The 2019 edition of AFL Europe’s Euro Cup takes place tomorrow, Saturday the 29th of June, in Norrtälje, Sweden as 16 different national sides battle it out to decide who comes out on top as Europe’s best 9-a-side team.
Over 400 players plus team staff, fans and volunteers will be involved in a big day of Australian Football on Saturday with games scheduled to commence at 9am, with the final match scheduled to start at 6:30 pm.
Preparation for the tournament has been underway for 16 months, with the last few months being used to make sure everything comes together. AFL Sweden President and tournament organiser Ryan Tucker has been busy with preparations but is looking forward to what the day will bring.
“People are ecstatic that a European level tournament will be held in our small city… Our mission for this tournament was to increase the overall feeling and enjoyment for the participants and spectators,” Tucker said.
This is the first time Sweden has hosted the Euro Cup, one of the major tournaments on AFL Europe’s calendar, and for many, it will be a unique country to play Australian Football in.
“For our participants, it is the opportunity to visit Sweden, a country maybe not too often on the beaten tourist trail… Also having the Cup in the summer adds another element to the overall feel of the day and the festivities in the evening… It is a fantastic opportunity for our association to grow awareness of the sport here in Sweden,” Tucker said.
With the weather currently looking clear and in the mid 20’s for Saturday, everything is underway for another fantastic Euro Cup tournament.
In Pool A of the men’s draw, we see the Croatian Knights, German Eagles, Austrian Avalanche and the Finland Icebreakers. The Knights are the top-ranked side in the Pool and return after winning the Bronze medal in last years Euro Cup. They will be the team to beat, but the German Eagles will want to get revenge for their defeat to the Knights in the 2017 AFL International Cup Division Two Grand Final. This game between the Eagles and Knights will be the one to keep an eye out for, but the Avalanche and Icebreakers will also be ready to take advantage of any games dropped by the opposition. For the Avalanche, they will be aiming to have a strong tournament to get back into the Top 8 sides, while the Icebreakers are returning to the Euro Cup for the first time since 2013 and will be excited to get out on the field.
This Pool is made up of the French Coqs, Scottish Clansmen, Swedish Elks and the Russian Bears. As the host nation, the Swedish Elks will want to show everyone how good they are on the field and will look at the pool with optimism that they can push for a semi-final place. Joining them in Pool B are the Russian Bears, who have been consistent regulars at the Euro Cup since their debut in 2016. The top-ranked team in the pool are the French Coqs, who come into the tournament off an impressive win over the Australian Spirit side in the ANZAC Cup in April. They will want to replicate that form and if they do, will be very hard to beat. The final team in the Pool is the Scottish Clansmen, who will be looking to make the most of their strong Great Britain contingent, particularly in their game against Sweden which should be a tight battle between two sides looking to climb up the ranks.
Over in Pool C, the England Dragonslayers, Nederland Flying Dutchmen, Israeli Beasts and Polish Devils will battle it out for a place in the semi-finals. The England Dragonslayers won the Euro Cup in 2017, and finished 4th last year so will be hoping they can replicate their 2017 form in this year’s tournament. One team to keep an eye out for are the Polish Devils, who are competing in their inaugural Euro Cup, with the game only starting up in Poland in the past few months. Joining them are the newly named Israeli Beasts, who are returning officially for the first time as the Israeli national team. Their game against the Nederland Flying Dutchmen should be a great contest, with the Flying Dutchmen having increased selection opportunities this year after their local league expanded to three teams, a sign of the strong recent development in the Netherlands.
In the final Pool, the Irish Warriors, Welsh red Dragons, Czech Republic Dragons and Swiss Wolves will all be looking to have a strong Euro Cup tournament. The Irish Warriors will be looking to go one better than their last three tournaments, where they finished as runners-up on each occasion. Another team who will be looking to climb up the ranks after expanding their local league are the Swiss Wolves. Their game against the Czech Republic could have an impact on the rankings depending on other results, so both teams will view that as a big opportunity to win. The Dragons are returning for their third Euro Cup after competing in their first ever Champions League earlier this year. The other team named the Dragons, the Welsh Red Dragons, are entering the tournament with a good spread of Great Britain representative players and will be hoping to use that experience to their advantage.
On to the women’s Pool’s, and the Irish Banshees, Croatian Queens, German Eagles and Welsh Wyverns will be competing in Pool A. Returning as Euro Cup Champions for 2018 and 2017 AFL International Cup Champions, the Irish Banshees will want to win yet another big tournament. This year, the Croatian Queens have had two teams to select their squad from after their local league expanded to include a second team. Their strong performance at this year’s Champions League shows they can be a real challenge to the opposition. The German Eagles will be returning for their second Euro Cup after finishing 5th in their first ever Euro Cup last year. This year, their goal is to finish in the top three, and their matchup against Croatia could go a long way to deciding who will battle for a semi-final place. Joining them are the Welsh Wyverns, who will be hoping their preparation for the tournament having played regular games against teams from the SEAFL and CNEAFL late last year will put them in a solid position at this year’s tournament.
Pool B in the women’s see the England Vixens, Swedish Ravens, Swiss Heidi’s and French Gauloises match up against each other. The Champions from the 2017 tournament, the England Vixens, will be hoping to make the Grand Final and battle it out for the title after they finished second last year. With a large group of Great Britain players, they have plenty of experience to guide them. In Pool B, the big game will be the Vixens against the hosts, Swedish Ravens, who finished third in both 2017 and 2018. Joining them for the first ever time are the Swiss Heidis, playing in their inaugural Euro Cup. Rounding out Pool B is the French Gauloises who are Euro Cup regulars and will be hoping they can have a strong day after an impressive performance at the ANZAC Cup.
2019 Team Previews:
Part One: Austrian Avalanche, Croatian Knights, England Vixens.
Part Two: Croatian Queens, Russian Bears, Polish Devils.
Part Three: England Dragonslayers, Finland Icebreakers, Swedish Ravens.
Part Four: Czech Republic Dragons, French Coqs, German Eagles (women’s).
Part Five: Irish Banshees, Israeli Beasts, German Eagles (men’s).
Part Six: Irish Warriors, Swiss Wolves, Welsh Wyverns.
Part Seven: Swedish Elks, Welsh Red Dragons, French Gauloises.
Part Eight: Scottish Clansmen