University of Queensland delivered a flawless performance throughout 2023 Oceania & Australian Club Championships, sealing their first-ever title in the continental competition and subsequently qualifying for the 2023 IHF Men’s Super Globe in Saudi Arabia.
Eight teams entered the men’s competition at the 2023 Oceania & Australian Club Championship, being divided into two groups of four teams each, with the top two sides in each group progressing to the semi-finals.
Big favourites, Sydney Uni, who won the title eight times, had an exciting preliminary round, dominating their opponents and earning three wins, with a huge goal difference, +51, after a 33:24 win over UNSW HC, a 27:18 win over Canberra HC and a 42:9 win over UniSA.
They were joined in the semi-finals by Canberra HC, who finished second in the group, but also by Saint Kilda HC and the University of Queensland HC, who finished on the top two places in the other group, with Saint Kilda taking a 22:16 win over the University of Queensland.
However, University of Queensland produced one of the biggest surprises in the history of the Oceania & Australian Club Championships, taking a 28:27 win over Sydney Uni, a shocking upset spearheaded by Pierre Cailler and Ignacio Oleaga Ballester, who combined for 14 goals.
In the other semi-final, Saint Kilda HC registered a clear win over Canberra HC (39:15), becoming the de-facto favourites after their clear win in the preliminary round against their opponents in the final.
But as handball is full of surprises, the University of Queensland bounced back after a shaky start and delivered another huge upset, taking a 31:25 win, on the back of another excellent game from Ignacio Oleaga Ballester, who was named the MVP of the competition, after delivering 14 goals in the match.
Earlier on Sunday, the reigning champions and big favourites, Sydney Uni, secured the bronze medal by defeating hosts Canberra HC (23:17), with a consolation prize after missing out on their objective.
The University of Queensland will now represent Oceania at the IHF Men’s Super Globe, becoming only the third Australian team in history to have this privilege, after Sydney Uni and Southern Stars.
In the women’s competition, which had five teams at the start and was played in a round-robin format, with a final between the top two sides in the group, Sydney Uni sealed the gold medal after a 25:20 win over the University of Sydney Technology HC.
Sigrid Dobson, from the Brisbane Handball Club, was the top scorer of the competition, with 31 goals scored in four matches.