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Sydney University students in team crowned Quidditch world champions

Cameron Caccamo reports on a student sporting triumph

Two University of Sydney students have been crowned Quidditch world champions overnight in Frankfurt as the Australian national team defeated runners-up USA in a nail-biting grand final that saw the American side’s three-tournament winning streak spectacularly broken. 

Luke Derrick and Natalie Astalosh, two Sydney University students and members of Australian side, the Dropbears, both play the position of beater and are captains of the University’s flagship team, the Unspeakables. Derrick was also a part of the Dropbears team in 2014 and has recently captained the NSW Quidditch side.

We’re all walking around having to remind each other that we actually did it, we’re the world champions!” said Astalosh, who added she was “still in shock” from the win.

Australia’s Dameon Osborn sealed the miraculous underdog win with a snitch catch after more than 20 minutes of game time, a move worth 30 points, ending the match 150*-130.

Australia was given a tough draw after being seeded fifth overall after the group stages, their run to the final seeing them play European champions France in the quarter finals and top-seeded Canada semis. Both were close games, with Australia only winning by catching the snitch.

Captains Natalie Astalosh (L) and Luke Derrick
Captains Natalie Astalosh (L) and Luke Derrick

The final, played 3am Monday Sydney time and livestreamed across the world, saw some of the most aggressive play seen at the tournament.

Despite the relatively short game time, 25 goals were scored between both teams, leaving them neck and neck. Australia were able to keep pace with the experienced Americans as neither team looked capable of securing enough of a lead for a snitch catch not to matter.

The US had never been beaten before in an international match, and there we were, snitch on pitch and still in range and in with a real chance,” said Astalosh.

The sport of Quidditch, adapted heavily from the Harry Potter universe, has steadily grown since the first World Cup in 2012. Over 20 teams from South Korea to Brazil, hailing from almost every continent, competed in the tournament this year.

For Astalosh, international representation in an amateur sport was an unparalleled opportunity: “I never thought I’d represent Australia in anything, let alone a sport I signed up for at O-week on a whim, so being here in Germany is so ridiculous,” she said.

Astalosh and Derrick were among the first crop of players to join the sport from USyd, starting in 2012. They were also part of the USyd team that played in an international tournament in South Carolina in 2014, the only Australian team to have done so.

The Quidditch program at USyd has strengthened considerably in recent years, now boasting two competition teams and up to 40 students actively competing in tournaments. With Australia rising to the top internationally, Derrick and Astalosh have set their sights on Sydney doing the same on the domestic scene.

The USyd Quidditch teams train in Victoria Park on Thursdays and Fridays from 2-5pm. They welcome all attendees.