Champions League Team Previews

In the lead-up to the 3rd annual AFL Europe Champions League, hosted by AFL Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday 1st April, we’ll be taking a quick look at the teams who’ve qualified for the premier club tournament held in Europe.

Next up we have the undefeated 2016 AFL London women’s premiers, the Wimbledon Hawkettes, the Paris Cockatoos, the Zagreb Dockers, the Sussex Swans & the ARFLI Champions, the Leeside Lions.

Wimbledon Hawkettes

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season!

The Wimbledon Hawkettes were undefeated in the London league in 2016, winning the Grand Final against the North London Lions​. We were consistent on the field throughout the season, using our midfield pressure to push the ball forward, and shutting down the opposition when they came into our end. We also had the honour of being the only London team to have two of our forward line players drafted into the AFLW this season (Don’t worry, they won’t be kicking goals for us in this tournament!).

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

We recently started our pre-season training and many of the girls are looking fast after a productive off-season! We train with our men’s team so have been getting plenty of experience going up against rough opponents, and fighting for every contested footy. The weather in England has been all over the place as well, so we will be ready to play in whatever the Amsterdam skies want to throw at us.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

 Ideally to take home the flag, as with any competition the Hawkettes always step onto the field wanting to win! Off the field though, I think the ladies will be looking to have fun and make footy contacts across Europe. We are bringing a big team to Amsterdam as this tournament is also our pre-season tour, and I think we’d like to share how we are growing the sport in London. Tournaments are a great place to recruit new players who come down to watch, and the surest way to keep that going is by putting on an exciting competition and ​following it up with a memorable afterparty.

Player to watch?

Midfielder Chloe Ong​ – Recruited from the sidelines, Chloe spends the Aussie Rules off-season playing football (soccer) in London. She has a great mix of speed and stamina which means she puts a formidable amount of pressure onto her opponents and keeps the footy moving into the forward line.

Paris Cockatoos

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season!

The Cockatoos are the newest team in the Paris Cocks franchise. The team was created for the 2016 season as we had too much players for just one men’s team. The team did amazingly well last season only losing two games in the regular season. They beat the Cockerels in the semi-finals (very tough and emotional game cause both team are from the club). In the Grand Final they beat the Coyotes in the last quarter. This was by far the toughest game of the season with all the Cockerelles and Cockerels cheering like crazy when they brought the trophy back to Paris!

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

The French Championship is running from September to end of April so the Cockatoos are training twice a week and playing a game pretty much every two weeks. We are definitely ready for the Champions League!

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

 We basically approach every game with the expectation of winning so we definitely have our eyes on making the final four. As a team we’re hitting some really good formats we’re bringing a lot of depth so there’s no reason why we can’t challenge the really good teams.

Player to watch?

A couple of our local products are worth looking out for. Julian Dagois and Clement Dony have had really consistent seasons are playing great footy. Jacob Raiwalui is a really exciting talent so it will be fun to cut the big boy loose against quality opposition. Also a couple of our old blokes have wound the clock back this season which has been fun to watch.

Zagreb Dockers

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season!

We qualified for the 2017 Champions League by becoming champions of Croatia in 2016. The Croatian league of Australian football includes 6 clubs and it lasts from April till October. We were favorites to win the title being the reigning champions from 2015. Also, our squad is very strong and experienced. In the regular part of the competition we finished second but in playoffs we won all games and managed to defend the title, becoming champions for two years in a row.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

The preparation for the Champions League started two months ago. It was very cold in Zagreb so we were training indoors. We will play in the Croatian Cup, so we will have a few matches before coming to Amsterdam.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

Our expectations for the Champions League are to be better than last year when we finished in 9th place. This year we are coming with a full squad and we hope to be at least second in a group. There are no Australians in our team so this is a great opportunity for our players to grow and learn.

Player to watch?

Player to watch is definitely the Captain of Croatian national team, Tomislav Cvetko. He was elected as Best and Fairest of Croatian League in 2016. Tomislav is soon to leave for Australia to play footy there. No doubt he is a star but our team is a compact unit with a lot of talented players and some of them will hopefully be a pleasant surprise at 2017 Champions League.

Sussex Swans

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season!

Under the leadership of Will Mclean, Sussex Swans grew their numbers significantly in 2016, with most non-Australian first time players. Going into their first game of the Southern England Australian Football League, the Swans suffered a loss against Southampton Titans – fortunately, this would be their last loss of the season. The final game of the season was played against Surrey Stags at the Swans’ home ground in Brighton. The passion and energy of the 2016 new recruits provided Will with enough confidence to put out a rookie team against the much more experienced Stags. The Swans took their eleventh win and the title of 2016 SEAFL Premiers.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

Having committed to the 2017 Champions League in December of last year, the Sussex Swans returned back to skills-training on the first Saturday of January and every subsequent week since, training through rain, sleet and snow. The weather isn’t the only brutal elements the Swans have faced, with a new mid-week HIIT training session leaving the 2017 players fitter, stronger and faster than ever before. Word has spread about the Swans’ hard training and dedication with a strong increase in membership – the Swan’s even welcomed their first ladies players to training in March.

What are your teams expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

 The Sussex Swans haven’t trained all through winter with the expectation that winning is not a possibility. This may be the Sussex Swans’ first challenge at the Champions League title, but that doesn’t mean that they are a team to be taken lightly. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is!

Player to watch?

Boo. One to both watch and hear.

 

 Leeside Lions

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

Having not won the flag since 2007 and not appearing in a grand final since 2011, the Leeside Lions were perennial underachievers in recent times. 2016 saw a great mix of youth and experience in the Lions ranks as there was great numbers crossed over for the summer period from our sister Uni club, the UCC Bombers. There was a great buzz at trainings and games and we knew 2016 had the potential to be our year. The ARFLI season is played on a carnival basis with each team playing two league games on the same day. The Leeside Lions won the 2016 ARFLI flag on the back of an unprecedented unbeaten season winning 9 from 9 culminating with the defeat of the highly-experienced Belfast Redbacks by double scores, 104-52 on home soil.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

Preparations have been going well, the Lions are training with the UCC Bombers at the moment, recent Fitzpatrick Cup winners. This allows us to challenge ourselves against quality opposition on a weekly basis with great playing numbers. We were also delighted to host the North London Lions for a pre-season game on Saturday 11th March, this was a tough and fair contest but it certainly was very beneficial to both teams with our North London counterparts preparing for their AFL London season and us for the AFL Europe Champions league with the final score as follows:

Leeside Lions 10.8 (68) North London Lions 6.9 (45).

What are your teams expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

 The Champions League is unknown territory to us but its something we’re very excited about. There is no point entering a tournament unless you want to win it and I think that’s our mantra for Amsterdam. We’re going to go, enjoy the experience, play as good footy as we can and hopefully that will take us to the latter stages of the comp.

Player to watch?

This is a difficult one as we have guys with plenty of international 9s experience as well as some older club stalwarts and the influx of youth from the UCC Bombers. Players like Paul Murphy and Padraic O’Connell will certainly be players to watch as they are part of the Irish Warriors squad for the upcoming IC17. You have experience with the likes of Eoin O’Sullivan and Cian Quigley who have literary won everything there is to win in the game. For 9s you are looking for the team to perform as a cohesive unit and that’s our aim, no individual players, just one team.

 

Champions League Team Previews

In the lead-up to the 3rd annual AFL Europe Champions League, hosted by AFL Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday 1st April, we’ll be taking a quick look at the teams who’ve qualified for the premier club tournament held in Europe.

First up we have reigning men’s champions and AFL London premiers, West London Wildcats, the Paris Cockerelles, last year’s beaten finalists, the Manchester Mozzies, the DAFL’s, Farum Cats, and Austria’s standalone side, the Styrian DownunderDogs.

 West London Wildcats

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season!

We qualified for the 2017 Champions League by winning the 2016 version and by winning the AFL London 2016 Premiership Division.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

It’s been a tough preparation with so much turnover once again but it’s been great to see those from last year stepping up a gear knowing there is no resting on our laurels and to see some fresh faces come into the group with endeavour to propel the club forward in 2017.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League? 

As with anything we participate in we look to come away with the chocolates at the end of the day but we expect to face strong competition from all teams like it has been in the past 2 tournaments

Player to watch?

Mike Gregson – One of our Kiwi contingency who has showed plenty of opposition Aussies how it’s done in 2016.

Paris Cockerelles

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

We don’t have a women’s Championship in France yet. We organize friendly mixed games and few women’s games. So, the team that will be competing at the 2017 Champions League will be composed of girls from all over France (Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Paris) and will play under the Paris Cockerelles colours. Why the Cockerelles? Because it is the closest team to have a full team!

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

We have been playing friendly mixed games in closing of the men’s championship matches. Also, we invited the North London Lions last weekend to launch the Coupe Gallia, the first only female French competition. The Cockerelles have ended it as the winners of this first edition.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

We hope to do our best to go as far as possible, our goal would be to be in the Top 3, and why not even better!

Player to watch?

Coline Duquet, Camille Portal, Claire Pérez, Myriam Allali and Emilie Giancarli.

Manchester Mosquitoes

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

We qualified for this year’s Champions League by winning the AFL CNE Premiership. We went through the season undefeated and it was also our 3rd premiership in a row, which capped off our tenth season anniversary celebrations nicely!

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

We have been training together since late January. With a new coach at the helm, and new players joining the club it has been as much about welcoming everyone and getting to know each other’s game as it has been working on our fitness and match strategy.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

Having been runners up last year, we, (like no doubt all other teams), want to win the tournament. The Wildcats will again be the team to beat but saying that, all other teams are there because they are high quality and on their day, capable of winning it. Playing in the tournament is a great challenge and provides our players with great experience to take back for our domestic season and also for our players picked for IC17 teams.

Player to watch?

Chris Britton, he has been training the house down. He has a big year coming up and and the champions league is his first stop. A seasoned campaigner now, expect him to be leading from the front when our first game kicks off.

Farum Cats

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

Well in 2016 we won our league (DAFL) with the Farum Cats, the team in Denmark with the most premierships in history. It was a good season, with a lot of victories and a few loses, all culminating in the grand finale against our arch rivals, The Copenhagen Barracudas.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

The training for the Champions League has been hard work from the moment we got the opportunity to play in it. We have spent a lot of time in the gym, getting in shape for the games as well as indoor training sessions with focus on skills. Players have been encouraged to look at some of the teams that compete in the tournament, trying to learn what they did, and to get a better understanding of the competition.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

We are a young team with only 2-3 players who have been in the Champions League before. But nevertheless, we’ve got at strong base, a high skill level and a lot of experience playing footy, so I thing we got a good chance of winning it.

Player to watch?

We’ve got a lot of stars on our team, like our unofficial captain Mathias Biron. He is one of the best back home, works so hard on and off the ball and always gives 100%. Another one to watch is William Andersen. He played for the Odense Lions last year, a fun player to watch with great skills. He may not be as physical as other players, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, ball handling and kicking. Our newest member of our club is Oliver De Stobbeleir, a young gun, with roots in soccer, is playing in the heart of the defense. He’s a strong guy in the backline, not shy for some physical football. The last player to watch would be Mikkel Kjøge, one of the many stars from the 95’ generation. He has recently returned from a stay down under, where he played a high level of footy. A complete player in my eyes. Great speed, great marks, great kicks.

Styrian DownunderDogs

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

We are the sole footy team in Austria so it was easy to win the Austrian title again 🙂

Actually, we’re playing in the CEAFL (Central European AFL) with teams from Croatia and a team from Prague and although we’re a quite small country in terms of footy history and background, we did quite well in this tournament. This reason together with the fact, that we’re celebrating the 10th birthday of our club this year made us ask for a wildcard in the Champions League so we can start our celebrations with this sportive highlight.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

We started our training sessions about 1 month ago. Doing outside training sessions at this time of the year is not easy because all the soccer fields are closed and the parks were still covered with snow and ice in the first weeks. We also have a problem with injuries since some our most important players are injured since the last Euro Cup and some of them will not be able to attend at the CL.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

Since we will attend the first time, we don’t know if we have a chance to win a single game, but we hope that we can play against many teams, that we haven’t played so far and we can see new tactics, styles of playing and new approaches and that we can learn from them.

Player to watch?

Andreas Jauk played a fantastic tournament at the Euro Cup last year and he is again in pretty good shape. He will be our defensive rock in Amsterdam and I’m sure he will be in the center point of many game situations.

 

 

96th Varsity Match – Cambridge v Oxford

Saturday March 11th will see a contingent of Cambridge women take to the pitch for the first time at midday at Newnham College Sports Ground, and (in a twist on Varsity) combine forces with Oxford women’s team to play against the London based, Wandsworth Demons women’s team.

 Last year’s exhibition game between Oxford and the University of Birmingham

The 97th Aussie Rules men’s Varsity match, first played in 1911, will take place at 2pm at St John’s playing fields, the traditional Varsity home ground for Cambridge. A heavier than expected player turnover has caused a few headaches for Cambridge men’s team but they remain upbeat about wrestling the Varsity Cup back after Oxford’s narrow victory last year at their home ground. As always, the match will be a hard fought contest and with some exciting new additions to both teams thrown into the mix, it will be a great game to watch.

Come down and support the Aussie Rules inaugural Women’s game in Cambridge, then stay on for the Men’s game as Cambridge and Oxford battle it out to become the 2017 Varsity champions!

Last year’s varsity game came down to the final kick of the game.

By David Sykes

 

Fitzpatrick Cup 2017 – Review

A last-minute pitch change and some early rain didn’t deter participants at the weekends annual Fitzpatrick Cup hosted by the University College Cork (UCC).

With 8 men’s and 3 women’s teams in action it was always going to be a great day of Aussie Rules action.

Despite the muddy pitches, Group A got off to a flying start with UCC 1 and Irish Uni’s claiming early victories. Group B started in similar fashion with Oxford 1 and Mixed ARFLI showing their class.

Mixed ARFLI went through the Group stages undefeated but were unable to progress as they were acting as a top-up team after a disappointing late withdrawal from reigning champions, University of Birmingham.

The standings following the Group stages:

Group A
Team PlayedWinLossDrawPointsForAgainstPercentage
UCC 133001215218844.44
Irish Uni’s321088459142.37
Cambridge31204378344.58
Oxford 23030091227.38
Group B
Team PlayedWinLossDrawPointsForAgainstPercentage
Mixed ARFLI33001212937348.65
UCC 2321087973108.22
Oxford 131204478257.32
Maynooth30300349735.05

 

The women’s competition was hotly contested with Maynooth claiming two early victories to sit atop of the table following the Group stages. They were closing matched-up with UCC and were scheduled to play in the grand final later in the afternoon after finishing second.

The standings following the Group stages:

Women
Team PlayedWinLossDrawPointsForAgainstPercentage
Maynooth220084614328.57
UCC21100161984.21
Oxford20200154434.09

The Men’s semi-finals pitted UCC 1 against Oxford 1 and Mixed Uni’s against UCC 2 to determine who would be playing off in the Grand Final.

UCC 1 lifted another level to easily account for a valiant Oxford 1 outfit with the final score reading 77 to 12.

The other semi-final went down to the wire with UCC 2 eventually getting over the line in a 1-point thriller. Final score in that game read 24 to 23.

The women’s final was between Maynooth and UCC after they finished in the top 2 of the division. Only 4-points separated these two teams in the Group stages and with Irish Banshees Head Coach, Pat Leavy watching from the side-lines it was always going to be a tight contest.

The first half proved just that with possession hotly contested and the scoreboard reflecting accordingly. UCC got the better of the second half and overran the previously undefeated Maynooth women claiming the Fitzpatrick Cup with a score line of 30 to 8.

It was destined to be a UCC clean sweep of the Fitzpatrick Cup but it was yet to be decided which men’s team was going to take the spoils. UCC 2 were the obvious underdogs but the chance to knock off their older rivals in UCC 1 meant that they were primed and ready to go.

The first half was a thriller with both teams putting it all on the line. A couple of quick goals got UCC 1 out to a 3-goal lead going into half-time. UCC 2 scored the first goal of the second half and the crowd was calling for an upset.

The more experienced heads of the UCC 1 boys proved too much to overcome for the 2s with some late goals blowing out the score line, 50 to 14. A well-deserved clean sweep for all involved at the UCC Aussie Rules program.

Special congratulation to John Enright who came away with the Golden Whistle for his excellent performance both on the pitch but also off it for arranging the umpire squad and formalizing the umpiring appointments.

Player of the Tournament for the men went to Paul Murphy of UCC 1 which topped of a great week for him after being named in the first five Irish Warriors to be selected for the International Cup in August.

Best on Ground in the final for the women went to UCC’s Eimear Sexton for her ferocity around the contest throughout the entire game.

Extra special thanks to all the volunteers who assisted in putting on a fantastic day of football along with the organising committee at UCC for making sure the day ran smoothly.

The countdown to the Fitzpatrick Cup 2018 is on!

Women’s Champions – UCC Crusaders

Men’s Champions – UCC 1 

For more event photos jump click through the following links

https://www.facebook.com/pg/AFL.Europe.Ltd/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1393565570663928

https://www.facebook.com/pg/AFL.Europe.Ltd/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1393598833993935

 

Fitzpatrick Cup Live Stream

To watch the 2017 Fitzpatrick Cup Live by clicking HERE!

The full schedule of Live Games is as follows.

Schedule
11:00 UCC Bombers 1 v Oxford University 2
11:30 Irish Students v Cambridge University
12:00 Oxford University 1 v ARFLI Selection
12:30 Maynooth University Power v UCC Bombers 2
13:00 UCC Crusaders v Maynooth University
13:30 UCC Bombers 1 v Irish Students
14:00 UCC Crusaders v Oxford University
14:30 Ranking Game
15:00 Mens Semi Final
15:30 Women’s Final
16:00 Men’s Final

Fitzpatrick Cup – Tournament Preview

The Fitzpatrick Cup is upon us. Tomorrow is the day a new universities champion will be crowned for both the men’s and women’s divisions.

Heavy rainfall wreaked havoc on the UCC grounds earlier in the week but with sunshine and a balmy 6 degrees forecast for tomorrow we’ll be expecting fast-paced action from the get go.

The day kicks off at 11am with three pitches in action throughout the day. The men’s division will be played off amongst 8 teams in 2 Groups.  The top two teams in each Group will progress to the semi-finals while the bottom two in each will battle it out for the minor placings. The Groups are as follows:

Group A:

  1. UCC 1
  2. Oxford 2
  3. Irish Uni’s
  4. Cambridge

Group B:

  1. Oxford 1
  2. Maynooth
  3. UCC 2
  4. Mixed ARFLI

The women’s division will consist of 3 teams, UCC, Maynooth and Oxford, with the top two progressing straight into the Grand Final at 3:30pm.

The full tournament fixture along with the live streaming link can be found on the AFL Europe website (afleurope.org).

On the eve of the Fitzpatrick Cup we caught up with tournament organiser, UCC Head Coach and all-round good bloke, Eoin O’Sullivan, for a quick chat.

How’s the tournament preparation coming together?

“Everything is looking good at this stage, a few hiccups here and there along the way, but it’s coming together well. Pitches are ready, players and umpires en route, it’s shaping up to be a great day’s footy. Just hope we get the weather to match!”

How are the teams shaping up?

“Well, I suppose we have home advantage so we’d hope to be strong around the ground. Our difficulty has been picking 16, our second squad is as strong as the first! But looking through the lists, the Mixed Uni team are very strong in every line, and Oxford have recently beaten Birmingham too, and are travelling strong, so they’ll be a serious outfit. I know the Maynooth lads have put in serious prep, and have a few tidy players in their list. Also, I’ve played against one or 2 of the Cambridge boys, they don’t miss, and in short games like this, accuracy is vital. So, it’s wide open really.”

Any players to keep an eye on?

“Singling out players is always difficult, giving them a tag is added pressure. I never had it when I played, and sure was class, but nobody knew! I’m sure these boys will love the limelight though, so I’ll drop a few names. UCC have 3 Jacks, 2 Oisin’s, 2 James’, and 2 Kev’s, they’ll surely produce something between them. Maynooth have Darragh O Morain, he’s bound to play well someday. Mixed Uni’s have Hally. That’s all that needs to be said on that. Cambridge have Mossy Harrington up top, the closest thing there is to a Buddy Franklin in Europe. And Oxford have Geoff Pascoe, a man that knows all the rules, and will surely push them to the limit for their cause.”

Who’s going to come away from Fitzpatrick Cup in 2017?

“Ah c’mon, you can’t ask me that! Having 2 dogs in the fight, I’d like to think that UCC can make it an all Cork Grand Final. No doubt the other boys will be out to stop that, but our boys are boasting a mix of youth, experience, National Team players and hardy b*****ds in both squads!”

Oxford University Team Preview – Fitzpatrick Cup 2017

In the lead up to the 2017 Fitzpatrick Cup to be held in Cork, Ireland on the 4th February we’ll be taking a look at each side attending the annual universities tournament. Next up in the previews is Oxford University.

Oxford will be a real contender in Cork. They’ve always be around the top at the Fitz and 2017 could be the year they go all the way.

What has happened since the last Fitzpatrick Cup?

Since last year’s competition in Birmingham, the Blues have had a successful year on the field, beating Cambridge in the Varsity Match. Facing tough matches against Birmingham and the West London Wildcats following last year’s cup, we fought the entire match against Cambridge to ensure a 58-52 victory with a game-winning smother of the Tab’s last shot at goal.

Fitzpatrick Cup history

We had a great tournament last year in Birmingham for the Fitzpatrick Cup, finishing third.  We brought a huge Oxford squad with mixed fresh faces and grizzled old timers.  We lost a close Semi final to the University of Cork.

Players to watch 

We’re looking forward to see which players step up and surprise our anxious competitors in the Cup.  Practices and early matches this season have shown us that we have new vocal leaders on the team.  Certainly, watch veterans like Irishman Tommy Griffin and the ubiquitous Geoff Pascoe.

So, who’s in charge?

Oliver Bartlett, a Brit in his 4th year at the club.

Interview with Daniel Tracey – Men’s Captain of the Oxford Blues

Aims for the tournament?

“We undoubtedly will enjoy playing the match in Cork, and get to know our fellow Irish lads.  However, we aim to improve on our third place finish in 2016.  We fought hard last year, and intend to bring the same intensity to the pitch.”

Which players have the X-factor?

“This year we have an incredibly deep bench, and everyone has contributed to make the season a strong one so far.  It’s hard to name individual players, but Tommy Griffin, Geoff Pascoe, Alex Coccia, and Ewan Selkirk have a the tendency to make quick and strong plays for the score.”

How have the preparations been going?

“We’ve got a lot of new players on the team, some new to the sport entirely, and others who have played before internationally.  Of course it is always a big job to build up the team but after three solid matches this autumn, we have many guys showing up and contributing.  We are fielding a very diverse team who are ready to build up even more.”

What are the main attributes of your team?

“We have solid 1 on 1 contests, and great team communication.  The attitude this year has been that everybody gives it a good go and tries hard.  We’ve got a few experienced players and many new players who are learning quickly.”