2019 Euro Cup Team Previews: Part Seven

It’s now less than a week until the 2019 AFL Europe Euro Cup, with the tournament being held in Norrtalje, Sweden for what is set to be a thrilling day of football as national teams from 16 different European countries field their nations best players and over 350 players battle it out for the Cup.

This year’s edition of the Euro Cup will see all the games take place on Saturday the 29th of June. As part of the buildup, AFL Europe will be previewing all the teams competing. In our seventh edition of the team previews, we will be taking a closer look at the host nation, the Swedish Elks, and the Welsh Red Dragons in the men’s side of the competition and in the women’s, the French Gauloises.

 

Men’s Competition:

Welsh Red Dragons

Coach: Tom Case

What has your preparation been heading into the 2019 Euro Cup?

We have had steady preparation with a few dedicated Welsh training sessions alongside our club level training, all the boys have been playing for their respective clubs so fitness and match sharpness are in good swing.

How many clubs are represented in your national team?

Four teams are represented, two WARFL and two AFL London clubs.

How many of your players are going to be making their Euro Cup debuts?

Three debutantes, the exciting Alex Clarke, Rhodri James is looking sharp and Conor Neeson is in good form so all very positive additions.

What can we expect to see from your team this Euro Cup?

You can expect to see a lot of speed and sharpness in tight spaces, freeing up our little guys to get some good space.

What does competing in the Euro Cup mean to your team?

It means we get to show that our small country has a big amount of fight. We get to show our skills on a larger scale and compete against the best in Europe.

What are your expectations for the Euro Cup?

After being seeded in the second tier spot we are looking to get through to the Cup QF and then plan from there, big early displays will set the tone for us before facing the Irish in our last group game. We are expecting big things from this select group of Red Dragons.

Who are the players in your team that we should be watching out for?

Owain Ryland is always dangerous when on form, being a top GB player. Scott Jones who won BIG in Cork 2018 and Alex Clarke the debut player has had a big start to our domestic season.

Do you have any extra bits of information about the team, like past years funny/interesting stories?

Rory Dewhurst likes a good sleep talk and whispered to imaginary cats last year. With Aaron Gale splitting his head open on the main pitch within minutes then staying out until 4 am for the after party, he was the main hero from last years tourney.

The Welsh Red Dragons will be remembered in the 2019 Euro Cup for…

Tenacity, we’ve come to compete and we shall do, so we aren’t here to just make up the numbers!

 

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Swedish Elks

Coach: Leighton “Padsy” Rowsell

Captain: Buster Sund

What has your preparation been heading into the 2019 Euro Cup?

The Elks have unfortunately had a bit of a limited build-up to this year’s Euro Cup. Training is always difficult with multiple competitions several hundred kilometres away from one another. Although, from what we have seen, the young blood is showing a lot of promise and the more experienced blokes have kept the cobwebs away by still running around in their local leagues.

How many clubs are represented in your national team?

Most of the mainstay teams are being represented (Port Malmö Maulers, Helsingborg Saints, Norrtälje Dockers, Solna Axemen, Södermalm Blues) with the hosting Dockers providing roughly half the team. Not sure what’s in the water in Norrtälje but the young blokes love their footy up there. Particularly excited to see Fredrik “Fish Fingers” Lenard have his first run in the Elks kit. He’s quickly proved himself to be a formidable back man and only missed last year’s Euro Cup due to injury.

What can we expect to see from your team this Euro Cup?

Some of the (longer in the tooth) fellas that will be exciting to see will be the returning Mick Larsson, Hampus’ Olsson and Chris Mårtensson after a few years away from international competition. I’m sure a couple of the returning, experienced boys might have lost a bit of pace so you can expect them to make up for it by using their size and strength to be first to the ball.

What are your expectations for the Euro Cup?

A top-five place would be nice and it’s more than possible with the squad we have, but I think our priority on this day is to put on a good show for the AFL Europe community. Also, as always, to continue building for the future of AFL Sweden by continually developing the younger blokes, who will be able to take a lot out of this opportunity.

Do you have any extra bits of information about the team, like past years funny/interesting stories?

Everybody at AFL Sweden are really excited and proud to be hosting this year’s Euro Cup. Ryan Tucker and the legends from the Norrtälje Dockers deserve massive praise and appreciation for putting everything together to make this the biggest and best Euro Cup yet.  It wouldn’t be happening without all of their hard work so make sure you buy a Docker a beer on the day if you see them getting around.

 

Women’s Competition:

French Gauloises

Coach: Thibaut Picard

What has your preparation been heading into the 2019 Euro Cup?

The preparation wasn’t as good as we wanted because we couldn’t have a proper full team meeting. However, each girl has done an incredible job to get fit and ready.

How many clubs are represented in your national team?

The girls come from six clubs (Bayonne, Bordeaux, Lyon, Paris, the new club of Anthony, and Wimbledon).

How many of your players are going to be making their Euro Cup debuts?

Four players are going to discover the competition, but everyone has played at the last ANZAC Cup or Champions League. For sure, representing a country could be emotional, but they are all strong enough to play great footy. One important thing is that there is a new coach for the competition as well, so we have a lot of parameters to manage for a day-competition. But everyone is pretty excited to see something special.

What can we expect to see from your team this Euro Cup?

The last two competitions in Cork and Amsterdam were very frustrating and everyone in France thinks that we can do a better job that we did. The impact of new players and the experience of others can be the perfect mix for this kind of day. Be sure that you’ll see an aggressive French team! But we all want to play good footy as well, which means that we have to do the right things all around the ground, take our time and play for our teammates! If you have to bet on a surprise, you might have a look at this bunch of girls!

What does competing in the Euro Cup mean to your team?

We haven’t missed the Euro Cup for a while! That shows how important is it for the French girls. As we don’t have a proper women’s competition here in France, the Euro Cup is one of the highlights of the year with the Champions League and the ANZAC Cup. This is a huge effort to go to Sweden, and everyone has trained a lot for that!

What are your expectations for the Euro Cup?

I suppose everyone in the team wants to have fun on and off the field. We really have to progress as a team, which is not easy when you don’t train a lot all together. Moreover, the training game that we had to play had been cancelled because of the weather so we are not sure how far we can go. However, we want to make something special and being out of the semi-final would be a failure. We have shown at the ANZAC Cup that we can play strong footy.

Who are the players in your team that we should be watching out for?

Well, she is quite new in the team but be sure to keep an eye on Aralia. Her impact in the midfield and her capacity to break tackles can provide us time and put us on the right direction. She can be the link between our back and forward line. The intelligence, the experience and the science of the game of Camille is a must see as well. 

Do you have any extra bits of information about the team, like past years funny/interesting stories?

In the last Euro Cup, the coach wasn’t able to get to Cork because of a cancelled flight. I really hope everything will go right for me this year!

The French Gauloises will be remembered in the 2019 Euro Cup for…

You know, the most important thing is to remember that this is a sport and only sport. So whatever happens on the field, you’ll always see a smile on our faces, you’ll always hear us sing and say fair-play!

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe