What's On Tap: Anzac Day Round 2023

After weeks of training, shaking of the dust and rust of the off season, and staying warm for a run, the time has come to kickstart the 2023 USAFL Season.

And what way to do it than around a time that is traditionally surrounded by Aussie Rules Football.

ANZAC Day is a solemn commemoration of those who served their country.  The sport is played overseas on the day between soldiers and veterans as a celebration of the Australian culture.

Here in the US, there will be five key early season events as the race to Nationals 2023 in Bradenton-Sarasota gets underway.  Seventeen clubs will take part in matches across the country, including a full on festival in Baton Rouge.

There is also metro action in Chicago, Cincinnati, and DC, plus the Orange County Giants will play in an International Rules match.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap for the season’s first big Game Day:

Baton Rouge Invitational Tournament
First game 10am CDT – Flanacher Park, Baton Rouge, LA

A full day of fun and footy gets the day off to a flying start in Baton Rouge.  The homesteading Tigers always know how to throw a footballing party, and players from Birmingham, Jacksonville, Wasatch, Houston, Dallas, and North Texas will be keen to open up the season with victories.  They’ll also be heading to the Annual Blues Festival in downtown Baton Rouge afterwards.

Baltimore Dockers v Philadelphia Hawks
12 noon EDT – Herring Run Park, Baltimore, MD

Two friendly rivals separated by 90 miles of I-95 kick their seasons off in the Charm City’s ANZAC Day festivities.  Baltimore took two of the three meetings between the sides last year, including a ten-point win in Philly’s ANZAC Day opener at the Hawks Nest.  This will be the fifteenth meeting between the sides since the Dock Show came into the league in 2018, which the series even at seven wins apiece.  There will also be a BBQ as part of the day.  Yum.

Battle for Brews - Kansas City Power v Des Moines Roosters v Oklahoma Buffaloes
First game Noon CDT – 122nd & Blue RIver Sports Complex, Kansas City, MO

Three old-school midwestern rivals will face off in a three-way round robin in KCMO, all looking to improve off of strong 2022s.  The hometown Power have steadily improved since returning to play two years ago, and combined with Des Moines last year to make the D4 Grand Final.  They’ll face off against the Roosters and a consistent Buffs side as they all make their 2023 debuts.  This will be KC’s first official match against Oklahoma since 2015.  The Roosters have taken all three against the Power since play returned in 2021, and they’ll play the Buffaloes for the first time since 2018 when the Iowans took two-of-three front he season.

Nashville Kangaroos v Columbus Cats/Boston Demons
2pm CDT – Elmington Park, Nashville, TN

Another old-school MAAFL rivalry is renewed as the Cats team up with members of the Boston Demons to head down to the Music City.  The Kangas are kicking off their 25th anniversary season, while the Cats are entering their 14th campaign.  Nashville is looking for revenge after being swept by the Cats in 2022, while the Cats are looking to level the all-time series; since 2010, Nashville has taken 11 of the 21 tustles between the teams.

San Diego Lions v Los Angeles Dragons
11:30am PDT – Field of Dreams, San Pedro, CA

Two National D1 teams, longtime rivals, and always a spirited game.  What a way to kick off things in Southern California.  The Lions were winners of two out of three matches against L.A. in 2022, cutting the Dragons’ lead in the series to 20-11.  Both teams are looking for a launching point for title runs both regionally and nationally, and here’s a great place to start.  This will be a great test for the new-look Dragons, and they’ll try to inaugurate their new jumpers with their first win in San Diego since 2017.


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