Australia Spirit take home the Topdeck ANZAC Cup

ANZAC day holds a special place in the heart of every Australian – that we already know. What the 2014 Topdeck ANZAC Cup taught all of the players lucky enough to pull on the Australian Spirit jumper against the French national team – spending several days in majestical Villers-Bretonneux in the process – is that its locals hold it just as dear.

The locals had hosted the Australian players, family and friends in their homes for three nights to further strengthen the ties between the two countries. Reflecting on the experience, many of the players considered it one of the most memorable experiences of their young lives. Tom Rischbieth, a player who has experienced AFL at the highest level, described it as “truly one of the best experiences of my life“. Matt Hook, the elder statesman of the team and a veteran of two ANZAC Cup showdowns, made his feelings on the experience clear: “I feel incredibly privileged to have taken part in such a special few days,” he said.

 

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Images: Jacob McFadden & David Higgs

The local ABA (the association responsible for the on-ground organisation) again put in a tremendous amount of work, and its volunteers were recognised by both national teams via a town parade that took all involved in the occasion past the local school and through many of the streets to thank the town for the event. Now in its sixth year, the event is reliant on this group and the local council to ensure its longevity for generations to come.

The game got underway following the anthems of both teams and a minute’s silence. To say that the Australians were excited and focused is an understatement; it was easy to see in the players’ eyes that they were ready to represent Australia with all they had. The French had come with a slightly weakened team due to a couple of injuries and travel commitments, but once each player pulled on the national jumper they were more than ready.

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The first quarter set the tone for the whole match and, with the ball coming into Australia’s forward line so efficiently, bustling Jack Lawson banged through goal after goal, kicking seven in the opening term alone. He proved just as difficult to stop in the second quarter, adding another four majors before a shuffle to defence cooled him off. France lost captain and onballer Alban Schieber with a knee injury in the first two minutes of play, not helping their cause. With a solid Australian backline and Sam Higgs (one of the three Higgs brothers) and Rischbieth everywhere in the middle, the French found it very difficult to get the ball forward with any consistency.

A head clash between Australians Hook and Ben Rogers in the third quarter highlighted the physicality of the match and left blood dripping from both. As it turns out, Hook’s companion and secret weapon was also a plastic surgeon, and both were stitched up post-game. France slammed on two goals in their best period of the match and started to grow in confidence with some great passages of play. Their ruckman Thomas Depondt battled hard all day long.

The last quarter saw Australia pile on more goals courtesy of some slick ball movement. Rangy ruckman-turned-forward Phil Clegget started to hold his marks and did not look like missing from any distance, while the Higgs brothers shared the ball between them.

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While the Australians proved too strong on the day, the match was played in high spirits, with the crowd getting a great exhibition of high-class football skills.

“The national team will learn a lot from today and can take those lessons into the remainder of our preparations for IC14 in Australia this August,” France coach,Thomas Urban said.

Of his side Ben MacCormack, CEO of AFL Europe said: “The team is picked on their individual connection to the area and the ANZAC spirit. The level can be varied throughout the team. However, this year, it was an exceptional group.

“More pleasing was the respect, understanding and enthusiasm the whole group showed towards the event, commemoration and the people of Villers Bretonneux.”

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“This is a very special event on the AFL Europe calendar and should be an event that every Australian attends at some stage in their life,” MacCormack concluded.

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Whilst it is the spirit of the event that is most important the Australian’s where thrilled to even the series at 3-3 with this years victory.

Score:

Australia 10.5 (65)     22.7 (139)     30.11 (191)     39.14 (248)

France        0.0 (0)         0.2 (2)              2.3 (15)            2.7 (19)

Goals:

Australia: Lawson 11, S. Higgs 7, Clegget 5, MacCormack 3, Price 3, P. Higgs 3, McGrath 2, Rischbieth 2, D. Higgs, Hook, Howard

France: Debet, Cassavetti

Australian Embassy – France, Best on ground:

Australia: Sam Higgs

France: Thomas Depondt

See you next year in VB for the 7th edition

Topdeck ANZAC Cup updates for this weekend

The Topdeck ANZAC Cup game will take place in Villers-Bretonneux in France this Saturday the 26th of April at 3:30pm.

The Australian team will take on the French team led by Thomas Urban, President of the CNFA and coach of the French national team:

“The 2014 Topdeck ANZAC Cup is a very important step for the French National team this year. We need to confirm our last great performance from the 2013 Axios Euro Cup in Bordeaux [France reached the Grand Final in the competition] and prepare the team for the International Cup. For 70% of the players this game will be their first international game representing the French team.

Even more importantly, this year marks the celebration of the World War 1 centenary and we would like to highlight the French-Australian friendship through this event.”

Most of the French clubs will be represented in the French team:

Paris Cockerels: Stephen CASSAVETTI

Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes: Thomas COCHET

Alfa Lions: Thomas DEPONDT

Strasbourg Kangourous: Joévin L’HOTELLIER

Bordeaux Bombers: Yoann ALLIOT-MARTY, Alban SCHIEBER (Captain), Cyril DEBET

Toulouse Hawks: Yvan BARBARIA, Adrien DAVID, Julien GIL, Simon MONDIN, William TAPIA, Florian VIDAL

The Australian players will come from all around Europe and Australia to play this important game and represent their country.

Australia: Phil CLEGGET, Joe DURLING, David HIGGS, Paddy HIGGS, Sam HIGGS, Matt HOOK, Dale HOUSDEN, Oliver HOWARD, Jack LAWSON, Ben MACCORMACK (Coach), Patrick MCGRATH, Ryan PRICE, Tom RISCHBIETH, Ben ROGERS, Brendan STEAD.

The umpires for the game will be Niels SCHONNEMANN and George WOOD.

After having run the London Marathon on the 13th of April, the AFL Europe CEO Ben MacCormack is ready to coach the Australian’s and is looking to redeem the 40 point loss from 2013. “This is a real highlight of the AFL Europe calendar that has been developed by the CNFA, the local towns ABA members and some proud Aussie’s over the years. It is a real privilege for AFL Europe to be involved and we will have our Chairman Chris Dow and Commission Member Michelle Morgan with their families present for the event. The town makes such an effort to host proceedings throughout the week and we would like to give special thanks to Xavier and his team of volunteers for all the work put in to make the event happen”. MacCormack said.

“Having Topdeck (naming rights) and the Australian Embassy in France (best player medals) support the event also shows that companies want to connect with this important commemoration for the ANZAC’s that fought on the fields that we now play games of footy on. It’s a special weekend and I hope a big crowd can get along to see an exciting contest.” MacCormack concluded.

Although rivalry will be high the most important feature of the day will be to honor and celebrate those who gave their lives to form an integral part of our shared history.

Event updates will be available on AFL Europe social media.

#topdeckanzaccup

Anzac Cup 2014

2014 Topdeck ANZAC Cup Fast Approaching


AFL Europe now turns its attention to the 6th edition of the Topdeck ANZAC Cup to be held at the historic location of Villers Bretonneux in France on the 26th of April. In World War 1 this location was the site of the worlds first battle between tank forces and cost the Australian army 1200 lives. To pay tribute to the role the ANZACs played the Australian team will play the French team in what promises to be a memorable match for both players and spectators. Those chosen to represent Australia were not chosen solely on their football ability but also their personal connection and interest in the history that surrounds the ANZACs.

The weekend will commence on Friday with the Dawn Service to be held from 3am- 6am at the Australian War Memorial of Villers Bretonneux. On Saturday the teams will attend the commemoration at the Australian War Memorial followed by the team march which will leave from Place Robinvalle.

The game will kick off at 3:30pm at Stade Timmerman in Villers Bretonneux on Saturday the 26th.

Anzac Cup

The AIS-AFL Academy wins 2014 AFL Europe Easter Series

The 2014 Easter Series in Harrow has now come to an end. After a huge week of intense training, football education and personal development the European Legion were fired up to take on the AIS/AFL Academy in what shaped as the tightest contest yet.

First off the bat in the curtain raiser the GB Bulldogs took on the Aussie Expats (new concept). The crowd were on the edge of their seats as both teams attacked the ball fiercely and put on a great exhibition of Australian Football. This also provided the GB Bulldogs with one of their last major hit-outs as a squad before competing in IC14. The Bulldogs were slightly undermanned with a number of their stars in the Legion squad, and a few already out in Australia. Despite this they fought hard against the rapidly assembled Expats but couldn’t quite match their skill level. Eventually they fell away with the final scores Expats 10.13.73 – GB Bulldogs 5.7.37. AFL England President Adam Bennett couldn’t help himself and pulled on the Bulldogs jumper once again.

AFL Europe Easter Series

In the main game at 2pm the AIS/AFL Academy side jumped the home team early and dominated the first term. The Legion looked shellshocked and had nowhere to hide in what looked an ominous start to a long afternoon. In a 7 goal to nil term including three 50m penalties against the Legion it certainly looked grim.

Tadhg Kennelly regrouped the squad at 1/4 and asked the team to slow down, breathe and start to play their own brand of football. Whatever else he said certainly had an impact as the Legion held their own for the next 2 quarters. The link up play by hand and foot showed skills beyond their experience (8 players had never played a full match before) and the score board also started to tick over. The Flynn brothers combined for one of the goals of the day while Shehroz Akram and Zvonomir Murkovich kicked superb crumbing goals.

With Sam Willatt holding potential No.1 pick Peter Wright to 2 goals at full back anything looked possible if not for the slow start.

In the last term the Australians showed why they are the best players in their age group with some stunning play and continued hard running and spread really testing the game knowledge of the European’s. Lamb (highly noticeable with his blonde locks) seemed to be everywhere and Weller had huge numbers of disposals to keep pumping the Australian’s forward. To Europe’s credit they got 3 goals of their own in the last and walked off with head’s held high.

With a crowd of AFL Club recruiters, family and friends of the players from many nations and AFL Europe officials, the match was the highlight of a week-long development program for the two squads. The European Legion team was led out by Port Adelaide’s Irish recruit Daniel Flynn who led by example kicking a goal and running hard all day.

“This is the prefect opportunity for our European community to show its talent development over the past 12 months. It’s a real indicator of the hard work being done by our volunteers amongst the AFL Europe members to nurture and expose the best young footballers to this elite level competition. We get closer every year and have real belief that a victory is not all that far away”  Chris Dow, Chairman, AFL Europe said.

The final score:

AIS-AFL Academy      7.2    10.8   14.11    21.11     (137)

European Legion        0.3    2.4     3.5         6.6       (42)

 

Goals:

AIS-AFL Academy: Lamb 5, Goddard 4, Petracca 3, Wright 2, Smith, Weller, Walsh, Heeney, Brayshaw, Bower, McLaren

European Legion: Akram, Murkovic, O’Riordan, Campion, L.Flynn, D.Flynn

 

Best Players:

AIS-AFL Academy: Lamb, Weller, Heeney, Goddard, Petracca, Walsh, Smith

European Legion: Willatt,  McKenna, Habljak, D.Flynn, Hurley, Brophy

“The way both teams have applied themselves throughout the week and during the match is a real credit to the coaches that have prepared them to this point. It has been great to see the European team evolve and grow into what now forms solid opposition for our touring AIS/AFL Academy. The Australian boys certainly know they were in a contest today and will learn a lot from the whole experience” Kevin Sheehan, AFL National/International Talent Manager, said.

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AFL Europe Easter Series

The 2014 European Legion players are:

  • Croatia – Filip Lenic, Josip Habljak , Zvonimir Murkovic;
  • Demark – Aksel Bang, Chris Campion, Mathias Biron, Mikkel Kjoege, Nathan Campion, William Anderson;
  • England – Cameron Cope, Ollie Dilieto, Sam Willatt, Sean Walton;
  • Germany – Jakob Jung;
  • Ireland – Ciaron O’Hanlon, Colin O’Riordan, Conor McKenna, Daniel Flynn, Luke Flynn, Paddy Brophy, Padraig Lucey, Peter Cooke, Sean Hurley, Shehroz Akram, Stephen Coen; and
  • Sweden – Hampus Olsson.

The 26 players from across Europe will return to their home Clubs, armed with sharper skills and an insight into the level of commitment and professionalism required to make it at a higher level in Australian football.  Over the course of the week, they have been exposed to new training drills by experienced AFL coaches and been observed by AFL Recruiters looking out for the next young AFL star.

Follow us at: @AFL_Europe @AFLDraft #afleasterseries #bestofthebest

 

Easter Series kicked off in London

Since their arrival in London on Sunday the 6th, both teams have been working hard, with training sessions for both the Legion and the squad of players from Australia every day. The group also managed to fit in a visit to Wembley Stadium and of course sightseeing in London.

For the first part of the week the AIS-AFL Academy and the European Legion trained and spent time together. This format allowed them to learn a lot from each other and for the European’s experience the highest level of coaching available in the game.

The 2014 European Legion team comprises of players aged 17 to 25 years from Croatia, Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland and Sweden.  They will be coached by Gaelic footballer and Sydney Swans Premiership player, Tadhg Kennelly.

According to Tadhg Kennelly, “Spending the time together to train alongside the best young players from Australia is a new and exciting opportunity.

It’s going to accelerate their skills and show us who can handle the pressure best, not to mention the time the AFL Club recruiters will get to watch and speak with them.

The players will go back to their countries with a better idea of life as a professional athlete and they can share what they’ve learnt with their team mates. Long term it all helps to grow the game in Europe.” Kennelly said.

On Wednesday, the best players from Australia and Europe played together in a practice match at Harrow School. Both teams were mixed in this practice match and showed great skills, which is very encouraging for the players and their future in Australian Football.

The score was tight the whole game however of no great importance as this was more about applying the lessons learnt so far during the week. Our European’s didn’t look out of place at all and it was very difficult at times to tell who was who. Congratulations to both teams.

The Easter Series forms a valuable part of the players pathway, for both the European Legion and the AIS-AFL Academy, with the young men expected to be selected by the Australian AFL Clubs in the player Draft in November this year.

If wednesdays match is anything to go by the big game on saturday is sure to be a cracker.

For updates on the Easter Series see Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

#afleasterseries #bestofthebest @afl_europe

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