The 2023 edition of the Pony Platter at the Manotick Polo Club grounds proved to be the biggest of its kind since its inception in 2012.
With over 100 women and men participating from the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, the tournament was set to showcase the best of Australian Rules football on the east coast of Canada.
From it’s humble beginnings with only one game of co-ed footy played between Ottawa and Quebec where Ottawa were victorious in 2012, this time around the tournament would have 4 men’s teams, one from Ottawa, one from Nova Scotia, and two from Quebec and two women’s teams from Ottawa and Quebec each supplemented by players from Ontario, hailing from as far as Hamilton.
The opening game, pitting the two favourites against each other, the Ottawa Swans and the Quebec 1st team, proved there was very little between the two sides with Quebec winning the game by a margin of 6 points 1.1 to 0.1.
The following game between the Nova Scotia Lions and the Quebec 2nd team showed that The Lions were in Ottawa on a mission to prove themselves in their second visit to Ottawa and the Pony Platter. Their silky skills and precise movement of the ball proved too good and they ran out easy winners with a score line of 39 (6.3) to 14(2.2).
The two Quebec sides played next with the Quebec 1st team continuing their strong performance overcoming the second team by 29 points 5.2 to 0.3.
The surprise of the day came from the game that followed where the highly favoured home side, the Ottawa Swans, were up against The Lions. The Swans squandered chances to put the game out of reach and the Lions were victorious by a point in a very close affair with a final score of 14 (2.2) to 13(2.1).
The women’s game followed with four 10-minute quarters where the Ottawa Swans women’s side came up against the Quebec Saints. A game that has always proven to be a very close match up was no different this year. With the game tied at three quarter time it appeared there would be very little again to separate the sides, but three quick goals by the Swans early in the last quarter proved too much for the Saints and the Swans ran out eventual winners with a score of 33 (5.3) to 22 (3.4) and reclaimed the Pony back from the Saints.
After the excitement of the women’s game the men were back on with what would ultimately be the Pony Platter deciding game between The Quebec 1st side and the Nova Scotia Lions. After a few minutes were the Lions held their own, the class and experience of Quebec proved too much for the Lions as they were overrun and could not stop the flow of goals with no answer to their strong defence, the final score was 46(6.10) to 0.
The last game of the day, the Ottawa Swans were determined to improve on their performances of the first two games and were up against the Quebec 2nd Team. For the first time, the Swans showed glimpses of what was a trademark of their premiership seasons moving the ball with ease across the field and stifling the opposition and locking the ball for most of the game in the opposition’s defensive 50. The Swans wrapped up their day with a win and a final score line of 46 (7.4) to 12 (2.0).
With 3 wins and 0 loses the Quebec 1sts won back the Pony Platter after it spent the winter in Ottawa. The Nova Scotia Lions finished second with 2 wins and 1 loss, followed by the Swans in third with 1 win and 2 losses and the Quebec 2nds finishing last.
The Ottawa Swans would like to thank AFL Quebec and AFL Nova Scotia for helping make the Pony Platter the huge success it was in 2023, and AFL Canada for supporting the event. The Swans are looking forward to hosting the event again next year and will try and win back the Platter and retaining the Pony.
For more information about the event or the Ottawa Swans Australian Rules Football Club please email firstname.lastname@example.org.