England win the Axios Euro Cup 2013

Michael McCormick

A merciless England outfit have upset the host nation to win the 2013 Axios Euro Cup in Bordeaux on Saturday. The inaugural win for England follows a very strong showing at the European Championships in August, in which many of the players represented the runners up, the GB Bulldogs, who lost by a solitary point to home team, Ireland.

Their opponents, France, made the final via a upset win over defending champions, Ireland, and then a comfortable win over Italy in the semi-final. This was the host nation’s first Grand Final and best placing in an international competition.

Four injuries early in the match didn’t help their cause as England dominated all over the ground early in the match, and went in to half time with a 39 point lead.

France came out firing in the second half but all of their opportunities seemed to fall in England’s favour as the visitors extended their lead via the boot of full forward Lee Tarn and goal sneak Jack Wood. Sean Walton was putting on a dominant display in the midfield and the back line was rebounding everything that came their way.

Full Back, Graham Bickerdike’s attempts to put off his opponent kicking for goal earned him the nickname of ‘the chicken’ with the commentary team.

“He looks like a clucking chicken flapping his wings out there,” stated AFL Europe General Manager, Ben MacCormack. “We’ve never seen anything like this, but it’s proving to be effective.”

England full forward, Lee Tarn was awarded the best player in the Grand Final, earning the accolade with a 7 goal haul, the most goals scored by any individual in a Euro Cup Grand Final.

England will be looking to build on their win in 2013 and go back to back next year in a yet to be determined location.

Croatia claim 3rd place in Axios Euro Cup

Michael McCormick

The giants of Croatia completely overpowered a tired Italian outfit to take third place in the 2013 Axios Euro Cup.

The Croatians, who narrowly lost to eventual premiers, England in the semi-final, looked the superior side, with both size and fitness in their favour. The scoreboard reflected this early in the game as they stormed out to a three goal lead.

Italy didn’t have any answers for the dominant Croatians, only managing a couple of goals by half time. Their frustrations were evident in both their performance and behaviour on the field as tussles broke out at both ends.

The man mountain, Tomislav Cvetko, proved a handful, kicking several majors and involving himself in numerous others. The strong bodies and run of Zvonimir Murkovic and Josip Kravar also proved too much for the Italians as they desperately tried to claw the game back, but to no prevail.

Croatia took a commanding lead late in the match and a comeback was beyond Italy. The siren sounded and the Croatians had cemented third place with a thumping 77 – 34 victory.

Women’s footy has a new champion!

The Women’s competition in the Axios Euro Cup 2013 was won by the European Crusaders, defeating France 45-26.

Women Crusaders came from all over Europe, with players from Switzerland, Italy, Iceland, UK and France. It was the first time that the French national team has played an international game.

The women played four quarters of 15 minutes each. The Crusaders, led by their coach Mattia Sacchi showed great skill throughout the game and good potential for future development in female football of the countries represented. The French Inattendues (“unexpected” in French) and their coach Pascal Ivorra competed well but couldn’t match the Crusaders finishing skills.

Erin Walter from Switzerland (American born) was named the best player on the ground.

This game witnessed a lot of excitement from both sides, everyone was very happy to play in this competition and it was a great opportunity for European women to meet each other and share their passion in this great event. No doubt that all these players will go back home willing to share their experience and motivation with their clubs and friends.

Austria win the third division Euro Plate

Michael McCormick

The fast finishing Austrian Avalanche took out the Axios Euro Plate on Saturday, overcoming the European Crusaders, 39 – 32.

Austria appeared nervous in the first half, conceding two goals very early on to the Crusaders, many of whom had met each other just hours before their first match together. The Crusaders back-line rebounded every Austrian attack and their full forward, Yann Cornaton, was dangerous, booting two goals to lead his team into the half time break with a handy lead.

The Austrians played as if they desperately wanted to win in the second half, dominating through the midfield and putting the score on the board when it mattered most. The immense effort from brothers, Christian and Erwin Schober, saw the momentum shift in Austria’s favour and three late goals gave them a famous victory.

In a true show of the variety of players involved in the Crusaders, Bolivian footballer, Franz Mercado took ‘Man of the Match’ honours, having plenty of the ball and kicking four goals for his team. The zippy midfielder, who has been playing Australian football only a short while has a big future ahead of him in the European competition according to AFL Europe General Manager, Ben MacCormack.

Team Profiles

FRANCE – the home side is looking stronger than ever with several full teams to select their players from. They have the potential to knock off the Irish and eliminate them from finals contention. Players to watch include Captain, Gregoire Patacq and hard running midfielder, Joevin L’Hotelier.

SPAIN: The Spaniards are looking to build on performances from previous Euro Cups and take it up to Italy, one of the favourites to take the Cup. Expect plenty of run, especially out of the back line from Daniel Ribas and some silky smooth skills on display.

ITALY: As one of the favourites of the competition, the Italians take the field in their initial matches against Spain and Austria. Expect aggression and physicality from players such as Filippo Alloisio in the forward line who can kick some very classy goals.

NORWAY: Norway have the most difficult path to a finals berth, having to overcome defending champions, Ireland and home favourites, France. It will be a hard ask of the Norwegians however their fighting spirit should see them at least be competitive.

FINLAND: The ferocious Finns are another side who are looking to build on their previous Euro Cup efforts having worked hard on their skills and fitness over the past year.

CROATIA: After making the long journey by road from Dubrovnik, the Croatian team will be looking to build on their winning form from the inaugural Euro Cup in 2010. Captain, Tomislav Cvetko heads a stellar lineup with the likes of Josip Kravar, the rock down back and forward pressure provided by Zvonimir Murkovic. Expect the Croatian Knights to be a force in today’s proceedings.

IRELAND: the defending champions are back and fielding a slightly weakened team to fight for a another Euro Cup title and another trophy to accompany their European Championships crown from earlier this year.

ENGLAND: Players from Great Britain who came heartbreakingly close to a breakthrough win in the European Championships this year, take the field in a strong England outfit. Expect England to be a main contender for this years title with the likes of Sean Walton in the centre looking to cut a hole in Ireland’s defence.

ICELAND: Having featured in a couple of Euro Cups now, Iceland will be looking for an upset or two. Stalwarts such as Pall Tomas Finnisson will lead the charge.

THE CRUSADERS: this combination of Europeans from various countries who don’t get the opportunity just yet to represent their own nation is shaping up to be a tricky team to pick. With a great mix of many cultures and languages, expect there to be some difficulties on the field but some serious, unexpectedness!

CATALUNYA: As complete underdogs, Catalunya are coming in to this year’s Euro Cup with nothing to lose. Expect competitiveness and a will to improve on past performances.

AUSTRIA: the Austrians have been a weak team in the past Euro Cup however they are looking to compete harder in this years competition. With a strengthened team, expect the Austrians to be competitive against the best.

Welcome ceremony launches Axios Euro Cup 2013

Once a year, European nations come together to battle it out on the football field, with the dream of holding aloft the finely polished piece of silverware, the Axios Euro Cup. This prestigious award that signifies a year’s worth of sweat, blood and tears, will be won and lost on Saturday in the picturesque, wine region of Bordeaux, France.

Proceedings were officially kicked off on Friday night at the opening ceremony, which was attended by captains and coaches of the twelve competing nations in the men’s competition, and the two women’s teams that will be competing for their own Euro Cup.

Madame Bouvier, President of the parent body of football in France, Leo Lagrange, addressed an eager crowd, welcoming them to Bordeaux and thanking all of the people who have made the event possible.

Bouvier stated that the event should focus on the “values of Leo Lagrange” and that all players must respect their opponent, the rules of the game and the umpires decisions.

AFL Europe Chairman, Chris Dow then also welcomed the crowd and thanked Leo Lagrange and the other supporters of CNFA for their support.

Dow went on to express his delight with the venue and how well the event has been organised. He reminisced about the ANZAC Cup, which was held in France in April this year, and stated that he is “[looking] forward to France putting on a great show.”

In 2013, the twelve teams who will be vying to have their country’s name forever etched into AFL Europe history are; Finland, France, Croatia, Spain, Ireland, England, Iceland, Norway, Italy, the Crusaders, Catalunya and Austria. The two women’s teams who will contend the Championship match are France and the Crusaders.

Matches begin this morning with defending champions, Ireland running out against Norway in their first match. Croatia, who won the first Euro Cup in 2010, will play the Crusaders first up and the strong lineup of England will tackle Catalunya in their first round match.

You can stream all the matches on pitch 1 live here

 

 

Axios Euro Cup Schedule now available

Check out the draw for your nation right here. This promises to be an amazing day of Australian Football and accompanying events in the iconic French region, Bordeaux.

Edinburgh Bloods winners of the SARFL Grand Final

In the tenth anniversary year of the Scottish Australian Rules Football League (SARFL) the Grand Final saw reigning champions Edinburgh Bloods take on minor premiers Glasgow Sharks on the afternoon of 31st August. Each side had won on the other’s home ground during the regular season so this game at Linlithgow Rugby Club promised to provide a fitting climax.

Edinburgh began the game in impressive style, their experienced midfield dominating the first quarter as they quickly moved into a strong lead, kicking eight goals to lead 53-1 at the opening break. Glasgow came out much more strongly after the break, tightening up in the back line and midfield to take the second quarter by four goals to three and promise that a comeback could be on its way. Half time score: Edinburgh 11.7.73 Glasgow 4.3.27.

Glasgow’s momentum continued with two further goals in the third quarter but Edinburgh continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over in what had become an absorbing contest for the vocal crowd – hundreds enjoying the unusual Scottish summer sunshine.  Edinburgh maintained their leading margin as both teams continued to play quality football into the final quarter, kicking five goals to three in that term to secure the match.

Final score: Edinburgh 17.19.123 Glasgow 9.6.60

Goals:

Edinburgh: Thomas (3), Beaton (2), Coller (2), Hildebrandt (2), Goodall, McGarry, McGookin, McNicholas, McSparron, Stevens, Townsend, Vahey.

Glasgow: Jack (3), Thompson (3), Douglas (2), Ross Thomson.

This highly entertaining encounter delivered a fitting end to the SARFL season.  Scottish footy is by no means over for the year though.  The Clansmen host England and Wales in the Tri Nations on the 7th September and the Caledonian Australian Football League (CAFL) finals take place next month, with the Grand Final in Glasgow on 19th October.

Pictures of the game available at http://duncolm.smugmug.com/AustralianRulesFootball/SARFL-2013