Croatia to host European Championships in October!

AFL Europe is excited to announce that for the first time since 2019, European Championships will be making a return in 2022.

The competition, to be hosted from October 5-8 in Zagreb, Croatia, will round out our year of international events.

Hosted every three years, European Championships sees some of Europe’s top Aussie rules talent battle it out representing their respective countries in the classic 18-a-side format of the game. Similarly to 2019, initial games will be played as two 20-minute halves before all finals will extend to full-length 20-minute quarters.

As always, the competition will be for European or UK citizens only and will have both a men’s and women’s championship.

In the men’s division, Great Britain will be looking to continue its red-hot Euro Championships form and go back-to-back…to-back – with a potential three-peat on the cards, the Great British Bulldogs will be hungry for another victory.

While in the women’s side of the draw, expect Ireland to be the team to beat. The Irish Banshees not only won in 2019 but did so without conceding a single point. The year also saw Ireland win all three major international women’s AFL Europe competitions, something the rest of the competition will be eager to prevent in 2022.

AFL Croatia will host the event for the first time, having just built a brand-new AFL-size oval; perfect for the 18-a-side format.

AFL Europe extends a huge thank-you to the AAFC for kindly offering to host and we wish the Croatian Knights the best of luck as it looks to better its fourth-place finish from 2019 on home soil.

If you’re interested in registering your international team for the 2022 European Championships, you can express your interest here.

You can check your team’s and player’s eligibility here.

Tournament details

Wednesday October 5 – Saturday October 8, 2022

University of Zagreb Sportground, Zagreb, Croatia

Further information about the tournament will be communicated over the coming months.

2022 ANZAC Cup Squad Announcement

This year’s ANZAC Cup will run from April 23-25 in the French town of Villers-Bretonneux. It will see a return of the yearly Aussie rules match-up between the Australian Spirit and French national sides, conducted as part of the annual ‘Australia Week’ celebrations held in Villers-Bretonneux.

The small, Northern French town has a strong connection with the Australian Armed Forces. On April 24, 1918, it was captured by German infantry before Australian troops came to the rescue and retook the town overnight.

It is a great honour to represent Australia across the ANZAC Cup weekend and AFL Europe is pleased to announce the official Australian Spirt men’s and women’s sides ahead of April’s matches.

Coaching the Australian Spirit squad for the first time will be Justin Clarke. The former Brisbane Lion recently took over as coach of the University of Oxford’s AFL women’s side and has started his tenure with a bang – guiding them to victory in the Fitzpatrick Cup in Cardiff earlier this month.

Men’s Squad:

  • Bradley Geddes
  • Jonas Manley
  • Lucas Lovell
  • Sebastian Permain
  • Chris Rodger
  • Hayden Slater
  • Justin Holloway
  • Dominic McInerney
  • Matt Hamilton
  • Andrew Baldwin
  • James Brosnan
  • Brendan Byrne
  • Christopher Carson
  • Brett Olser

Women’s Squad:

  • Shannon Curran
  • Hannah Williams
  • Elizabeth Hamilton
  • Belinda Nicholson
  • Rosie Millen
  • Katren Rogers
  • Anna McGlade
  • Alexandra Sonnefeld
  • Amelia Williams
  • Amanda Gavin
  • Genevive Kanowski
  • Jessica Adams
  • Ruby Furnell
  • Angi Crispe

Coach

  • Justin Clarke

Congratulations to those selected and we look forward to seeing you all in France later this year.

More information about the history of Villers-Bretonneux and AFL Europe’s ANZAC Cup can be found here.

Fitzpatrick Cup Review 2022

Over the weekend, Cardiff played host to the return of the Fitzpatrick Cup, where some of Europe’s best university teams descended upon the Welsh capital with one collective goal – to be crowned champions.

After a year off tournament competition, each university squad had seen plenty of turnover in personnel, making it almost impossible to pick a winner ahead of the day. As always, Cambridge, Oxford and Birmingham universities brought along a strong collective of female and male footballers, while hosts Cardiff Met returned to the tournament for just the second time and Queens University Belfast made its Fitzpatrick Cup debut in the men’s competition.

QUB became the first ever Northern Irish team to compete in the Fitz Cup, a significant milestone for both the club and Aussie Rules in the United Kingdom.

Women’s Competition

With just three universities competing in the women’s competition this year, the results of the round robin would determine the victor in a Premier League style format, making every match-up extremely high stakes.

The day commenced with the reignition of the age-old rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge. Reigning champion, Cambridge, was hoping to mark its authority on the competition from the start but was stopped dead in its tracks and held scoreless by its bitter rival. After a nervous opening half, Oxford, under the tutelage of its new coach, former Brisbane Lions defender, Justin Clarke, pulled itself together and started the day with a win.

Birmingham university was perhaps the surprise of the women’s competition, coming into the day with some new team members set to make not only their Fitzpatrick Cup debut but Australian Rules Football debut. Despite the team’s lack of experience, it was the most ferocious of the three teams, losing honourably to a red-hot Oxford before resoundingly defeating Cambridge, leaving the 2020 champs shellshocked.

Ultimately, Oxford’s on-field organisation and squad depth made it too strong for its competitors, winning all its matchups on route to being crowned 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup champions for the women’s competition. A deserving win and a terrific comeback after the heartbreak of 2020, where it lost on the final kick of the day in-front of its home fans. With Justin Clarke at the helm and following an undefeated Fitz Cup run, expect Oxford to be the team to beat throughout 2022.

Second place Birmingham will take plenty of positives away from its 2022 Fitz Cup, getting valuable game-time into some first-time footballers and earning a first win of 2022 against Cambridge – a team which has been a perennial force in European university Aussie rules for years.

It is perhaps that same perennial force which will feel most disappointed after the 2022 Fitz Cup, going winless across the entirety of the tournament. However, as its side was largely depleted due to European AFL trials, don’t expect Cambridge to be down for long. With a varsity match against Oxford on the horizon next month, the 2020 champs will be eager to bounce back.

Men’s Competition

Round robin stages

With five teams in the men’s tournament, a round robin would decide the two universities that would meet in the Grand Final and which of the remaining sides would clash in the third-place playoff.

With an enormous squad and a wealth of experience, Oxford looked to be the strongest outfit as the day commenced and started it’s 2022 campaign with a dramatic one-point victory over Birmingham.

Birmingham’s inconsistency proved to be its Achilles heel, serving up an inspired effort in an honourable loss against competition favourites Oxford and an imperious display in a resounding win over Cardiff, before suffering a surprise defeat to an undercooked Cambridge.

Despite the victory against Birmingham, Cambridge struggled throughout the day, losing all its remaining matches. With Cambridge lacklustre and Birmingham up-and-down, it appeared Oxford was set to cruise to victory and become dual champions across both the men’s and women’s competitions.

Then tournament debutants QUB stepped into the fray.

The boys from Belfast said they didn’t know what to expect ahead of the competition and honestly, nobody knew what to expect from them either. Based off QUB’s display, it would be wise for the rest of the competition to hire some scouts in future to ensure no more surprises next year. QUB’s big frames and fiery team spirit fuelled the Northern Irish past all its competition in the round robin, including Oxford, and it finished on top of the table, booking itself a ticket to the Grand Final in the afternoon.

As for the tournament hosts, Cardiff Met, the South Walians were unable to pull themselves off the bottom of the table but did earn a first victory in over two years in an inspired effort against Cambridge, leading to some of the biggest celebrations of the day.

With some much-needed experience against high level competition and a win on home soil, the Cardiff lads should be proud of their efforts, and are to be commended for the way in which they hosted the day and carried themselves with such dignity and fighting-spirit.

Finals

Birmingham and Cambridge met in a rematch for third place, with Birmingham out for redemption against a side which cost it a potential Grand Final birth. Cambridge started strong and appeared to have Birmingham’s measure, but the men from the midlands refused to be denied a top three finish and stormed home to a resounding win. The final score was: Birmingham 5.4. (34) def. Cambridge 1.2 (8)

The men’s Grand Final was the highlight of the day and the quality of football on display exemplified how far footy has come across European universities. Impossible dribble kick goals, some big grabs and a couple of bone-crunching tackles perfectly personified the bitter affair between Oxford and QUB. QUB, seeking a debut victory and a true fairy-tale run, got itself out to an early lead. However, Oxford, hungry to finally take home a men’s Fitz Cup in its seventh attempt, wasn’t going down without a fight and clawed its way back into the contest. In the end, the underdog wasn’t to be denied and QUB emerged victorious and promptly treated spectators to a rousing rendition of “she’s a maniac” as it celebrated being crowned champions in its first ever Fitzpatrick Cup. The final score was: QUB 5.2 (32) def. Oxford 2.2 (14)

Final Results

Women’s competition

  1. Oxford
  2. Birmingham
  3. Cambridge

Men’s competition

  1. QUB
  2. Oxford
  3. Birmingham
  4. Cambridge
  5. Cardiff

Individual awards

Women’s competition best players

Oxford – Clara Casabr

Birmingham – Gillian Angliss

Cambridge – Sarah O’Sullivan

Men’s competition best players

QUB – James Dally

Oxford – Dexter Chiew & Tim Haskett

Birmingham – Ben Kinnear

Cambridge – Joe Lillis

Cardiff – Matthew Morris

Women’s player of the tournament

Clara Casabr – Oxford

Men’s player of the tournament

James Dally – QUB

Umpire of the tournament

Ian Kafka

A huge thank you to all our umpires, pitch managers, physios, photographers, videographers, coaches and players for contributing to a fantastic tournament and a grand return to AFL Europe competition. To see the Fitzpatrick Cup back in action after such a long break and kick off our 2022 events so successfully is a testimony to the hard work and support of so many incredible people.

A special thanks to AFL England and Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan and its president, Conor Cronnin, for being such welcoming hosts. We can’t wait to see everyone back next year!

Photo and video content from the day can be found across our website and social media, links below.

 

Joseph Arthur – AFL Europe

Fitzpatrick Cup 2022: Tournament Preview

A return of the Fitzpatrick Cup is on the horizon with eight teams from five different universities set to descend upon Cardiff this weekend for what will be the eighth instalment of the AFL Europe universities tournament.

This edition of the tournament will play host to many great storylines. Namely, the age-old rivalry between Cambridge and Oxford universities will be renewed, with Cambridge’s women’s team looking to defend its 2020 Fitzpatrick Cup victory and go back-to-back.

Cambridge’s club committee said, “We had an extraordinary victory in the women’s tournament two years ago in Oxford, so we are hoping we can defend our title in Cardiff this year. On the men’s side, we are hoping to build on our good early-season NUL form and be competitive in the later stages of the Fitz Cup.”

Henry West, Oxford’s club president, said, “We always go into a single day competition with the goal of winning but it’s also important to have as much fun as a squad as possible.”

“We loved the Manchester Cup experience and think we can improve our performances to be two very competitive teams for the Fitzpatrick Cup. Wins for both the men’s and women’s sides are obviously what we are after.”

However, the two tournament stalwarts will have plenty of competition this year, with both University of Birmingham and Cardiff Metropolitan returning to the tournament.

Birmingham’s James Scott-Stacey said of his club’s men’s and women’s sides, “We’re a group with a lot of chemistry, making game play between us very smooth – you can’t teach a connection like ours.”

With UCC dominating the event in previous years, Birmingham is the only past Fitz Cup victor in the men’s side of the draw, going back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. It’s every chance to be the team to beat.

Cardiff Met’s coach, Conor Neesan, was equally stirring when he shared some fiery words for the tournament’s big names.

He said, “The key strength of the team is undoubtedly our determination, we are a small fish in a big pond, but we will always compete and put it up against Oxford and Cambridge with relentless tackling and strong defensive play. Our strengths will go a long way towards helping us against their experience and knowledge of the game.”

Expect to see a big statement made from the home side in just its second Fitz Cup.

Queens University Belfast will also be present in Cardiff, tackling the Fitzpatrick Cup for the first time with its brand-new men’s team.

Despite being the only Fitzpatrick Cup first-timer, QUB’s coach, Gerard Walls, said his side fears nobody.

“I think every player likes winning and this current playing group will be no different, so we will have a good crack at it and see how far we can go,” he said.

With a mix of old and fresh faces, experienced veterans and Fitz Cup rookies, expect to see a high standard of football on display across both the men’s and women’s competitions.

Overall, there will be five men’s teams and three women’s teams in the respective draws. Each of Cambridge, Oxford and Birmingham will have teams in both competitions, while Cardiff Met and Queens University Belfast will be bringing along their men’s sides in the hopes of adding women’s teams to the tournament ahead of 2023.

Previous winners: 

Men’s:

2015 – Birmingham

2016 – Birmingham

2017 – UCC1

2018 – UCC1

2019 – UCC1

2020 – UCC1

Women’s:

2017 – UCC

2018 – UCC

2019 – UCC

2020 – Cambridge University

Tournament details:

Saturday, 5th February 2022

The Harlequin Playing Fields, Minister Road, Cardiff

CF23 5AS

 

Joseph Arthur – AFL Europe

Euro Cup is back! International tournament to return in June

AFL Europe is excited to announce the return of Euro Cup – one of AFL Europe’s biggest international events on the calendar!

The major 9-a-side competition will return for the first time since 2019 and will be hosted in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 18th.

Once again, there will be both a men’s and women’s competition, and we expect to see the largest number of countries participating in Euro Cup history.

Speaking on the opportunity to host, AFL Scotland said, “Australian football is a minority sport with a growing presence in the country.”

“This will be an opportunity to help grow a sport which already attracts members from various different backgrounds and help showcase the men’s and women’s national teams.”

The tournament will see European nations compete in group stages before moving on to knock-out competition, where eventual victors will be determined.

The Euro Cup presents an amazing opportunity for European footballers to represent their home countries in official competition.

With England and Ireland the current champions in the men’s and women’s divisions respectively, we can’t wait to once again see national sides face off to contest for the title of champions of Europe in this annual 9-a-side tournament.

If you’re interested in umpiring at the 2022 Euro Cup, please register your interest here.

Tournament details:

Saturday, June 18th 2022

Edinburgh Leisure, Edinburgh, Scotland

More information about the tournament can be found here.

Fitzpatrick Cup 2022 Team Previews: Queens University Belfast

2022 will see a grand return of the Fitzpatrick Cup after a year on the sidelines and a fresh crop of formidable European University AFL teams is ready to clash in Cardiff on February 5. Joining the fray for the first time will be Queens University Belfast, fresh off Northern Ireland becoming its own AFL Europe affiliate. QUB will bring with it just the one men’s team and coach, Gerard Walls, offers his thoughts ahead of his sides inaugural Fitz Cup trip below.

What has the last year looked like for QUB? 

The Queens University Belfast (QUB) AFL club is in its inaugural year. The club came about as a couple of the students, most namely Ultan Clancy, had started playing footy with an Ulster based club – Belfast Redbacks – and took it upon themselves to bring Aussie Rules to the university.

The first year really was more about seeking ratification from the Students Union to be officially recognised as one of the university’s Sports and Social Clubs, all that has been ratified and the Students Union has been great in supporting the club so far.

Alongside that it has been about player recruitment, setting up regular trainings and looking to put games in place. We were lucky enough that in 2021, AFL Northern Ireland gained affiliated status with AFL Europe and established a Northern Ireland based AFL League with QUB invited to partake.

As with any first- year club, we are still trying to establish ourselves and grow the sport within the uni. With regular competition, regular training and the support of the uni we hope to keep developing and hopefully, this time next year, we will be in a position to field both a men’s and women’s team and looking to compete for and win the AFL Northern Ireland Premiership and Fitzpatrick Cup. 

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

As a new, developing team, we aren’t in a position to field a full 16- player travelling man squad, so have invited some Irish students from Manchester Metropolitan University and UCC to play with us in the Fitz Cup. From that perspective it’s great for the team and university to build those connections and friendships and hopefully we can make some good footy memories together. 

From a players perspective, I think every player likes winning and this current playing group will be no different, so we will have a good crack at it and see how far we can go. 

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

There’s still a bit of travelling for the Northern Irish and Irish based lads, but logistics have worked out ok so far, it does make a difference though, to have the competition close to a large airport and a city with good transport links.

Any young stars to keep our eye on? 

To be honest there’s talent right across the squad, from a QUB student perspective we have a couple of first year players in Robin Cunningham and Jason Brown who had never touched a footy until a couple of months ago. We have another two stand out players in Kevin McDonnell and Ultan Clancy. Kevin, although in his early twentiess, has been on the footy scene in Ireland for some 5 years-plus now with the Galway Magpies and Ultan just completed his first full season with the Belfast Redbacks. Both men got selected and played for the Ulster Wolfhounds that won the Clover Cup in Belfast in October 2021.

Overall, we have some great talent right across the team and we approach the tournament with a team first mentality. 

What’s the key strength of the team?

Knowing the lads, a strength of the team will be a willingness to compete and win and work hard for each other, we do have some key players who can play in key positions, and we also have leaders all over the field – expect some fast-paced pressure footy from us. 

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?

I have been coaching the team this year for our regular Thursday night sessions at QUB, on the day however, one of our QUB alumni members, Declan McClements, will be taking up a player-coach role. We also have Kevin McDonnell who can take up the role alongside Declan; both bring years of footy experience with them and will be great to play for.   

The 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup will take place on Saturday February 5 at St Peter’s Rugby Club – The Harlequins Playing Fields, Minister Road, Cardiff, CF23 5AS.