With less than 24 hours to go until the Euro Cup, the excitement and anticipation is building for the 16 countries that will venture out to our new location in Kiel, Germany, vying for the opportunity of becoming the best country in Europe at Australian Rules Football. In an extraordinary story that will play out across the day, two countries will be looking for a four-peat – an unprecedented feat that may never be seen again. The Irish Banshees, dominant in the grand final last year, will be vying for glory again, but there will be nine other sides hungry to stop them in their tracks. In the men’s side of the draw, the England Dragonslayers will be desperate to repeat their last three contests at the Euro Cup, but 14 determined countries will be fighting for a change at the top.
As is the common approach for AFL Europe’s biggest tournaments, we love to get an insight into the build-up and preparation for the teams competing, as well as the history of these sides, and we continue our team previews with the two English sides – Dragons and Vixens and the European Crusaders.
England Dragons (Men) and England Vixens (Women)
Both English sides have seen great success at past Euro Cup competitions. The Men, as mentioned above, will be eyeing off a four-peat, whilst the Women’s side will be desperate to make amends for last years runners up performance and win their first Euro Cup since 2017. Both teams were straight forward in their comments to AFL Europe, just hoping to play the best footy they can and to enjoy the experience in a new country. With a dominant history at this tournament, will a new venue allow the sides to retain or regain their positions at the top? We will find out in under 24 hours time.
With a small unit of footballers in the Netherlands, it has taken a great deal of work to get a Dutch side to travel to Kiel. Team Manager/player Ilse Bot was close to forfeiting, before the idea of a team of Dutch, Danish and Czech residents came to mind. With the team not having training sessions together, and still getting to know each others skills and gameplay the day will be a learning experience for all. Although coming into Kiel as underdogs, Ilse spoke of the desire to ‘surprise some other teams with our Dutch/Danish/Czech talents’.
- Sam Briggs, AFL Europe