by Victor Tan
Sunday, April 23 marked the beginning of the inaugural quidditch season in South Australia. The new league has just a fraction of the teams, experience, and player numbers from the eastern states, but nonetheless South Australian teams look forward to to this with enthusiasm and anticipation. For the past four years, former Adelaide Augureys and Flinders University president and current President of the South Australian Quidditch Association Denni Mackay has worked tirelessly to build from the ground up what is now a fledgeling league with three teams that competed this past weekend.
The Adelaide Augureys
The Adelaide Augureys start the season as the largest, most experienced team, having played formal matches for the past two years at QUAFL. In addition to having the largest starting lineup, the Augureys have recruited impressively in the off season, boosting their playlist immensely. Most notably, the Augureys added keeper Mike Slattery, who tore it up at QUAFL 2016 for the SA Bunyips; the loss of Rebecca Rowland and Adam Higgs to Flinders University are therefore likely to be covered. Belgian quidditch international player Cindy Callens also adds immeasurable experience to the club as coach, having arrived in the third quarter of 2016.
All in all, the Augureys should be considered very short–priced favourites to run away with the 2017 premiership and put on a few demolition shows along the way.
The newest club in South Australia enters 2017 with the smallest playing list. Chaser Matt Brummelhuis was a beast for the SA Bunyips at 2016 QUAFL and racked up impressive performances at the Victorian Fantasy and Sunshine Coast Fantasy tournaments. The Gargoyles also look to be boosted by the addition of hardworking utility player Tessa Jensen, who has shown her commitment to the sport by single–handedly promoting it at a football–dominated University of Adelaide and hard nut Brodie McGee, one of the original founders of quidditch in South Australia.
However, the Gargoyles have also been dealt some crippling blows to their playlist, with chaser/seekers William Gow and Dania Ruminski-Smith on the long-term injury list with unfortunate injuries sustained in the off season, speedster Ezra Juanta in doubt for the beginning for the season, and key beater Ethan Francis away travelling.
The Gargoyles will be happy to play competitively, although every gargoyle does harbour aspirations of greater things to come.
Flinders University Fantastic Beasts
The single-dimensional drive attack that was eviscerated by the Augureys in the inaugural exhibition match will be boosted by the valuable QUAFL experience workhorse Joel Stanley and Gargoyles recruit Min Hedger-Smith will bring to the lineup. Stanley made several crisp passes to receiving chasers at QUAFL, which resulted in goals against the Macarthur Weasleys and QUT Lycans, in addition to surprising everybody by flattening several players much larger in both frame and reputation than himself. Hedger-Smith adds versatility and strength to the defense. The team is boosted by Perth Phoenixes utility player Elissa Bello, who has shown devastating capability with both sorts of ball. In the pre-season exhibition matches at Adelaide Oz Comic-Con, coach Kirsty Lucas, who returns as a player for the 2017 season, has shown that she has lost none of the speed that she previously had while recovering from ACL surgery. If the tactical knowledge that she displayed during her previous two QUAFL outings as a coach translates to on-field intelligence, then Lucas will be difficult to contain.
Former chasers Higgs and Rowland also join the Flinders University lineup from the Adelaide Augureys, bringing with them tactical knowledge and previous playing experience.
In addition to the experience gained at QUAFL 2016 and the gain of players from other SA clubs, Flinders have also recruited strongly, having a prominent presence at O-week.
All in all, the Flinders Beasts should be the most improved team in South Australia and could be the most improved team in the country. Right now, the 230*-70 loss to the Adelaide Augureys in July 2016 looks like a very distant memory.
Editor’s Note: This article previously stated that Elissa Bello played for the Glenelg Garboyles. Bello plays for the Flinders University Fantastic Beasts. The article has been updated to reflect this change.