The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews is 2011 and 2014 IC veterans, the French Coqs.
History of the Coqs
The first French national side appeared at the then ‘EU’ Cup in London in 2005. They have competed in every Euro Cup since then and their best result in the annual 9-a-side competition a 2nd at their home tournament in Bordeaux, 2013.
The French side first competed in the International Cup in 2011 and this is where their nickname the Coqs was born. The Coqs finished 14th in this tournament before improving on this in their next attempt in 2014.
The French league, the CNFA, has grown from strength to strength in recent years and this has transitioned into their national side. Playing against expat Australian’s each year for the ANZAC Cup has provided good exposure to some very high-quality footballers.
Last IC and European Championships
The French competed in their second International Cup last time around and showed significant improvement.
They opened the tournament against European counterparts, the GB Bulldogs, and went down by 83-points. They moved onto the next round against eventual finalists, Ireland, and got taught a tough lesson. With only two scoring shots they fell short by 111 to 2.
Two very tough first up encounters put them in good stead going into their third game and blitzed Indonesia in Diggers Rest. They won by a huge 106-points and regained some confidence moving into the final two games.
They finished in 12th place after three rounds which sat them in the Division 1 final series and they drew the notoriously physical Canadians. They fought hard but the Canadians prevailed, winning 9.15 (69) to 2.3 (15).
They saved their best game for last and turned it on against Pakistan in the 11th place playoff. They lead from start to finish and claimed the 11th place with a resounding 81-point victory.
The French did not compete at last year’s European Championships.
Round 1: vs Fiji
Round 2: vs Ireland
Round 3: vs Nauru
Round 4: vs USA
Grand Finals: vs TBC
Player to Watch
The tall forward from the Lyon has had a breakout year in the CNFA. In only his second year of Aussie Rules his progress has been astronomical.
He was part of the ALFA Lions side that claimed the CNFA title earlier this year and played a major role for the French side against Australia in the ANZAC Cup. He was awarded best on ground honours in that game with his pace off the mark and strong hands the focal point to his game.
Pierre will be a strong forward and will need to play his best to help the Coqs in what will be a very difficult tournament for them.
IC17 Crystal Ball
The French will be taking on the world’s best in the top division at IC17 and are up for the challenge. The improvement in French football over the past few years has been rapid and they shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Coach, Andrew Unsworth, will have them well prepared for each of their opposition with none more important than their round 1 match-up against Fiji. This game is huge for them and will be one they’ll go into expecting to win.
Tough subsequent rounds against Ireland and Nauru will give the Coqs a shot at two of the top sides in the competition. They’ll go into these are big underdogs but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them taking these sides right to the brink.
A final round match against the USA will give them the chance to show that they aren’t just making up the numbers in the top division and that they mean business.
Their rank suggests they’ll do it tough in Division 1 but beware the French Coqs. They could be a real smokey in this division and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them knock off teams that don’t come prepared to play a hard match.