Ultimate has been played at AUC/AUG level for 10 years, and everything has been hunky dory for that time, getting plenty of participants and whatnot. Problem is, Brendan Nelson's little VSU bill introduced a couple of years back gave many university student unions/guilds/associations a bit of a kick in the balls that they really didn't need. That, along with the 25% HECS fee hike he also introduced alienated an entire generation of students meaning he will NEVER be elected Prime Minister, but that's a story for another day.
The sudden cut in income for many uni student bodies meant that Australian University Sport, funded by members fees, also got dealt a heavy blow and were forced to make changes. First off, after participation at 2006 AUG was ridiculously low (ultimate had 17 teams - only other sports that had more than 10 teams were men's basketball and women's netball), they changed the eligibility rules for players, and also eliminated the need to qualify for AUG through regional events.
In 2007, Latrobe City Council were contractually set to host SUG. They had paid a five figure sum to host it in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Trouble is, SUG wasn't SUG any more. Instead, AUS created the Latrobe City Challenge to replace SUG. The removal of the qualification requirement meant that Tasmanian and South Australian unis pretty much had no reason to attend, so they didn't. For other sports it wasn't perceived as much of an issue.
However for the five Victorian ultimate clubs, this was an issue. They were quite reluctant to pay a few hundred dollars to play against teams they play against at league. Deakin's student body required a payment of over $300! After a bit of a debacle, the ultimate comp was abandoned.
This brought about a discussion among uni types about whether uni ultimate has outgrown Uni Games. Stories were shared about how much student bodies were charging and what requirements they had - UQ students had to stay at the squad accommodation in order to compete, despite living 45min away, while Ballarat students had the option of organising their own transport and accommodation if they wanted to.
The entry fees for the tournament was $145 per player. Ultimate players are quite spoiled with tournament costs because we have very few (if any) overheads - no equipment, officials or umpires needed - and ultimate tournaments typically supplied lunches every day, while AUG didn't. Cue the "it's too expensive" moaning. Trouble is, most of the cost problems lie with each individual uni, and what conditions of competing they place on their students.
Is it worth it?
What AUS does better than us
Fields - Ask anyone who played NUFL 2 and AUG this year and ask them which tournament had the better fields. AUS has the luxury of being able to source privately owned fields ultimate can only dream of.
Sports medicine - Outside Nationals, very few tournaments will have sports medicine professionals on hand. AUG has a qualified medic, plus usually a couple of volunteers on standby, complete will full first aid kit and ice packs.
Public transport - Getting around cities for tournaments can be a bit of a gamble. AUG has dedicated buses for competitors included in the cost that deliver you right to the fields.
Volunteers - Everything is already sorted for you. Non-playing TDs and volunteers makes a huge difference.
Attraction - AUG is a highly desirable event. You can be assured that every team that can physically and financially get there is going to have the best team available.
What we do better than AUS
Seeding and draws - The format of the draw at 2007 AUG was appalling. Two pools of 10, with everyone playing each other once, before quarters/semis/placings. The seedings were based on 2006 results, with no consideration given to how good teams were in 07 compared to 06 (eg: UNSW, QUT). This resulted in one pool being a higher standard than the other, resulting in a lot of sadface action late in the week. However that looks like being resolved this year.
Food - Other tournaments include lunch in the fee, AUG doesn't.
What could go either way
Accreditation procedures - to ensure the same people on the field are the same people you said were going to be there, AUS requires an accreditation plus photo ID to be presented before EVERY game you play. Very thorough system but very annoying.
Social program - all a matter of personal preference, really.
I think the $145 is well worth it, considering we get to play 10-12 games over five days. Think about the track & field, taekwondo, kendo and swimming athletes who pay the same amount for one afternoon of competition!
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