Denver wins 2000 Championship

LOS ANGELES (Tuesday, October 17, 2000) The Denver Bulldogs nipped the San Diego Lions at the wire to win the 4th Annual Coopers National Tournament of Australian Rules Football. The tournament played in Little Lake Park in Santa Fe Springs, California, over the October 14 and 15 weekend, featured 16 teams from across the Unites States playing 37 games over the course of two days. In the Grand Final, both the Bulldogs and Lions were playing their sixth 40-minute game in two days. The final score of the Grand Final was 3-4-22 for the Bulldogs to 3-2-20 for the Lions (please see below for scoring definitions).

Bulldogs star Richard Mann, who is also President of the United States Australian Football League ("USAFL") said of the game, "it was a tough grind. Basically it was a question of whoever had their nose in front at the end of the game. There had to be a winner and a loser." Mann summed up the game by saying "after the game I still didn't believe we'd won until we were all celebrating a couple minutes afterward and I said to myself 'yeah, we did it!''

San Diego's coach, Chris Stiegler saw the turning point of the game midway through the second half when "we missed some easy opportunities in front of goal." The Lions comeback looked to be complete when their star, Cameron Trickey O'Brien, a former Australian Football League player (Brisbane and Collingwood) whose courageous play on a badly sprained ankle had put the team in a position to win -- lined up for a 40 yard shot at goal which floated wide right of the post for a behind. Stiegler also pointed to the Bulldogs' final goal which San Diego players failed to touch through for a behind.

Denver's Kyle Weir was honored as Most Valuable Player of the Grand Final for his swerving runs through the San Diego defense as well as his effective use of the ball, linking play in most of the Bulldogs most crucial thrusts. The Bulldogs' Larry Butterfield, an American, who has only played the sport for two years, was the tournament Most Valuable Player. Tyler Bourke of the Boston Demons was awarded as the Most Consistent player in the tournament.

Mann saw the emergence of Denver and San Diego from tough semi-final matchups with last year's finalists, Boston and the Santa Cruz 'Roos as evidence of the continued growth of the sport in the United States. "Its not so much that Boston and Santa Cruz have gone backwards as that these other teams have made substantial progress.

Points in Australian Football are scored by kicking the ball through the four goal posts at either end of the field. A "goal" (or "major score") is six points and is recorded when the ball travels through the two larger posts in the center. A "behind" (or "minor score") is one point and is recorded when the ball travels through either set of outer posts. Minor scores are also added when the ball is kicked or carried over the defensive goal line by a defensive player. Scores are listed as Major scores - Minor scores - Total score (as an example, in the case of the USAFL Grand Final, the Bulldogs scored 3 goals and 4 points for a total of 22 points).

Australian Rules Football is a fast, free-flowing game that combines aspects of soccer, American Football, rugby and basketball. It is a full contact sport featuring fast pace and athletic skills. The sports rules were codified in 1858 and probably predate all other modern forms of football such as American, Canadian, Rugby Union and League, soccer, and Gaelic Football. Today, Australian Rules Football is a multi-million dollar business in Australia with other leagues in Britain, Canada, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, and here in the United States. For more information about the USAFL, please visit the USAFLs official Web site: For a complete description of the game, please visit

The USAFL began in 1998 and has grown to 34 teams across the United States. Originally played by expat Australians and only a handful of Americans, the sport is finding many avid American disciples. In this past season, USAFL required that 40% of the players on the field of each team are American. Next season, the USAFL will mandate that 50% of the players on the field of each team are American.

- Michael Gardiner

Posted in 
Watch AFL