AUSTRALIA CLAIMS CHAMPION NATION STATUS AT WORLD CUP

first_imgMen’s 35 Years   Australia 3 def South Africa 2 Men’s 40 Years   Australia 12 def Barbarians 1 Touch Football Australia’s World Cup contingent has returned home triumphant after retaining the champion nation crown at the sixth Federation of International Touch (FIT) World Cup played at the Daniel Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch South Africa from 17-21 January 2007.The seven Australian World Cup teams performed creditably winning Gold in five out of seven divisions and Silver in the remaining two divisions.The Australians retained their World Champion status in the face of a tremendous challenge from 15 Nations, including archrivals New Zealand and the vastly improved host nation South Africa who finished third in the overall standings in the champion nation race. Australia is the only nation to field teams in every division offered at every World Cup since the event was first contested on the Gold Coast in 1988.Australia now has an outstanding record in World Cup history having lost only 5 out of 42 divisional finals in twenty-years of World Cup competition.The Australian Women’s Open Team, arguably Australia’s most successful Women’s sporting team in any code at World Cup level, led Australia’s charge with a crushing 9-3 demolition of New Zealand in the final.The Australian Women’s Team now proudly boasts an incredible 54 game winning streak at World Cup level spanning a twenty-year period.The Women’s team has never suffered defeat in World Cup competition and has completed a remarkable run of sustained excellence over six pristine campaigns at this level.Sisters Louise and Claire Winchester, twins Amanda and Kristy Judd, and Kelly Woods and Rachel Holden starred for the Aussies in a stellar team performance in the final that underlined the dominance and skill level of the Women’s game in Australia.The Aussie Women scored three Touchdowns in the opening three minutes of the Final to totally demoralize the Kiwis and there was no way back with a fit, hungry, cohesive, and well prepared Australian side determined to see four time World Cup veterans Captain Sharyn Williams, Vice Captain Melissa Pitfield, and the Judd twins out of World Cup competition on the best possible note.Coach Kerry Norman and Assistant Coach Dean Russell’s hard work and thorough preparation was reflected in outstanding form from all members of the 16-player squad who each played their part in a deserved triumph.The Australian Men’s Open Team, who have won every World Cup final contested, had to pull out all stops against a highly skilled, youthful, and agile New Zealand combination. The ‘Touch Blacks’ drew 5-5 with the Australians in their round clash earlier in the tournament and pushed the World champion Australians all the way in the decider. Australia rode home off the back of some stunning footwork from the mercurial Drumayne Dayberg-Muir who was later crowned Most Valuable Player of the World Cup after engineering Australia’s 8-5 victory, gift-wrapping the clincher for Australian Vice Captain Jason Stanton.The game ebbed and flowed after Australia again got out to an early lead like they did in the round game against the Kiwis, only to be reeled in by a fast finishing Kiwi team who played with tremendous heart, spirit, and fast feet that sonic the hedgehog would die for.The Aussies were not short of heroes themselves with Joel Willoughby, Jamie Stowe, Phil Gyemore, and Captain Gavin Shuker providing the framework for the Australian victory.Special mention must be made of defensive king Ash Farrow, who should be used instead of the Great Wall of China to ‘keep the rabbits out’. Sunshine was not even getting through on his watch.Coaches Tony Trad and Peter Robinson can be well pleased with the resilience shown by the Australian boys who remained composed and found a way to win under enormous pressure.New Zealand narrowly defeated Australia 6-4 in their “pet” division of Mixed Open after an absorbing battle. Australia won the last World Cup in the Mixed Open division in 2003 with a side containing a number of players with exceptional footwork including Drumayne Dayberg Muir and current NRL Super star Benji Marshall, but could not resist the challenge from a young New Zealand team big on combination, experience, and tried and tested skills in the Mixed genre of the game.Dean Williams, who possesses one of the most lethal pair of feet in the game, was simply exceptional for New Zealand and despite his dominant display Australia was not short of effort and big game performers who left it all out on the field for their Country as they had promised to do in an emotional pre-game team meeting.Ben Mc Cullen, Brad Holden, Matt Tope, and Ben and Steve Roberts all stepped up to the plate whilst Co-Captain Mary Steele, Belinda Gretch, and Rebecca Tavo all stood firm in both attack and defence.Co-Captain Tony Eltakchi gave his all and it was disappointing loss to end a marvellous career at World Cup Open level for Australia’s ‘Mr. Mixed’. Eltakchi has been a monument to the game at this level and can stand proudly amongst the very best and most committed players to pull on the green and gold. In the wake of Eltakchi’s loss, and the dominance of New Zealand, Australia will need to keep working on ways to broaden and improve playing skills, knowledge, and experiences unique to the Mixed game for future National players to ensure that the Mixed division thrives in this Country and at International level.Coach Gary Madders can be pleased that the gap between the two nations has narrowed since the 2005 All Nations Championships and that there are better times ahead for this division in the future. The Kiwis claimed their second title of the tournament in the Mixed 30 Years division with a nail biting 8-7 triumph over Australia.The kiwis headlined by “Mr. Touch” Peter Walters were expected to dominate this division.Their 4-1 defeat of Australia in the round game between the two heavyweights of International Touch Football, suggested it would be hard going for an Aussie team full of rookie Mixed players at this level.To coaching staff Wayne Grant and John Collin’s credit, some big deficiencies were turned around in a short space of time and a very determined, gutsy, and skilled Australian Mixed 30s team narrowly went down 8-7 to the Kiwis.The Aussies covered themselves in glory in an outstanding effort and, although not quite achieving their “World Champion” goal, the Aussie camp could not have been any prouder of the fight shown by the 30s Mixed team.Co-Captains Clynton Wastell and Cathy Ring were standouts, whilst Amanda Bourne, Alan Watts, and Manu Wakely impressed with big match performances in the Grand final.Australia collected the Men’s 30 Years division Gold Medal in a dominant 13-2 display over Samoa, having bulldozed through the competition like a front rower 1 metre out from the tryline all week.The 30s Men were cohesive and professional all tournament with Captain Chris Benfield, Adam Fahim, Ben Smith, and Wayne Gleeson producing the goods all week.The Men’s 35s division claimed a close 3-2 verdict over host nation South Africa with Captain Dave Raper and Chris Ferguson leading the way.Coach Michael Mc Donald kept heads steady and the Australians’ withstood a hometown blood and thunder effort from the Springboks to wrap up the division for Australia.Australia capped off their tournament with a 12-1 victory against a Barbarians line-up in the Men’s 40s division.Ash Taylor nabbed 4 touchdowns and Peter Wandl a hat trick in a comprehensive performance by the Aussie team who all scored touchdowns during the tournament.The game against the Barbarians was a fitting way for many of Australia’s pioneers of the game at Representative level to wave good bye to the sport at International level.Coach Dennis Coffey and Assistant Coach John Singh can be well pleased that their team’s thorough preparation resulted in such an outstanding performance.After being presented with the World Cup at the Daniel Craven Stadium, the Australian Teams headed back to their Pretoria Hotel base in Stellenbosch for a Team function.Team Awards were presented in every division, touring, coaching, medical, administration, and support staff were acknowledged, and a few quite ales were consumed by all, not to mention the belting out of a few impromptu songs from the Aussie Open Men’s team.The “We don’t need another Farrow” (to the tune of Tina Turner’s ‘We don’t need another Hero’) was amongst the crowd’s favourites.Australia’s victorious Men’s Open Coach, Tony Trad made the point that the National Anthem was not played once during Australia’s golden finals run at the fields, so appropriately all Aussie Team members rose to their feet to deliver a heartfelt, loud, off-key, but supremely proud rendition of “Advance Australia Fair” to put the finishing touches on Australia’s World Cup defence celebrations.All the Aussies were singing, even Melissa Pitfield who has had a well publicized Milli Vanilli mime act going for 12 years, but even the Aussie Vice Captain relaxed her own rule and was just another off-key but fantastically proud Aussie singing her heart out – Australian Idol be very afraid!All Australian Team members then attended the official World Cup function at nearby Spier and enjoyed traditional South African food, drink, and entertainment whilst mingling and swapping uniforms with touch playing colleagues from around the World.Most Valuable Players were awarded across all divisions, Scotland was officially announced as the 2011 host nation for the seventh FIT World Cup, and Australia’s Captains congregated on stage to accept the World Cup that enjoyed a prominent spot on the Qantas flight home on Monday/Tuesday.Aussie players headed back to the Pretoria Hotel where they enjoyed their own private celebrations in the club downstairs, many to the wee hours of the morning – revelling in their newly acquired World Champion status.Dancefloor stars included Stevie “Devo” Roberts,Rebecca Tavo, Teena Mac Ilveen, the Winchester sisters, dark horse Kelly Mc Genity, Rach Holden, and Benny Roberts.The ‘star’ performer was an Aussie Men’s 30s Men’s player whose mimed “Skipping Rope” routine lasted 20 minutes and had the crowd throwing coinage rand at his feet – not sure if it was for more moves or to pay him off to make him stop!After breakfast Monday morning, the tour party went their separate ways, some keen to get started on Game Park adventures, others keen for the beaches and bright lights of Sun City, and some even off to dive with Great White Sharks.The rest of us set off for home with a head and heart full of memories of a land, a people, and an experience that will not be easily erased by time.Knowing that the World Cup trophy that we had all given up so much for was once again firmly in Aussie clutches meant mission accomplished for Australia’s mighty World Cup contingent of players, coaches, managers, administrators, and supporters both at home and abroad who each played their part in Australia’s triumph.Even a plane delay could not wipe the smiles off our faces, in fact Kelly Woods added to this with her insightful comment,“That flight from South Africa flew on the way back.”We were all pleased Wood duck cleared up the mode of transport issue for us, just in case we were wondering after almost 24 hours of traveling..The Qantas flight home was great with Individualized Premier movies and console games at our disposal and the use of an air phone to call the ground or anyone else on board.Super coach Kerry Norman wanted to test out the seat-to-seat phone communication.I was pretty tired but saw an incoming call on my system and picked up the phone.“Hello”“Karls it’s Kez, how cool is this, it works.” Kerry enthused.Sleepy and stunned I looked one seat away to see Kerry talking to me like some walkie-talkie bandit,“That’s great Kez, I can see that, good to know.”“Ok roger, over and out” Kerry said.I just shook my head and drifted off to sleep smiling at another great memory of a fantastic time abroad shared with so many great people in our sport.As the South Africans say,Totsiens (goodbye) Salakahle, (stay well) and Hambakahle (go well). Results of Federation of International Touch World Cup Finals 2007Open Women’s    Australia 9 def New Zealand 3Open Men’s          Australia 8 def New Zealand 5Open Mixed          New Zealand 6 def Australia 4Mixed 30 Years    New Zealand 8 def Australia 7Men’s 30 Years    Australia 13 def Samoa 2last_img

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