Part I: Mud. Glorious Mud. Glorious Metal. Glorious Juggers.
The Australian DropBears joined a contingent of international Juggers as they descended upon Orebro (Sweden) for a Metal Festival and Jugger tournament. At the camp ground, new players were introduced and old players caught up. Adjacent to the camping grounds was a waterpark, which was pretty popular for its warming spa pools, hot saunas, water slides and other opportunities for silliness. Games of graveyard were played on a vacant hillside and, when the night’s chill drove everyone back to the camping areas, there was drinking, chatting and huddling for warmth.
Overcast weather and a very muddy trek to get to the field couldn’t stop the Irish and Australians from putting on a demonstration game the second day and heading out to the festival to watch bands, stomp in the mud or socialise in the gigantic beer tent that evening. It was, however, a very cold night. Upon getting back to the campgrounds, hot showers were on the top of everyone's agenda to warm up and dispel the mud. One stubborn Irish Icicle even required an intervention by Seamus, Haz, and Edwin, along with aid from Manu and his fur pelts, to deal with a mild case of hypothermia.
Sunday morning saw a bit more sun as sleeping bags and tents were packed and people headed north to find their little lakeside village for more Jugger. The tournament draw placed the DropBears, both the Irish teams, the local Swedish team and one german team in the same pool. Unfortunately the term “pool” was a little too accurate and a bucket was even used to remove some of the water from the field. Unsurprisingly, the field quickly turned into a large swathe of thick mud which made for some interesting play. Chains had to hop step as they span around and enforcers would surf the mud into the initial clash in the centre.
The DropBears successfully faced down Gallowglass(Ireland), Järnfalkar(Sweden) and the Flying Juggmen (Germany) before failing to clip the wings of the Wild Geese(Ireland) and ending the group stage as second within the pool. The Australians then got a second crack at Tackle Tiger(Germany), who had beaten the Redbacks the previous year at the World Championships but were to fall under the weight of the DropBears. The win saw the DropBears face off against the formidable Zonenkinder (Germany) on the lovely dry field with the winners of this match going on to the final. This was a hard fought yet beautiful match. The DropBears took an early lead but the Zonies slowly clawed their way back to make it a neck and neck battle in the second half. Near the end, with teams tied and some long points played, the referees took the opportunity to announce that a golden jugg would be played if the stone count reached zero without either team scoring. However, the Zonies managed to grab a point and put it upon the DropBears to rally if they were to force a golden jugg. The stones were counting down, the Irish were hollering support, and the Aussies played valiantly but were not able to turn the final few stones into a point. The Zonies went on to the final while the Aussies faced off against the Irish, once again in the mud, to determine third and fourth place.
The DropBears came away from the tournament with fourth place, bellies full of BBQ (with samples of elk/moose on the menu), good memories and shoes that were more mud than shoe. Sincere thanks are owed Marcel and Manu for playing, and Ruben for organising.
DropBears Part II: Mile High
The DropBears (with a partial change of line up) then made their way over to America to compete in an International Tournament hosted by Colorado Jugger League. Arriving early to get a feel for playing Jugger at a higher altitude, the Aussies got first pick of space to drop sleeping bags. Training events, games nights and a visit to another water park all happened in the lead up to the tournament. The Aussies also received a rather large order of gear from the Foam Forge, which looked spectacular in the green and gold cloth covers and felt even better in the hands.
The tournament was run over two days. The first day saw the DropBears dominate their group against Homebrew White(Arizona), Riot(Berkley) and Corvus(Colorado) to be placed second seed behind the Wild Geese from Ireland. Group brackets on the second day saw the DroBears play Reapers(Denver) and Riot again. Not to be outdone by the American teams signalling readiness for a point with individual calls (Caw! Reapers! Good luck, have fun!), the DropBears made a call of their own – Not the face! After winning their group matches, the Aussies played a ‘first to three’ game against Erosion(Wyoming) to determine who would go straight to the semi-finals and who would have to battle it out in the quarter finals. The DropBears played their A-team line up and won three points in a row. A full match was then played when Erosion qualified for the semis. The DropBears prevailed again and made it to the finals undefeated to challenge the Wild Geese. Teams greeted each other with a chicken dance and then made their way to opposing sides of the field. By the end of 300 stones, the Dropbears had managed to score six points but the Wild Geese scored ten to take out first place.
The 1v1 finals were played after the team tournament as the rain started to fall. Aussies put on a good show in the finals for Sword&Board, Dual Shorts, Longsword, Stab and the Open category. Clone won multiple first places. As we packed up in the increasingly heavy rain and drank the ‘Blood of Heroes’ beetroot beer from Riot, the number of Juggers wearing green and gold DropBears jerseys outnumbered the actual DropBears and looked fantastic. We all then headed to the pub for the awards ceremony, where medallions and plaques for 1st, 2nd and 3rd were handed out.
Thank you to Yoda for mercing for us and a massive shout out to everyone who came to the tournaments, socialised, played games and trained with us. A big “you’re awesome” to those who hosted Juggers in their homes and helped us get around the city. Special thanks to Miguel, Doug and Jack for their work organising this fantastic event.
While in the USA, we also had Fiend running some Chain blocking training for the Berkley Juggers when he passed through California and a couple of Aussies on a podcast discussing Jugger in Denver. You can listen to Fiend and Jamesy chatting with Irish and Americans here:www.schwartzandmerc.com/?post_type=podcast. There is also a butt ton of video footage from the tournament on youtube: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGxLW8UnU...bn3qR0_pnStuiD22q5oS