What's On Tap: May 18, 2024

Ah May.  Spring air, warm sun, and for many clubs, well into the 2024 USAFL Season.

The dynamic makeup of the USAFL means that some teams have several games under their belt, perhaps a few metros here and there, and are well into midseason form.  Others are just beginning to stir, beginning or are posed to begin their journey to hopefully raising a trophy or two in Austin come October.

But for now, we are staring down the first real big weekend of the season.  We have four regional rivalry matchups happening in three cities, and an additional three tournaments occurring.  Two of those tournaments will be 10-a-side format, which means rapid-fire amuse-bouches of Aussie Rules for those who come out to the ground.

If you’re in Philly, Baltimore, North Georgia, Houston, Des Moines or San Diego, we hope you’ll support local Aussie Rules and catch you out at the ground.

Here’s a look at what’s going on this Saturday:

80/35 10-a-Side Tournament (M)
Starts 9am CDT – Des Moines Rugby Club, West Des Moines, IA
Des Moines Roosters (0-0), Kansas City Power (0-0), Wisconsin Wombats (0-0), Minnesota Freeze (0-0), Oklahoma Buffaloes (0-0)

Five midwest clubs get their seasons started with the now familiar event in Iowa.  The Freeze are the defending champions, having pipped the host Roosters in the Grand Final a season ago.  This year, the teams will play a round-robin, with the best record claiming the tournament.  This will be a good litmus test for the clubs as to how their fortunes may run this season, especially with Nationals in their own region this year.

Three Rivers Cup (M)
Starts Noon EDT– Grizzard Park, Rome, GA
Rome Redbacks (0-0), Atlanta Kookaburras (0-0), Birmingham Bushrangers (0-0), Nashville Kangaroos (1-1)

For the fourth year running, teams from across the southeast converge upon Rome, Georgia for this growing staple in the region.  The home team is looking for their first win in their showcase carnival; their brethren from Atlanta won in 2022, sandwiched between Bushies’ titles in ‘21 and ‘23.  The Roos strike out on the road for the first time, having fallen to Columbus and besting Chicago at home to start the season.

Baltimore vs DC & Virginia (M)
11am EDT – Father Hooper Fields at Herring Run Park, Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Dockers (4-0) v D.C. Eagles (1-3), Virginia Lions (2-1)

Fresh off their Mid-Atlantic Cup triumph, the Dock Show returns home to square off against the Lions and Eagles in an all I-95 battle.  Baltimore took two out of the three matches between them and DC a year ago, while the Lions are looking for their first ever win against the Orange and Black.

Philadelphia Home Opener
Starts 11am EDT – Lower Perkiomen Valley Park, Oaks, PA
Womens: D.C. Eagles (0-0) v New York Magpies (0-2)
Men’s: Philadelphia Hawks (1-2) v New York Magpies (0-0)

The defending Men’s D3 National Champions open up their home schedule against arch-rival New York at the Hawks nest.  The Pies, who will feature Tom “Prime Train” Baluch in this matchup, have won seven straight against Jon Loring’s side.  Philly put together a solid 1-1 performance at the MAC and are looking for their first win over NYC since 2019.

Opening things up will be another regional rivalry, as the DC and Philly women combine to entertain the visitors from Gotham.  Drea Casillas and company fought hard in the Pony Platter up in Ottawa and will try to score their first “W” of the season against the Capital crew.  2023’s matches saw the teams split four matchups, with New York posting a 22-point victory at Nationals.

Houston v Baton Rouge (M)
11am CDT – Cullen Field at the University of Houston, Houston, TX
Houston Lonestars (2-0) v Baton Rouge Tigers (1-1)

Ruggles Cup Rivals renew pleasantries as the Tigers head west to face the ‘Stars.  Houston won the first matchup in Baton Rouge 56-24, but now it’s up to Garrett Remson and the bayouites to try and get some revenge over Jesse Carcamo and friends in the tri-colors.

Rob Dollar Cup 10-a-side Tournament (M)
Starts 10am PDT – Black Mountain Middle School, San Diego, CA
Arizona Hawks (1-0), Los Angeles Dragons (0-0), [Orange County (0-1)/Las Vegas (0-0)], Sacramento Suns (0-0), San Diego Lions (0-0)

Originally contested in Phoenix, this metro-style carnival named after the late Arizona Hawks player makes its triumphant return… this time in San Diego, as things kick into gear for clubs in Cali and the Southwest.  Los Angeles were the winners of the last iteration in 2019 after Austin took the inaugural event.  Will the Dragons repeat, or will someone new hoist the Dollar Cup?  All proceeds from the tournament on the day benefit the Rob Dollar Foundation for road cycling safety awareness.

Photo: Michael Banks


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