The 2016 edition of the Euro Cup was held in sunny Lisbon on the 8th October. With 374 players in action across 22 teams from 16 countries it was always going to be a huge day of Aussie Rules.
The National Stadium Jamor in Lisbon played host to the tournament with three pitches in perfect condition being used for the 9-a-side competition. Games kicked off bright and early at 9am with the pool stages allowing teams to jostle for position and qualify for the divisional finals.
The Pool Stages
Croatia and Germany were the early standouts with some dominant displays of Aussie Rules. The usual powerhouses of Ireland and England were clinical as ever and cruised through their initial exchanges. The final standings were as follows:
- Jerusalem Peace Team Lions
First place in each pool went through to the Cup semi-finals and were in with a shot to be crowned Euro Cup Champions. Second place in each pool qualified for the Bowl finals and third and fourth place battled it out for the right to be crowned Plate winners.
On the women’s side of the draw it was a two pool competition. Fierce rivals, England and Ireland were drawn into same pool and reignited their recent battles early on with a hard fought group stage victory going in favour of the girls in green. A three team Pool B had another big clash as the Swedish and Danish locked horns in what was a thriller. The final group standings were as follows:
The top two teams from each Pool went through to the semi-finals while third place qualified for the 5th place playoff.
In the Plate Division it was the Dutch and Austrians who won through to the much coveted final. The Dutch had a fiery hit-out against the Italians to give themselves a chance to retain their 2015 title while the Austrians accounted for the Norway Trolls to show how much they’ve improved in recent years.
It was a tight contest early with neither side hitting the scoreboard until the 6-minute mark of the first half when the Flying Dutchmen opened their account. They slotted back-to-back goals and jumped out to a 16 to zip lead at half-time. When the Dutch opened the scoring in the second half it was always going to be a tough ask for the Austrians. The Avalanches could only manage the solitary goal as the Dutch proved too strong in a game highlighted by its tight and physical clashes amongst players. For the second year in a row the Dutch were crowned Plate winners at the Euro Cup. The final score 35-8.
The second-tier Bowl Division final was contested between Wales and France. Both sides were incredibly exciting to watch in the Pool stages and were hoping to add some silverware to the trophy cabinet after a long, hot day of footy.
Wales jumped out of the blocks early to score the first goal of the game into what was a growing breeze. It didn’t take long for France to counter and they got back-to-back goals to take a 5-point lead into half-time. The French were elite with their foot skills and made the Welsh pay kicking out to a handy lead early in the second half. The lead proved enough for France as they held on for a memorable victory in a fast paced game. The final score 27-16.
It was two old foes going head-to-head again in the Women’s Final. England and Ireland had proved that they were the two best teams throughout the day and were pumped up for another highly anticipated encounter on the main stage.
In typical fashion it was a hard-fought first half between the two sides, neither giving an inch or taking a backward step with their attack on the football. This was reflected in the 1-0 score line in favour of the English at half-time.
The second half opened up with England capitalising on their chances when attacking into the breeze to go 7-points up. The Irish didn’t take long to reply and again we were in for another thriller. From nowhere the Irish grabbed another goal in what proved to be the match winner with the crowd erupting. The final few minutes can only be described as complete mayhem. When the final siren sounded three players were laying on the ground injured and seeking medical attention as the remaining Irish players were embracing in jubilation. Full credit to both sides for again putting an amazing display of women’s footy. The final score 16-7.
The Men’s Final pitted a massive Croatian side against a quick and agile Irish team. Under a setting sun and a growing crowd this was going to be one to remember, and it didn’t disappoint.
The breeze had picked up and the big kicking Croatians used it perfectly in the first half. They kicked two goals back-to-back within the couple of minutes to jump out to an early lead. The first half went all in the Croatians favour and some big hits highlighted their intent on claiming their second Euro Cup title. They went into the main break with a 20-point lead. The Irish opened scoring after the break but the Croatians were quick to reply. Neither side were giving up an inch but it was the Irish who were making their mark on the scoreboard. A frantic final few minutes’ left everyone at the ground perplexed as neither side celebrated as the final siren sounded. It was a draw, 35-points apiece, you couldn’t write a better script.
Extra-time was to be played with 5-minutes each way. The Croatians clicked into another gear and didn’t give the Irish a chance. Their bigger bodies had worn down the Irish and when Croatian Captain, Tomislav Cvetko, went back and goaled late in the second half of extra time it was all but over. The Croatian bench stormed the field in celebration as they were crowned Euro Cup Champions of 2016. The final score was 53-39.
A massive thank you needs to go out to Antonio da Cunha and his team at Move Sports for helping us make Euro Cup in Lisbon come together. Thank you to the umpire squad led by Shane Hill, our volunteers led by pitch managers Fanny Maillett, Laura Pinckney and Hayley Canton, as well as BarTV Sports for providing a first-class live stream of the tournament.
The tournament was played in the right spirit and showcased the amazing footballing community Europe has on offer. Thank you to everyone involved in making this great event so special and we’ll see you all again at the 2017 edition of the Euro Cup.