29 October 2013

AUGs is better than Mixed Nationals

The two big tournaments during the Mixed season in Australia are Australian University Games (AUGs) and Mixed Nationals.

And AUGs is better.

AUGs this year had 8 teams in Division 1 and around 20 teams in Division 2. Teams started their training in May for this October tournament. Some used regional university tournaments as preparation for their representative team, some sent less experienced players, using it as a development opportunity. I coached Monash at Southern Uni Games and we had a very rigorous campaign: tryouts, weekly trainings, voting for captaincy, defensive match ups carefully assigned, even the team requesting extra training sessions.

The competition at AUGs followed on from this.

Monash vs UWA in the semis. Again. Photo from Jared.
Two of the most widely known trends in Australian ultimate are from AUGs: UWA's many recent losses in the semifinals and Sydney University's many silver medals.

In comparison, can you name a notable trend for Mixed Nationals clubs? Can you even remember who won two years ago?

The 2013 Mixed Nationals final
The restrictions on AUGs lead to a better event. Players can only compete for their university. Teams have a very clear identity, and know who their rivals are. Relegation to Division 2 means two years of hard work to make it back to Division 1. Just ask UQ.

Almost every Division 1 AUG team had a coach this year.

In comparison, most Mixed Nationals teams don't have an ongoing identity. If a collection of friends from different regions can put a team together, some of them meeting each other on Day 1 of the tournament, and win gold easily, the value of winning the title is less than at AUGs. The fluctuating landscape of mixed clubs means none of the mixed teams that competed at WUCC2010 will attend WUCC2014, or even exist this year. Ongoing club names like Friskee, Cabs are Here, Funny Duck, Townsvillains and FEAR are a little more common, but are still in the minority.

And this is fine. It makes Mixed Nationals a more relaxed tournament, a fun-loving experience, a break from the intensity of the men's and women's seasons. Players get to play with their friends who they wouldn't normally play with. These are valuable attributes.

But it makes AUGs better than Mixed Nationals, despite there being more talent at Mixed Nationals. There is more competition, more development of players and clubs, more consistency in attendance by teams. And there is more satisfaction in winning a hard fought, fair game at AUGs.

This is the status quo for Australian mixed ultimate.

1 comment:

  1. Views on 2015 changes coming in?

    What will Mixed Ultimate look like afterwards? Is the path of Mixed being second-class ultimate one you, or Australia, is comfortable with?

    Could slotting a Mixed Division into AUC help keep it alive?