Younger clubs rising but San Diego break the Dogs

Saturday, October 14 2006 @ 10:25 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey

The 2006 US Nationals have been run and won in Las Vegas. This year saw some new clubs taking out titles or rising up the rankings, but in the end it was regular west coast powerhouse San Diego that managed to snap Denver's stranglehold on the top ranking.

Division One

The San Diego Lions knocked off the Denver Bulldogs with a surprisingly comfortable margin in the Division One final. The rivalry between the two clubs is clearly unmatched in US footy history. The Lions have long been the main contender for the Bulldogs' crown and only just went down to them in 2005, losing their crucial pool match by less than a goal. It must not be the year of the dog, as in a remarkable parallel in Australia, also on the very same day, the run of the Central District Bulldogs came to a crashing end. They too had dominated their competition (the South Australian National Football League), winning 5 of the last 6 premierships - quite a feat given they had never won before. Their reign began in 2000 (just as Denver's did) and they lost in the final this year, like Denver's Bulldogs. Of course in both cases the incredible run of form had to come to an end one day, and in Denver's case, they must surely remain the most respected club in the United States.

No doubting that Pool B was the tough one, with New York and Orange County both very close to edging past Denver. The hard fought pool matches may well have contributed to Denver going down in the final, though San Diego's form was impeccable throughout. Perhaps the one other surprise in the top grade was across in Pool A with the poor form of Milwaukee, the newly crowned MAAFL champions. One has to be careful not to draw too many conclusions though, as some teams travel to nationals with full squads whereas others do not. From all reports though, the standard this year was a notch above anything seen before in America and a good sign that the quality of footy in the US is steadily moving forward.

Division One final ladder

Pool A (wins/losses)

San Diego 3 0
Golden Gate 2 1
Milwaukee 1 2
Boston 0 3

Pool B (wins/losses)
Denver 3 0
New York 2 1
Orange County 1 2
North Carolina 0 3

Final: San Diego 33 defeated Denver 12

So, to the all-time winners list for Division One at the US Nationals. Amazingly, after 9 championships and with dozens of clubs across the States, there have still only been 3 winners at the top level, with the Lions joining Boston on two, and Denver out in front on 5.

1998 - Boston (defeated Santa Cruz - now Golden Gate)
1999 - Boston (defeated Santa Cruz - now Golden Gate)
2000 - Denver (defeated San Diego)
2001 - San Diego (defeated Denver)
2002 - Denver (defeated San Diego)
2003 - Denver (defeated Boston)
2004 - Denver (defeated New York)
2005 - Denver (defeated Milwaukee)
2006 - San Diego (defeated Denver)

Division Two

Minnesota were one of the big movers this year. Although we'll never know who would have won their cancelled game against Vancouver last year, the Freeze certainly walk away with bragging rights this season, and have come a long way in their short history. However they came up short in the final against Baltimore-Washington, a club that has hovered for some time between the middle ranks and the upper echelon of US teams. Disappointing was Arizona which had been steadily rising, and Dallas and the Canadian teams seemed down on expectations.

Division Two final ladder

Pool A (wins/losses)
Minnesota 3 0
Philadelphia 2 1
Vancouver 1 2
Arizona 0 3

Pool B (wins/losses)
Baltimore-Washington 3 0
Calgary 2 1
Seattle 1 2
Dallas 0 3

Final: Baltimore-Washington 69 defeated Minnesota 12

Division Three

This group is always a mixed bag, featuring teams with completely different goals and at different stages of development. Some are the B side of clubs, so often feature relative new players. Others are brand new clubs just starting to make their way in footy, and some are combined sides with a mixture of these features. And some players will be out to win at all costs and some will be happy to get through the games following some big nights out on the town in the host city. The two stand out teams this season were Baton Rouge, continuing their rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina last year, and the combine of home side Las Vegas and players that didn't squeeze into Orange County's A team. In the end it was Vegas/OC that won the day - perhaps the locals weren't as tempted by the night life, giving them an edge on day two of the Nationals?

Division Three final ladder

Pool A (wins/losses)
Baton Rouge 3 0
Florida 1 2
St Louisa/Denver B 1 2
San Diego B 1 2

Pool B (wins/losses)
Las Vegas / Orange County B 3 0
Kansas City 1 2
Golden Gate B 1 2
Altanta / Milwaukee B 1 2
Final: Las Vegas/Orange County B 47 defeated Baton Rouge 31

Women's

The women were well catered for again this year, following on from last season's inaugural championship, and it's encouraging to see four teams took part in 2006. The Pacific Coast Highway side was basically a "pick up" team of all-comers. Without suffering a loss Atlanta went back to back, and the emergence of this side along with Atlanta's metro league alleviates some of the concern over the dip in fortunes of their men's team. Let's hope we see the number of womens' teams competing rise again next year - which US club will be the next to step up and develop the game in the "other half" of the population?

Women's (wins/losses)
Atlanta 2 0
Pacifc Coast Hwy 2 0
Milwaukee 1 2
Arizona 0 3

Note: Atlanta and PCH skipped their final round match as it did not affect the outcome that they would face off in the final.

Final: Atlanta 3.10 (28) defeated PCH 0.0 (0)

Get all the results from the USFooty results page.


World Footy News
http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/20061009145547252