Contributed by: Troy Thompson Saturday, October 16 2021 @ 06:30 am ACDT
The USAFL National Championships tournament is back this weekend in Austin, Texas (October 15-17) at the Onion Creek Soccer Fields.after the 2020 nationals in California had to be cancelled due to Covid.
Almost all footy in 2020 and a good deal of 2021 could not take place across the US. But in recent months footy has resumed in most cities. But the shadow of Covid still hangs over the Nationals. Not all the usual teams have been an able to field a side this year in Austin. Medical facilities in Texas are still being overwhelmed by Covid cases and this has lead to the concern that the possibility of not being able to get medical treatment should players be seriously injured. All attendees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or a negative PCR test.
Add to this the stance of the Texas state bringing in deploarable new laws surrounding abortions and those involved with the abortions has seen a number of womens teams and others individuals in solidarity boycotting this year's event.
In total there will be 28 mens (4 divisions) and five women's teams competing, but this includes a number of teams combined from cities without the numbers to make a full squad on their own.
The Austin Crows are hosting the tournament in their home city and at the red hot favourites to take out the Division one title again (having won it 5 out of the last seven occasions). Speculation has been bubbling in the background about the appearance of one particular player pulling on the Austin Crows jumper at the Nationals and that is Mason Cox the Collingwood forward/ruck.
This has come about because Cox played for the Crows just a few weekends ago in Denver against the Seattle Grizzlies. Cox is currently out of contract with the Collingwood football club. He has not had any other club offer to sign him up during the AFL's free agency period. Last week Hawthorn signed Max Lynch from Collingwood during the trade period (backup ruckman) and his departure almost confirms that Cox will be re signed for the 2022 season at Collingwood. The possibility still remains that he may be delisted and in that case would then look to be picked up with another team in the pre season draft.
So it seems that Cox is in Austin for the US Nationals and not signed to an AFL club, but will only be there to support from the sidelines his brothers Nolan who plays for the Austin Crows and Austin who plays for the Seattle Grizzlies.
At the 2019 US Nationals, Cox was also there and featured as water boy for a number of games but even that job is off his radar this year as due to Covid there will be no water carriers on field.
USAFL Media Manager Brian Barrish confirmed that due to USAFL rules Cox would not be allowed to compete at the US Nationals as he is an AFL listed player.
Barrish himself will have a slightly different role this year where he will lead the live commentary of matches at the grounds for the first time. Due to the Covid restrictions in Australia Rod Grljusich, who had previously held this role for many years is unable to attend.
Although Cox cannot play there will be some former AFL players competing during the nationals tournament. Tom Bugg (GWS and Melbourne) will be playing for the Los Angeles Dragons and Jeremy Humm (West Coast Eagles and Richmond) for the Boston Demons.
The Day 1 Match Schedule is as follows
|Time||Cooper's||Field 2||Field 3||Field 4|
DC vs Sacramento[*4]
Seattle vs Baltimore[*12]
Houston vs Boston[*13]
San Francisco vs DC[*16]
Columbus vs Chicago[*19]
DC vs Dallas[*20]
Austin vs Arizona[*24]
Denver vs Oklahoma[*29]
Houston vs Baltimore[*30]
Seattle vs Boston[*32]