Australian Regionals: 2012 Preview

by | March 8, 2012, 10:05pm 0

This piece is brought to you by Ulti.TV‘s Force Sideline

Here in Australia, we like to do things differently. Christmas Day is hot and sunny, cars drive on the left side of the road, and our internet uses a long string between two tin cans. That last one is completely untrue, but another thing we do differently is have our club season run from October-ish until April. This weekend is Regionals weekend and we thought we’d take you through what may happen in the run to Australian Ultimate Championships 2012.

The Big Five

Australian ultimate is broken up into five regions – West (Western Australia), North (Queensland and Northern Territory), East (New South Wales and ACT), South (Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) and New Zealand. Every region gets one bid to Nationals, and the next seven are based on results from the previous year. There is also an extra bid for the South region (due to it being so spread out), a spot the AFDA can allocate itself, and two wildcards which are based on the size of Regionals. This year, the AFDA have allocated the open spot to the East region (taking their total to six), and the women’s spot to Singapore who will be attending AUC in the women’s division for the first time.

North Region

The North region has already had their Regionals – they held it early so their number one open and women’s teams can play at Easterns for match practice. North has been dominated for years by the one open team – Firestorm. Based in Brisbane, their highest profile player – Mike Neild – is sitting out this season, leaving a big hole in their lineup. However they are still a strong team with Australian representatives Chris Cunliffe (Open 2012), John McNaughton (U23s Open 2010) and Reece Stewart (Junior Boys 2010) leading the charge. They won Northerns comfortably over Slamtown Flatball Club from the Gold Coast, and Firestorm Ignition (their B side). Slamtown and Ignition now have to wait on the outcome of wildcards, however early maths indicates they will both get bids. On the women’s side, North has just the one club – Black Betty (Brisbane). Despite only managing 9th place at AUC 2011, Black Betty are looking to improve this year with a number of rookies listed this season.

West Region

West is similar to North in that they have dominant clubs in each division attracting the best players, with smaller clubs viewing Regionals as their “end of season” tournament. Sublime’s best known players are John Damiani (Aussie Mixed team in 2012), Paul Denyer (Open in 2012) and Kendall Thorn (Mixed in 2012). They have a wonderful depth of talent whose game is starting to mature as the core of the group have been playing together at University of Western Australia and at Sublime for years. Last year at AUC they surprised everyone with an undefeated run in the power pools but fell flat in the playoffs to slump to eighth. This year they should be better prepared to go for all four days. Women’s club Kaos have only been together for a couple of seasons but they are already on the rise. Last year they claimed sixth place at AUC, up from 11th place in 2010. Danya Meakins (Aussie Women’s team 2012), Simone Ryan (U23 Women in 2010) and Sarah Brereton will be their key players.

South Region

The South region has seen a couple of teams take some big hits in player losses. Melbourne’s Chilly (bronze medallists from WUCC 2006, 2nd place at AUC 2011) have lost eight of their senior squad to the 2012 Masters team (who play club season together) as well as a handful of others to various other reasons. The majority of their list this year is last year’s B team, but their star players Luke Stephens and Lee Baker should carry them to a couple of wins. Karma (Adelaide) have lost several star players and will be relying on some of their support players to step up and take major roles. New club GFUC (Geelong) have made the step up from Junior club to Open club, bringing several of Aussie Thunder’s (Junior Boys team) 2010 squad with them, supplemented by Jake Angelovich (U23 Open 2010) and a few Thunder 2012 players. We expect them to qualify for Nationals in their first campaign. Heads of State Burgundy (20th at WUCC 2010) have recruited heavily this season and boast a squad of 13 current and former Australian representatives including Owen Shepherd and Daniel Rule. After a heartbreaking pre-semi loss to cross-town rivals Chilly at AUC2011 they are pumped to go further this season. They should comfortably win this weekend, but their B squad Heads of State White have a tougher battle ahead for qualification, having to knock off any of the previously mentioned teams, or gain a wildcard. Led by U23 rep and Thunder coach Matt Hill, and former Masters rep Chris Stephens, they won’t make life easy for anyone.

East Region

East has traditionally been the strongest region in Australia. Sydney club Colony (6th at WUCC 2010) take two split teams to Nationals and have claimed two of the top three places in 2010 and 2011. Both squads are littered with Aussie reps from all age levels. Colony Plunder has Rory Connell, Mark Evans, Gavin Moore, Joel Pillar, Jonathan Potts, Tom Tulett and Tiger Webb; Colony Pillage has Pete Blakeley, Ant Dowle, Pete Gardner, Gus Keenan and Ken Shepherd. Hard to see these teams not take the top two spots but only one made the final at Sydney-Melbourne Open this year, proving just about anything can happen on the day. 2010 champions I-Beam (Newcastle) only have a small squad (twelve players) this weekend, headed by Tim Lavis (Truck Stop 2011, Aussie Open team 2012) and supported by Tim Lindsay-Brown (Mixed) and Chris Hill (Open). They should seal qualification and will look a lot better at AUC in their home town. Canberra’s Fyshwick United have long been the bridesmaids of the top level in Australia, finishing between 2nd and 5th in the last four seasons. Matt Dowle and Jonno Holmes are their most well known players and attract a lot of defensive attention, allowing players such as Asher Gentle and Gareth Beyers to slip under the radar. Masters team Wombats are a who’s-who of Australian ultimate with names such as Tom Rogacki, Piers Truter, Simon Wood, John Greenfield and Chris Warris on their squad of 29. The battle for the sixth and final bid will be the one to watch, with Sydney teams Bench and Magnum vying for the last tickets to the show. Magnum qualified last year but we think that the younger guys from Bench might sneak in this year.

Women’s Division

The women’s division in recent years has been about two of the Melbourne teams – Honey (27th at WUCC 2010)and Sporting Team Box Athletico United (STBAU). With 10 of the 2012 Australian women’s team between them, their rivalry has produced some classic games but STBAU have kept the ascendancy in recent years, thanks to the killer group of Clare Hussey, Joy Lee, Michelle Phillips, Cat Phillips, Ash Martens. They may miss Liz Edye this weekend, who is playing in the East region for Factory. Honey’s key players Lauren Brown and Steph Malcher will be hard to contain. Adelaide club Safire produced one of the upsets of the year in 2011, beating Honey into the Southerns final, however this year they have lost a couple of their better players and will be fielding a number of rookies. Squadron have stepped out from the shadows of their sister club STBAU and have become a quality team in their own right, with a number of former Aussie Junior Girls reps on their list. With Honey going with two split squads this season, it is a great chance for Squadron to gain a higher seeding for AUC to improve on 2011’s 12th place.

Not since 2006 have we seen a women’s final at Nationals not include Wildcard (19th at WUCC 2010). The club has produced seven of the Women’s WUGC team and two of the Mixed team and have and amazing depth of talent across their two teams Wildcard Mirage and Wildcard Bellagio. We think Bellagio might just have the better of Mirage, but we’ve been wrong about their two teams just about every year! Canberra’s Factory had a breakthrough season last year, making their first Nationals final (losing to Wildcard). With the addition of Liz Edye to their team they should be on track to repeat last year’s success. Since the amalgamation of the Manly and Hills clubs in Sydney, Sand Dunes have hit the big time straight away, finishing 4th in 2010 and 5th in 2011. Easterns is a tough field but the athletic squad lead by Anna Haynes, Tania King, Nikki Shires and Sarah Wentworth should get top four this weekend and will aim for the same at AUC. This year no women’s teams will miss the cut so this weekend will be a valuable hit out for Phoenix (Sydney), Rabble (Sydney), Sugar Magnolias (Newcastle) and Factory Smokestack (Canberra). We like the look of Phoenix, with Lisi Moore (Aussie Mixed team 2012) and Ellie Sparke (U23 Women’s team 2010) leading the young squad. Rabble have been revived from long standing club Southside who had a disappointing Nationals campaign (8th) after winning Easterns in 2011. Sugar Magnolias have a handful of players from the Pie Wagon team at WUCC 2010 but may be lacking the depth needed in a difficult tournament, while Factory Smokestack will be fighting an uphill battle with only ten players.

By Sunday night we will know who is going to be part of the field at Australian Ultimate Championships 2012 at the end of April. While the top end of the field has always been high quality, the bottom end of the draw is getting better and better every year. We think that even the “beer bracket” (13th to 16th) in both divisions will be demanding games this year. To round up, here are our predictions on who will qualify from each region, and we’ll keep you posted with more news as we get closer to AUC 2012!


  • North – Black Betty (Brisbane)
  • West – Kaos (Perth)
  • South – STBAU (Melbourne), Honey (Melbourne), Safire (Adelaide), Squadron (Melbourne)
  • East – Wildcard Bellagio (Sydney), Factory (Canberra), Wildcard Mirage (Sydney), Sand Dunes (Sydney), Phoenix (Sydney), Rabble (Sydney), Sugar Magnolias (Newcastle), Factory Smokestack (Canberra)
  • NZ – New Zealand Women’s WUGC team
  • AFDA – Singapore


  • North – Firestorm (Brisbane), Slamtown Flatball Club* (Gold Coast), Firestorm Ignition* (Brisbane)
  • West – Sublime (Perth)
  • South – Heads of State Burgundy (Melbourne), GFUC (Geelong), Heads of State White (Melbourne), Chilly* (Melbourne), Karma (Adelaide)
  • East – Colony Plunder (Sydney), Colony Pillage (Sydney), Fyshwick United (Canberra), Wombats (Masters WUGC team), I-Beam (Newcastle), Bench (Sydney)
  • NZ – New Zealand Open WUGC team

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