We have just nine days until the Euro Cup and 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 Austrian Avalanches, French Coqs and the Denmark Vikings.
The Austrian side have a rich history at the Euro Cup, competing for the 15th time in 2023. Labelling themselves as ‘the underdog’ of the competition, they frequently aim to be the surprise packet of the competition. With a strengthened team this year due to a number of Vienna Galah players taking their place in the side, the key aim for the Austrians is a ‘single digit finish’, something they have achieved several times in the past. One factor that may improve the sides chances is the growth of competition they are now playing in. Forming a league with the Budapest Bats and Prague Dragons for the upcoming 2023 season will mean the Avalanche team will face new competition on a regular basis, no doubt leading to improvement amongst all.
Similar to the Austrian’s, the French Coqs side have been in the cup since 2005, with their best finish in 2013 claiming the silver medal. The preparation for the Coqs team will be the ideal beginning in what marks their 16th attempt at claiming the Euro Cup, demolishing the Australian Spirit side in Villers Bretonneux in April. On top of this, they have organised a dedicated weekend of preparation two weeks out before the competition, with aims to ‘grow the team spirit, train playing footy together of course but enjoy and have some good fun as a team too’. With this sort of lead-up facing tough competition, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Coqs improve off last years efforts of seventh.
Albeit five years ago, the last time the Vikings attended the Euro Cup they came away champions. With a very different side than previous however, manager Morten Merhøj claimed that previous results ‘don’t really mean much’. Having that in mind, a training weekend before the Euro Cup where the national coach was able to gain a greater insight of what sort of side they would be, no doubt beneficial for all involved. Citing the inability to have ‘national team activity’ to prepare, and an increased competition than previous years, the Vikings aren’t as confident as they would like. Despite this, nobody knows what the day can bring, and the Denmark squad will be determined to match their victory in 2018, during this year’s edition.
- Sam Briggs, AFL Europe