG. This year was a bit different.

We started by playing University of NSW, who we expected to be quite tough. Indeed, after my initial touchdown at the very beginning of the game (I think I caught them off guard) they scored a few early touchdowns, and at one stage were up by about 3. However, we clawed our way back to a first victory, 5-4.

With the team then on a high, we played Charles Darwin Uni, who were one of the less strong teams in the competition. We played very well, and consistently kept on scoring. 16-0 was the final score, which would later prove to be an important victory.

Day two came, and half the team was still drunk by the start of the 11am game. This one was a different story to the previous day, with Queensland University of Technology up first. They were a much faster, more polished team, and we didn’t manage to overcome them. Final score: 5-11, although in the second half, I think we actually outscored them by one. (On a personal note, in this game I scored 4 touchdowns, and passed the ball to James who scored the other. It was probably the best individual game I played all week).

Second game of the day was against University of Sydney, who turned out to be our best friends by the end of the competition. This game was played in great spirit, and resulted in a draw, with 5 touchdowns apiece.

Day three was still at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, and we started off with ACU, who only started the game with 5 girls, and no boys. Technically this is not allowed (there must be at least one male and no more than three on the field at any time), but we let them play. It was only a couple of minutes before the rest of their players arrived, but the final score was 11-4 our way. By this stage, we were in second place in our pool, and actually thinking for the first time that we might make finals.

The last game at SHNC was against LaTrobe Uni. Another not-so-close game, with us getting over the line with a comfortable 8-2. The fields were now in tatters, and thankfully we moved to Monash Clayton for the next day’s competition.

The final round game for us was against University of Technology Sydney. We were ahead of Sydney Uni only on percentage, and they needed to beat LaTrobe by 11 more touchdowns than us to knock us out of the semi-finals. We won our game 9-5, and Sydney won 13-1. It was that close - our touchdown difference was one better than theirs! In actuality, the first game of the tournament was what cost them their place in the final. They played CDU, and only won 9-0. They fluffed about 10 other touchdowns, many of them passing unnecessarily to a girl to get her to score her first for the tournament. Having said that, two of our boys didn’t make it until half time, so we played the first half of the game with one (and a bit) males.

Finals were a bit tougher. We played in the crossover game with the top-ranked team from the other pool, University of Notre Dame Australia, who were very polished. This was the only game I personally didn’t score a touchdown in, and we ended up losing this 13-1, our worst result for the whole tournament. QUT lost to the second ranked team in the other 1-vs-2 crossover, so we were set to face them for the Bronze Medal.

I wasn’t expecting us to have much success in our second run at QUT. They had twice as many boys (by this stage, we were down from 5 to 3 male players, I was limping on both legs, and both other boys were struggling too).

The game began with a bang. We scored first, followed by QUT. We then managed to score another three consecutive touchdowns, and were looking in a strong position. Eventually, however, QUT scored a couple more, and by the main break, we were only leading by one, 4-3. The second half proved too much for us, with us only able to find the scoreline once more, while they managed to get in another 6 touchdowns. Final result, 5-9. Better than our round game, but not good enough for the medal.

So, that was the playing stuff. I hinted earlier that the games were crappy in other ways. I personally refereed 11 games over 4 days, which was way more than I really wanted to. There wasn’t much choice - we were short staffed for referees, so I just coped. At the Monash fields, things were even worse, apparently. I think it turned out we ended up having the better of the referee situation, so I can’t complain too much.

It gets worse. On the first day, the fields were not even marked. Games started nearly two-hours late, and overall the organisation was just woeful. I kept making jokes that it was so poorly planned because it was in Melbourne, and I was only half joking. Last year the School Sport Australia champs were there, and again there were fuckups all over the show. I don’t know if it was Monash Sport this time, or if Touch Football Victoria had their fangs in the pot too.

Still, it wound up being fun. They haven’t announced the Green and Gold as yet, so that might still be a possibility. It would cap it off for me.

SSSSA Touch 2007 Report

Here is a report on the 2007 School Sport Australia Touch Football tournament I wrote for the Touch Football South Australia website. Not sure if it is up there yet, but here’s what I wrote anyway.

Secondary School Sport SA, in conjunction with Touch Football SA, were again represented this year at the School Sport Australia National Championships. With Monash University providing a fantastic site, including newly surfaced fields, it was nice to actually have grass under our feet.

The teams travelled together, and having had a much closer relationship throughout the training campaign than in the past, this set the tone for the trip. With a direct flight from Adelaide to Melbourne, at not too unreasonable a time, both teams were pumped for the weeks competition. After arrival in Melbourne, and a long bus ride from Tullamarine to the accommodation, the players were met by a blast of un-Melbourne-like hot weather.

The good weather didn’t hold for the whole week, however, with rain on most of the competition days. At least the sun was out for the trip to the MCG on the Wednesday, where our lovely tour guide, Brian, provided us with a fun, interesting tour of the famous ground.

Competition was tough on the first day of games. With both boys and girls teams facing the big two - QLD and NSW - it was always going to be hard work. Both teams showed plenty of spirit against well drilled and capable players from the eastern seaboard, with the boys managing a touchdown against their QLD opponents.

The second day of games was much more interesting. With three potentially winnable games against Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, both teams were eager to win, but were disappointed with their performance in the morning games. The boys in particular looked to have the game in hand, but struggled to keep the Tasmanian boys from scoring enough touchdowns to steal a draw in the dying minutes. The girls came back from this result to resoundingly beat Victoria in their second game of this day, and were finally looking like they had travelled for a reason. However, they ran out of legs in the final game of the day, and couldn’t manage to keep WA’s half runners from finding their targets.

As mentioned previously, after the strenuous second day of competition, the Wednesday was a day of rest, with a trip to the MCG, and then to IMAX cinema for an entertaining, yet still educational movie about Dinosaurs.

The final round games were against “The Territories”, with opportunities to beat both ACT and NT going begging in both games. By this time the strain of the tournament was starting to show on the bodies of the players - whilst the fields had grass on them, they were still hard enough to leave a nasty graze.

The finals were another chance for both teams to play against teams they could have beaten the first time around. Again, whilst at times it looked like both teams could have won their way through to the Plate Final, the girls struggled against a young yet effective Tasmanian team, and the boys were unable to top the NT team. And so it came to the 7v8 playoffs. The SA girls again managed to dispatch the Victorians, with a great captain’s effort by Georgia Brown to score four touchdowns in the one game, and Beth Fairfield almost winding up to top speed to score a couple more. The boys battled valiantly, but again struggled against Tasmania, who outscored them in the second half.

A hard, yet enjoyable week. With mostly first-time players in both teams, some new to touch football altogether, and many being eligible to play again in 15s next year, the trip to Launceston for next year’s tournament promises to be just as much fun. As our state develops and these junior players filter into our senior ranks, you can bet you’ll see plenty of them playing at a high level in the future.

Awards.

Boys.

  • Coaches - Tom Starkey
  • MVP - Alex Peecock
  • Players Player - Billy Macklin

Girls.

  • Coaches - Abbey Freer
  • MVP - Kelly Rowe
  • Players Player - Georgia Brown

Colley Reserve

Well, I’ve just come home from the most fun tournament on the TouchSA calendar. The Colley Reserve 5-a-side tournament is down at Glenelg, and is a single day tournament that is stacks of fun. My team was a UniSA+others team, organised by Paul Rogers. We managed to remain undefeated until the Grand Final, when the hand-picked “The Drought” team, with all current or ex-state and/or Crusaders _players, beat us 3-1. We had been very strong all day, with the highest score (it’s a 20-minute turnaround game) 10-0, and the best for and against record. We comfortably won the Semi-final against a team from Gawler, but struggled against _The Drought. Thanks to all of my team for a good fun day.

Back from Perth

Well, I’ve been in Perth for the last week, for this year’s School Sport Australia National Touch Football Championships. I’m a bit tired to do a proper write-up of what went on, and how we went, but I may do it later. In short, we beat Victoria twice, 4-1 each time, and lost to every other team. The girls played okay, but I still felt they played a bit below their best. I was pretty disappointed with a couple of the games, but generally had a pretty good time.

Stealth Forwarding Slowness

One site I am responsible for is that of my Touch club, Central Scorpions. I did have a blog set up, but have migrated to the system my association uses for results and fixtures. I set up a lovely domain name, and using stealth forwarding, I had that stay in the address bar. We really only want people to visit via the main page, anyway, so that doesn’t raise issues of not being able to bookmark a specific page. However, using IE (Win), if I have a stealth forwarding setup, the site runs v.e.r.y…s.l.o.w. Under Firefox (Mac) it’s fine, and if I use a standard redirect, this is fine too. So, stealth forwarding must do something strange, that IE doesn’t like in conjunction with the js for the rollovers, I think. It may have something to do with the way it’s set up as a frame, I’m not sure.

More State Trials

This weekend was the SAPSASA Touch Trials, which are for boys and girls aged 12 and under. Since I have a vested interest in making sure the best group of 12s girls gets selected as possible, being that I get them when they turn 13, I tend to come out and help run/select at these trials. This year’s bunch of 10, 11 and 12 year-olds was astounding. It really seems like our state development programs are starting to work out. Each year we seem to have a better group of kids than the years before. Even though there were only just over the 14 that each team takes away, this is better than in recent years where we have had to find extra players. And almost without exception, all of the kids trialling know the rules better than the first group of 15s I took away did. Mind you, those girls are now all over 18, and some of them have played State Women’s Open, and Crusaders 20s, so not taking anything away from all of them. I wound up running the grids on both days, and helping with the selection of the girls team. I really enjoy working with kids that age, but I think I could only handle so much of it before I tired of the young-ness of them. If you know what I mean.

State Touch Trials

Well, it hardly seems like a year since the last 15s trials, but it must be. Last weekend was the date, and over the Saturday and Sunday, we had a total of 33 girls trial. What was excellent again this year was the general standard of the girls. Virtually all of them had very good ball skills, and most were quite athletic. It was, as I always seem to be saying in my letters out to candidates, very hard to select a team from a pool of talent like this. Having said that, we’ve selected what we deemed to be the 21 best girls from the weekend, and in about a month I’ll be holding further trials, over a couple of weekends. Following that, there will be a selection of 14 girls to be in the final team, and then training begins in earnest. And then, at the end of October, it’s off to Perth for a week.

State League Wrap Up

Me running (fast?)

TouchSA have put up a Wrap Up of the State League Grand Finals - the short news is that Scorpions, my region, won the Mixed and Womens, but not the Mens, and won the overall Regional Champions. And yes, that is a tasty photo of me running about as fast as I can manage nowadays.

What a Weekend!

It started on Friday night with Touch training. I coached rather than training, as I was carrying a bit of a hamstring injury, and I wanted to give it a bit more rest. Still, it meant I didn’t get home until around 8. I’m just glad I chose not to ride my bike! Saturday was the annual Colley Reserve 5-a-side Touch Carnival. Normally Touch is played with 6 on the field, but for a more exciting game, and because the fields are a bit smaller, this carnival plays with 5. It’s mixed, so 3 boys and 2 girls are the order of the day. I played in the UniSA team, knowing only two of the players beforehand. The guys, and most of the girls were pretty nice people, and we wound up making the final in the Pool B division. Which we lost, to a team that pretty much plays together all of the time. When I got home, at around 6pm or so, I started doing some editing on my post I’m writing over on OmniNerd. I actually spent a fair bit of time on this, and although I disagreed with the editor’s comments on a couple of things (like placing an embedded clause in commas, something I do) I feel that the feedback made my article better. It’s still not ready to publish, but it’s probably 75% of the way there. The most interesting thing for me is that it’s a different style of writing than a blog post. A blog post, by it’s nature, is very free-flowing, and can at times lack structure. I very rarely edit my posts on this blog, although I sometimes correct errors. If I make them. (Reminds me of the joke: I was wrong once. I thought I was wrong, but I was actually right.) By the time Jaq got home from little Shae’s birthday party (9:30pm), freaking out because there was a big spider on the car, which I had to squish for her, I was about ready for bed, so I dozed almost right off. Jaq had to head into Uni this morning at 11, so I got up just as she left, and started finalizing my Tax documents. I put all of my stuff into a spreadsheet, and it didn’t really take as long as I thought it might. Then, I caught up on all of my RSS feeds, and by the time Jaq got home this time, I had to head off to State League. I played in the Mixed, where we won 8-2 (I only scored one of these, but set up a couple of others, including a great boomer with Karina McL), and then coached the Mens from the box (there is another playing coach, but sometimes it’s handy to have extra eyes off the field).

State League

I played my first game of representative Touch in about a year yesterday. And I loved it. My team, the Central Scorpions, won by 11-4 over the Wolves. And I scored either 4 or 5 Touchdowns. I think having not played for so long just made me so hungry. And I feasted.