The Tagger: Issued May, 1997
The Tagger was Oztag’s official regular newsletter from 1996-2000, keeping the community up-to-date with all things Oztag.
The May, 1997 issue highlighted a ‘New Era in Oztag’, detailing the many changes within Australian Oztag – particularly Junior Oztag – while celebrating the ever-evolving Cups and Tournaments, nationwide.
According to The Tagger, 1997 saw Junior Oztag played in nine areas – Cronulla, Riverwood, Rockdale, Byron Bay, South Tweed, Liverpool, Wollongong, Canberra and Mullumbimby.
Written by Robyn Mullane, the column ‘Rob’s corner’ encouraged the launch and development of junior competitions in more areas.
Over the past 23 years, Junior Oztag has experienced an extraordinary growth in numbers with more than 60 areas now running large junior competitions across various nights and venues.
Having been associated with Oztag since 1995, Robyn Mullane has experienced the development of Oztag, but particularly juniors, firsthand.
“I ran my first comp for Cronulla juniors in 1996 after Perry asked me if I thought kids would like Oztag,” Mullane said.
“It was just obvious. While I played seniors, the kids would grab the spare tags and play against each other in the corridors between fields,” she said.
With such a demand, came many sacrifices and learning curves to ensure players kept coming back each season.
“I learnt so much along the way because every area is different,” Mullane said.
“Networking in the community played a huge part. Getting the right person to run it was absolutely critical,” she said.
From coordinating 55 teams in 1996 to a groundbreaking 707 in 2020, Mullane has had her hands full with Sutherland Shire Junior Oztag, yet has loved being part of the game’s journey.
“It’s been awesome. If I have to advocate for anything, I advocate for the grassroots more than the rep teams. I don’t think you can have a good rep team without a good domestic comp,” Mullane said.
“I have a great team of workers who do a lot of the hard yards each week. I’m just really proud of them and what we’ve achieved together,” she said.
Looking back at ‘The Tagger’, Oztag Founder, Perry Haddock shared how pleased he is with the game’s growth since 1997.
“I was happy to just run some comps at Cronulla and St. George in the beginning,” Haddock said.
“But some people who played in Cronulla or St. George lived elsewhere and wanted to start a competition in their local area,” he said.
With other sports headed in different directions, Haddock said there was an opportunity to cater for the wider demographic.
“Oztag has grown so quickly because it’s suited to all body types and fitness levels,” he said.
“It’s amazing to think how much it has grown.”
The Tagger involved various columns from Merchandising, New Logo Competitions, Referees, School Starter Kits, Fundraising by Central Coast, Tamworth’s Annual Knockout, the Canberra Cup and the Australian National Championships.
The 1997 Australian National Championships was held on the Gold Coast and included only four divisions: Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Mixed Open and Over 30’s.
Due to such growth, Australian Oztag now welcome 15 divisions to the current Senior Australian Championships, with an extra 18 divisions attending the annual Junior tournament.
Current Senior Australian Championships divisions:
- Women’s 20s
- Women’s Open
- Women’s 30s
- Women’s 40s
- Mixed 20s
- Mixed Open
- Senior Mixed
- Men’s 20s
- Men’s Open
- Men’s 30s
- Men’s 40s
- Men’s 45s
- Men’s 50s
- Men’s 55s
- Men’s 60s
The game’s history is one deserving of recognition and will be drawn on in the coming months.
As Oztag continues to prosper on various fronts, stay up to date and subscribe to our current online Australian Oztag Newsletter HERE.