Fitzpatrick Cup 2020 Team Previews: Cambridge University

The 2020 edition of the Fitzpatrick Cup is just around the corner, with the finest University teams in Europe set to descend on Horspath Athletics Ground next Saturday, February 8th. Next up in our Team Previews are Fitz Cup stalwarts, Cambridge University, who will be travelling across to with their men’s and women’s squads. Below, we hear from CUARFC President Pauline O’Malley on Cambridge’s progress leading into this year’s tournament.

 

What has the last year looked like for Cambridge?

In the last year, we have bolstered our numbers gaining players with a range of experience. It has been a fantastic mix of fresh faces and long standing members. Having the perspective from new members who have played the game for a long time is always great, especially when introducing AFL to so many people new to the game.

What’s the aim of the team for this year’s competition?

Pretty simple, we want to play our best and come home with some silverware. Exposure to the game is another key goal. This year we have eight new women representing Cambridge in the Fitz Cup, many are playing their first year of AFL. It’s great watching these new women play there are some really exciting players competing. 

The tournament is back in England this year, much closer to home, will that help?

It has been easier from an availability perspective, hopefully with a few less miles travelled in the morning we will have a successful day and learn from the experience. Although for us we love to travel to Ireland to play so we don’t anticipate much of a difference from recent tournaments.

Any young stars to keep our eye on?

The women’s and men’s teams have gained a lot of new players in the last year, all of which have picked up the skills very quickly.  Two of our new women really stand out, I would say keep your eyes out for: Kate Marks and Sally O’Brien. For the men, keep your eyes out for: Todd Tunley, Dante McGrath and Edouard Souteyrand.

What’s the key strength of the team?

We have gained players with a lot of playing experience playing, it is great having these more experienced players showing us new skills we can incorporate into our games.  Being historically a small club I would say our greatest strength is the supportive culture within the club. We really focus on making sure everyone really enjoys their footy and it really shows on the field.

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?

Reece Digance is the coach, he took over being the head coach this year. Reece has played footy in Adelaide most his life, but has been a club member for the last 5 years. His experience brings a lot to the role.  With input from other members of the leadership group the training has varied from learning the basics to shuttle runs.

Fitzpatrick Cup 2020 Team Previews: SDU

The 2020 edition of the Fitzpatrick Cup is just around the corner, with the finest University teams in Europe set to descend on Horspath Athletics Ground next Saturday, February 8th. Next up in our Team Previews are the debutants from Denmark, SDU, who will be travelling across to their inaugural Fitz with one men’s team. Below, we hear from SDU’s Morten Merhoj about how their brand new team is looking forward to the competition.

 

What has the last year looked like for SDU?
In Denmark University Sports is not something we have tradition for. Therefore a few years back a student organization called SDU Sports Odense was made to try and change that. The purpose was to facilitate sports and teams for the university students. Last year in 2019 a group of students came together to play Australian Football during winter at the university. The result was the first ever University game of Australian Football in Denmark, this was against Oxford University who traveled all the way to come play against us. This was also the first ever international sporting event for SDU Sport Odense.
 
What’s the aim of the team for this years competition?
The SDU team is very new and therefore most of our players have little experience. Actually 6 players on the team will have their very first game during the Fitzpatrick Cup. The aim is therefore to do better than our ranking but most of all to give our players the experience of playing competitive footy and have a great time in Oxford seeing many of our friends from last years game again.   
 
How’s the squad feeling coming into their debut Fitzpatrick Cup?
Everyone is excited about participating in a University tournament and for those who have played before, looking forward to some new opponents. We have no idea how strong the other university teams are, so we do not now what to expect, but it will surely be great fun. We have our fingers crossed for some wet and muddy football and hopefully only a little snow.  
Any young stars to keep our eye on?
The team has a group of experienced played with names like Kasper Høegh and Frederik Sander, who also played with the Danish national team during the European Championship last year. The new potential stars to look for is Frederik Rolsted and Johan Mikkelsen with only a month of training they have already demonstrated the spirit to learn and fight, something we will need during the tournament.   
What’s the key strength of the team?
The key strengths of our team will be the leadership from the core group of experienced players. The players who have played before with the local team in Odense are very good at lifting and teaching the new players. I therefore expect the leaning curve to go up fast and see some good plays during the tournament involving some of the new players.  
 
Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?
The coach of SDUs Australian Football team is a legend. His name is Axel Bjerg, that translates into: Axel the Mountain. He injured his knee last year and is sidelined for 2020, so while he is standing there he might as well scream at the rest of us. The Mountain has also won the best moustache award three years in a row and will lead not only the tournament but also the after-party.

Fitzpatrick Cup 2020 Team Previews – Oxford University

The 2020 edition of the Fitzpatrick Cup is just around the corner, with the finest University teams in Europe set to descend on Horspath Athletics Ground next Saturday, February 8th. Next up in our Team Previews are Oxford University, who will be flaunting two men’s and one women’s squads on the day as they play host to the tournament. Below, we hear from OUARFC President Kate Leslie on how the teams are shaping up.

 

What has the last year looked like for Oxford?

The last 12 months were very successful for our club with the men winning the 2018/19 NUL grand final and the women minor premiers. We are looking to build on that success and with any luck emulate these achievements this year.

What’s the aim of the team for this years competition?

We’re expecting a strong showing from both of our men’s teams this year. If one of our teams can come away with the cup then it will be a huge success for the club as a whole. With a fairly new team on board for the women this year, we are becoming familiar with the game, and working on improving our ball skills. Both teams are focused on building a positive and supportive culture for the wider club and the European league.

The tournament is in your own backyard this year, will that help? 

It certainly helps from an availability perspective, allowing us to fill two sides for the men’s tournament and put forward a strong women’s team. However we know there will be solid competition coming to Oxford and a home advantage won’t mean a great deal when games get underway. We are looking forward to the opportunity to involve others in Oxford in Aussie Rules though, including our Oxford University Australian/New Zealand society, and it’s always nice to have some extra support on the sidelines!

Are the oxford teams looking forward to playing host?

Absolutely! We are looking forward to a great day of footy and celebrating afterwards with all the teams that have travelled to play here! It will be great to showcase the sport of Australian Rules Football in Oxford and we look forward to welcoming teams from across Europe.

Any young stars to keep our eye on?

We are fortunate to have lots of new people joining our squad this year! Keep an eye on Josh Jee, who is showing some really positive signs in his first year of footy and becoming a real threat up forward. 

What’s the key strength of the team?

Our women’s team have a great attitude to backing one another up on the field and playing as a team. The men’s team‘s strength is a balance across all lines of the field. 

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?

We’ve been coached by our captains Jasper Fried, Cam Sharp and Beth Hamilton this year, with some extra input for the women’s team from Ben McDonald. 

 

Fitzpatrick Cup 2020 Team Previews – CIT Saints

The 2020 edition of the Fitzpatrick Cup is just around the corner, with the finest University teams in Europe set to descend on Horspath Athletics Ground next Saturday, February 8th. First up in our Team Previews are the CIT Saints, who will be travelling across from Cork with two men’s squads for the tournament. Below, we hear from CIT’s Coach Eoin O Suilleabhain, on how the lads are shaping up for their second appearance at the Fitz.

 

What has the last year looked like for CIT?

Well, after a successful debut at the tournament we’ve gone from strength to strength. We beat our close rivals UCC in last year’s Cork Colleges Cup, and we won the Irish Universities Cup also, so it’s been great really. The game is growing in popularity year on year here. We’ve got a great Club Committee in place, and the Sports Dept. in CIT have been immense. Also, CIT hosted the Euro Cup in 2018 with helped us out with promotion too, so it helped our recruitment no end. We’ve had opportunities to blood a lot of new players through playing in The Leeside League and players togging for the AFL Ireland Premiership team The Leeside Lions too, so all is going well.

What’s the aim of the team for this years competition?

It’s simple really, we want to win The Fitz. Both squads want to win, and I realise that’s impossible, but our boys are hungry for success and want to go all the way. Our second squad is just as competitive as our firsts, with some boys missing a spot on the firsts due to being unable to commit to training while playing GAA, Rugby, Soccer, etc. But, with the likes of Oisin Fitz and Eamonn Browne in around the mids, Conall Kane and Chris Keegan at ruck or a forward option, Olan Murphy off the half back, Jack Skehan and James O Shea on ball and Andrew O Neill and Connor Tobin up front, both CIT 1 and CIT 2 will be out to win. To topple the likes of current champions UCC and past champions Birmingham is an aim, facing a no-doubt well oiled Danish machine and a strong Welsh representation will be very tough, to face up to hosts Oxford and ever-presents Cambridge and go toe-to-toe with them is an exciting challenge. 

Any young stars to keep our eye on?

As always, it’s hard to pick out individuals, but I’m not one to shy away from it. We have some accurate kicks out of the backs in Jerry Cronin and James Hegarty, a few great on-ballers in around the guts with aussie Dave Perkinson and Mark O Donoghue playing some great footy, and up top we have some tall timber with great boots in Ian O Callaghan and Padraic O Sullivan. Couple those with the likes of Sean Tyres, Patrick Connolly, Ross Moynihan & Fiachra Harrington in around the mids and you have the makings of a good squad.

What’s the key strength of the team?

Competitiveness & accuracy. Our boys were pipped at the post in The Leeside League, and a whole host of new players were competing in the first competition then against well drilled outfits in UCC and Leeside Lions. These boys just never let up, it’s amazing. And the accuracy in kicking has improved greatly in recent weeks. Right options being taken, making sure of majors instead of behinds, it’s all going well. What we might lack in experience we more than make up for in effort.

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?

Myself, Eoin O Suilleabhain, will be at the helm again this year, ably assisted by Paul Murphy. I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved with the Leeside Lions and UCC over the past 10 years, including three Fitz Cups won as coach, and I’ve also played for my club and country at a high level. Murph is the founder of CIT AFL, he’s a current Leeside Lions and Irish Warriors player, a former Fitz winning captain, and knows the game like an old stalwart already. His game-management is fantastic and his extensive experience of this competition is invaluable to us.