USAFL National Championships
Since 1997, the National Championships have been a large event featuring teams from the United States and Canada in four men's divisions and a women's division. The competition is organized and run by the United States Australian Football League.
The competition consists of four men's divisions and two women's divisions, each culminating in a Grand Final to decide the winner.
The first championships were held in Cincinnati in 1997, and they were won by the host Cincinnati Dockers. The Queen City would host the first three Nationals, with the 1998 edition welcoming 10 teams. A second division was created for the 1999 Nationals, with eight teams in the upper Division 1 and six in the lower Division 2 competition. Sixteen teams competed in one division in 2000. Divisional play returned for the 2001 championships, and a third division was added for 2002. A fourth division, mainly for reserves clubs and for first year teams, was added in 2007. A second women's division was added for 2015.
The 2015 edition saw the largest turnout in the history of the carnival; 45 teams representing 36 clubs across North America took part.
The Denver Bulldogs have been the most successful side at Nationals. Since 2000, the Bulldogs have appeared in ten Division 1 Grand Finals, winning eight, including four straight from 2002-2005. The San Diego Lions have appeared five times and have won two premierships. They are tied with the Boston Demons and Austin Crows for second most titles with two each.
Canadian clubs were first invited to the USAFL Championships in 2006. The first Canadian champions were the Vancouver Cougars in 2008. The Calgary Kangaroos appeared in three consecutive Division 2 Grand Finals from 2008-10, winning twice.
In 2005, the first USAFL Women's championships were held and were won by the Atlanta Lady Kookaburras. The Lady Kookas took home the first three premierships until 2008, when their 19-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Calgary Kookaburras. The Denver Lady Bulldogs are the reigning women's premiers, having won six consecutive titles since 2010. They won 20 consecutive games at Nationals from 2010 until 2015 when they lost to the Minnesota Freeze.
Since 2003, the men's Divisions One, Two, and Three have contained eight teams split into two groups of four teams. Each team plays the other three teams in their group once, playing one game on Saturday morning, another on Saturday afternoon, and a third on Sunday morning. The winners of each group advance to their division's grand final, which is held on Sunday afternoon. Division 4 has had several formats. In 2015, twelve teams were divided into four groups of three teams each. After a round robin on Saturday, the winners advance to the semi-finals on Sunday Morning to determine the Grand Finalists.
The Women's competition was divided into two divisions for the 2015 tournament. Division 1 contained five full teams, while Division 2 had four "combined" sides representing anywhere from two to five clubs each. Because of time and umpiring constraints, both women's divisions were played as a straight round-robin format with the most competition points being declared the champion. Head-to-head record, followed by percentage, is used to break ties.
The top two men's divisions and Women's Division 1 are played as 18-a-side, which each team permitted to dress a maximum of 24 players. All teams in Divisions One and Men's Division Two must be single entity squads; they may not combine with other teams. Men's Division Three is played as 16-a-side, with no restrictions on the number of players on the interchange bench. Division Four is played 14-a-side, and Women's Division two is played 12-a-side, again with no limit to the number of players dressed per game.
All Divisions are subject to the "50-50 Rule", which require at least half of the players on the field at any one time to be "nationals" of the country that their team represents. Players of other origin are considered "non-nationals". Prior to 2009, the players were designated "Australian" and "non-Australian", with at least half of the players on the field needing to be "non-Australian".
In addition to premiership medals, awards are also given to outstanding players in each division. The Paul Roos Medal, named after the former AFL player and coach and former US Revolution coach, is awarded to each division's Best and Fairest. The Coopers Medal goes to the most consistent player in each division, while the Geoff Cann Medal goes to each of the Grand Final MVP's. The field umpires of the Grand Final are also awarded medals, receiving the Hayden Kennedy medal.
The USAFL has, over the last couple of years, attempted to keep Nationals in the Midwestern part of the United States in order to keep travel costs down for teams on the East and West coasts and for all teams to be able to bring as many players as they can. At the league's 2015 annual general meeting, USAFL president Denis Ryan stated that he wanted to have the three regions, East, Central, and West, alternate hosting duties.
The 2016 USAFL Nationals are scheduled for October 15 and 16 in Sarasota, Florida.
|Year||Men's USAFL Div 1 Grand Final||Women's USAFL Div 1 Grand Final|
|Premier||G.B (Total)||Runner Up||G.B (Total)||Premier||G.B (Total)||Runner Up||G.B (Total)|
|1997||Cincinnati Dockers||Nashville Kangaroos|
|1998||Boston Demons||15.7 (97)||Golden Gate Roos||1.1 (7)|
|1999||Boston Demons||4.2 (26)||Golden Gate Roos||3.2 (20)|
|2000||Denver Bulldogs||3.4 (22)||San Diego Lions||3.2 (20)|
|2001||San Diego Lions||10.4 (64)||Boston Demons||2.5 (17)|
|2002||Denver Bulldogs||8.1 (49)||San Diego Lions||0.2 (2)|
|2003||Denver Bulldogs||8.5 (53)||Boston Demons||1.3 (9)|
|2004||Denver Bulldogs||2.6 (18)||New York Magpies||1.1 (7)|
|2005||Denver Bulldogs||4.8 (32)||Milwaukee Bombers||1.1 (7)||Atlanta Kookaburras||6.5 (41)||Florida Fusion||2.1 (13)|
|2006||San Diego Lions||4.9 (33)||Denver Bulldogs||2.0 (12)||Atlanta Kookaburras||3.10 (28)||Pacific Coast Highwayers||0.0 (0)|
|2007||Denver Bulldogs||3.3 (21)||San Diego Lions||2.3 (15)||Atlanta Kookaburras||7.7 (49)||Arizona Hawks||0.0 (0)|
|2008||Vancouver Cougars||4.4 (28)||Baltimore Washington Eagles||2.0 (12)||Calgary Kookaburras||4.3 (27)||Atlanta Kookaburras||3.4 (22)|
|2009||Denver Bulldogs||2.5 (17)||Seattle Grizzlies||2.2 (14)||Milwaukee Bombers||8.3 (51)||Calgary Kookaburras||1.5 (11)|
|2010||New York Magpies||4.4 (28)||Denver Bulldogs||1.1 (7)||Denver Bulldogs||3.1 (19)||Calgary/Montréal||2.6 (18)|
|2011||Denver Bulldogs||3.2 (20)||Calgary Kangaroos||0.5 (5)||Denver Bulldogs||3.7 (25)||New York/Montréal||0.1 (1)|
|2012||Vacated (see below)||Denver Bulldogs||3.4 (22)||Boston/Baltimore-Washington||0.0 (0)|
|2013||Austin Crows||4.2 (26)||Calgary Kangaroos||4.2 (25)||Denver Bulldogs||3.7 (25)||San Francisco Iron Maidens||0.0 (0)|
|2014||New York Magpies||2.4 (16)||Orange County Bombers||2.1 (13)||Denver Bulldogs||2.3 (15)||San Francisco/Portland/Arizona||0.4 (4)|
|2015||Austin Crows||4.4 (28)||Orange County Bombers||2.4 (16)||Denver Bulldogs||1st||New York Magpies||2nd|
Note: Dallas 3.4 (22) defeated New York 3.2 (20). On October 30, 2012, the USAFL vacated the Division I National Championship after it was discovered that Dallas used a player who was active with Central Districts of the SANFL and joined the team without satisfying league requirements.
List of USAFL National Championship Premiers (Men)
|Teams||Premiers||Runner Up||Total||Year(s) won||Year(s) lost|
|Denver Bulldogs||8||2||10||2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
2007, 2009, 2011
|San Diego Lions||2||3||5||2001, 2006||2000, 2002, 2007|
|Boston Demons||2||2||4||1998, 1999||2001, 2003|
|New York Magpies||2||2||4||2010, 2014||2004, 2012|
|Austin Crows||2||0||2||2013, 2015||—|
List of USAFL National Championship Premiers (Women)
|Teams||Premiers||Runner Up||Total||Year(s) won||Year(s) lost|
|Denver Bulldogs||6||0||6||2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
|Atlanta Kookaburras||3||1||4||2005, 2006, 2007||2008|