2022 European Championships Tournament Review

Following four days of exceptional footy in Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb at the ZVG (Zagreb Footy Ground), it all game down to a big Saturday afternoon of grand finals. In the women’s GF, the reigning champion Irish Banshees clashed with the Swans of Great Britain, while the men’s big dance was played out between the Irish Warriors and French Coqs.

Before we dive into results, let’s review what built up to those two final clashes. The tournament commenced on Wednesday with clear skies and sunshine – a theme which persisted for the duration of the week. Despite the heat, the ZVG’s turf managed to hold up well for the duration of the event, a testament to the hard work of our Croatian volunteers.

Across the first two days of match-play, games were played in a carnival style format of 20-minute halves before moving on to full, four quarter 80-minute matches for finals across Friday and Saturday

For many squads, European Championships presented an opportunity for a rare foray into 18-a-side footy, moving away from the 9-a-side format often favoured across Europe. While for others, like team GB, they were hoping to capitalise on their superior 18s experience against teams still in their full-format infancy.

Pool Stages

The pool stages of the tournament saw the Croatian Queens make their EC debut, which was marked by a monumental win over the European Crusaders on day 2. The Crusaders themselves, made up largely of the French national team, put in an immensely impressive effort considering the challenges they faced putting a team together. However, unfortunately for the Crusaders, their defeat at the hands of the Queens and subsequent losses to the rest of the competition saw them bow out of the tournament after the second day.

In the men’s side of the competition, it was the German Eagles who went winless on the field and were subsequently eliminated, but they certainty won off the field. Despite struggling with their own play, the Eagles men’s side deserves a huge amount of credit for the way they supported their female counterparts during their finals campaign, as well as for the general encouragement and positive atmosphere they spread amongst the hundreds of fans in the stands.

Placing matches

Following the pool matches and semi finals, we were left with two sides from each division playing off for third place, and some highly sought-after silverware.

In the women’s, both the German Eagles and home-town Croatian Queens were defeated in their respective semi-finals, so a date to battle it out for third was set for Saturday morning.

The Croatian Queens had the home support behind them, however, the Eagles proved to be the side better prepared for the big occasion, jumping out to an early lead from which the Queens couldn’t recover. Despite a valiant effort from the hometown side to reel the Germans in, the deficit was too much and the Eagles won by a margin of 33 points, earning themselves a bronze medal. It was an incredible tournament for the Germans, who have improved leaps and bounds in recent years but credit must also go to the Queens, who just a matter of months ago were still trying to pull together a squad – we all have high hopes for the powerhouses these two young sides may have become ahead of EC25 in three years time.

In the men’s side of the tournament, it was the Croatian Knights who met the consecutive reigning champion GB Bulldogs in a battle for third.

The clash was by far the most physical of the tournament, as both sides possessed several big bodies who were unafraid of throwing their weight around. A raucous home crowd ensured the Knights pushed the Bulldogs all the way and were right in the game at half time, something many pundits didn’t expect.

In the second half however, the class and experience of the Bulldogs shone through as they proved too strong for the valiant Croatian side. In the end, the Bulldogs ran away with the victory by 57 points, ensuring that, although their streak of EC victories came to a close, they didn’t leave empty handed.

Grand Finals

The first three days of the tournament were action packed, with close contests, a number of upsets and plenty of fanfare but one theme persisted – Irish dominance.

The Irish Banshees put the women’s competition on notice right from the start, not conceding a single point throughout the pool stages, nor the semi-final. The GB Swans were similarly dominant throughout, baring their initial meeting with the Banshees where they were unable to score.

So, heading into the women’s grand final the Banshees were understandably favoured, though would have to deal with the weight of pressure – how you got to a grand final becomes irrelevant if you’re unable to finish it off.

Nerves appeared to have gotten to the Banshees, who were untidy in the early stages of the first term, but the Swans were unable to capitalise and when the tide turned, a green wave overcame GB and the Irish asserted their dominance. Proving themselves to be the best, the Banshees went on to win comfortably, the British however, will take great pride in not only scoring against the Irish, but converting one major to end their perfect defensive execution.

Nonetheless, the Banshees were the deserved winners, retaining their EC crown with a 115 point win and finishing off their perfect year claiming both the Euro Cup and now the European Championships.

The men’s grand final was a more competitive affair, also with the Irish favoured to win but the French weren’t going to make it easy on them. Enjoying a dream run as underdogs, the French Coqs managed to do what the Warriors couldn’t, defeat the GB Bulldogs – twice.

The fairy-tale finish looked well and truly on the cards at the beginning of the contest, with the French jumping out to a 15-point lead. By half time, the Warriors had come all the way back and managed to claim a three point advantage at the main break. They had the French reeling and it looked as if they were all set to run away with the game following the Coqs hot start.

The French once again proved their metal, coming back at the Irish to force a four-quarter performance from the favourites and with just ten minutes remaining in the final term, only six points separated the two sides, with the Warriors clinging to the lead. From here on out however, the Coqs finally ran out of steam and the Irish ran away with the game, winning by 25 points and securing a well-deserved international tournament win.

Not only are congratulations in order to the Irish for doing the EC double, but also to our runners-up, third place victors and all remaining teams for putting on such a show. At times this four day tournament felt like a true festival of footy and every spectator – both near and far – soaked up the spectacle, whether that be in person or via the livestream.

AFL Europe would like to extend a huge thank you to the Croatian Knights for hosting, the Croatian Ambassador to Australia Mr Andrea Biggi, Head of Mission, for their support, as well as all of our players, coaches, umpires, volunteers and fans – without you, these international tournaments wouldn’t have been possible.

Finally, don’t forget to head over to out YouTube channel – AFL Europe – where you can catch replays of each and every game.

Final Standings

Women’s competition

  1. Irish Banshees
  2. Great British Swans
  3. German Eagles
  4. Croatian Queens
  5. European Crusdaders

Men’s competition

  1. Irish Warriors
  2. French Coqs
  3. Great British Bulldogs
  4. Croatian Knights
  5. German Eagles

Golden Whistle

  • Ian Kafka

Women’s Team of the Tournament

  • Kristina Martic (CRO)
  • Kristina Kojundzlic (CRO)
  • Antonia Kablar (CRO)
  • Dina Bednar (CRO)
  • Camille Portal (EU)
  • Berengere Portal (EU)
  • Nathide Leon (EU)
  • Marta Garcia (EU)
  • Ioanna Kapasaki (GER)
  • Judith Schmitz (GER)
  • Klara Haertl (GER)
  • Annika Rode (GER)
  • Kayleigh Aylmer (GB)
  • Jayne Meadows (GB)
  • Freya Hibberd (GB)
  • Hannah Layton (GB)
  • Kate Franklin (GB)
  • Elinor Geddes (GB)
  • Maria Quirke (IRE)
  • Siobhan Shererin (IRE)
  • Marie Keating (IRE)
  • Brenda Bannon (IRE)
  • Ciara Corbett (IRE)
  • Annie Walsh (IRE)

Men’s Team of the Tournament

  • Josip Habljak (CRO)
  • Matija Pavlovic (CRO)
  • Kristian Sarcevic (CRO)
  • Daniel Santini (CRO)
  • Logan Bonhomme (FRA)
  • Nicolas Sardin (FRA)
  • Noe Laureillard (FRA)
  • Clement Decaux (FRA)
  • Thomas Crepin (FRA)
  • Jeremy Sardin (FRA)
  • Florian Naumann (GER)
  • Sebastian Handke (GER)
  • Tobias Menzel (GER)
  • Alexander Michel (GER)
  • Andrew Cochran (GB)
  • Patrick Statham (GB)
  • Jacob Robinson (GB)
  • Josef Lloyd (GB)
  • James McMahon (IRE)
  • Donall Purvis (IRE)
  • Sean Birmingham (IRE)
  • Liam Burns (IRE)
  • James O’Flatharta (IRE)
  • Conor Hughes (IRE)

– Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe

2022 European Championships Tournament Preview

The 2022 AFL Europe European Championships are less than 24 hours away and we hope you are just as excited as us!

This year, five men’s and five women’s teams will descend upon Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb to see who will be crowned Champions of Europe at the University of Zagreb’s brand-new full-size AFL ground.

European Championships occurs once every three years, so the tournament is one of AFL Europe’s most coveted. It also happens to be our only 18-a-side international event, a form of the game rarely seen across Europe as most countries tend to favour nine-a-side.

The change of codes to is a difficult switch for many countries to make, as teams must grapple with varying levels of 18-a-side experience, bringing a level of unfamiliarity to the tournament. However, the switch of codes allows teams more freedom to employ new tactics and game styles. The longer matches are also more demanding physically and require far greater squad depth and general AFL experience and I.Q than 9s.

This mixture of factors always makes for exciting footy and you can rest assured that EC22 will be no different. Expect high intensity, immense physicality, sharp skills and a healthy level of competitiveness from each and every player.

Excitingly, both 2019 Champions are returning to defend their crowns. In the men’s division, the Great Britain Bulldogs are hoping to complete a three-peat of wins after securing victory in 2016 and 2019, while the Irish Banshees are hoping to double-up after their 2019 success and follow on from their nine-a-side win at Euro Cup in Edinburgh earlier this year.

However, there will be plenty of competition for these two reigning champs and every single country and team competing should be considered a legitimate contender to emerge victorious at the end of the four action packed days of footy.

Croatia comes into the tournament after both its men’s and women’s sides put in strong showings at Euro Cup in Edinburgh, the Knights especially, who finished fourth overall and narrowly missed out on a Grand Final birth. Further, EC22 will be the Queens debut Euro Champs, so expect them to be extra fired up in front of the home crowd.

Both German sides have taken great strides over the Covid period and improved leaps and bounds from where they were in 2019 – as have the Irish Warriors and GB swans. Finally, the French Coqs and European Crusaders have been just as competitive as anyone else in the past six-months, but haven’t quite fulfilled their potential – maybe Euro Champs and the 18-a-side format will be when it all comes together for the French?

All in all, nothing will come easily for anyone and the Irish Banshees and GB Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them if they are to retain their respective titles.

Everything gets underway on October 5th, with day 1 kicking off the first of our round-robin style match-ups between the five teams in the respective men’s and women’s competitions. By the conclusion of day 2, all teams will have played each other once in short-form 40-minute matches broken into 20 min halves. This will decide who gets knocked out and which remaining four sides will play off in finals.

Finals will take place across days 3 and 4, with the semi-finals played on the former and the grand finals played on the latter. Matches will extend to four 20-minute quarters for both the men and women across days 3 and 4; full length footy on a full size pitch, it doesn’t get better than that.

All games will be available to watch via livestream, which will be broadcast via AFL Europe’s YouTube channel and shared all around the community and beyond. Excitingly, for the first time, select round-robin matches and finals will have live commentary alongside the broadcast. Stay tuned via our social media channels to stay up to date with all the latest news, results, fixtures and highlights across the four days.

Whether you’ll be keeping up with the tournament from near or far, we can’t wait to enjoy everything that’s about to take place with you and of course, best of luck to all countries competing!

– Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe

European Championships Team Previews: France and European Crusaders

The 2022 European Championships will soon be upon us and in order to build up the hype, we will be previewing all ten teams from the five countries who will be participating in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s only 18-a-side tournament – the truest form of Aussie Rules – and takes place once every three years. All set to be hosted in Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, the tournament will take place at the University of Zagreb’s recently built, full size AFL ground – one of very few in Europe. Read on below to see how things are shaping up ahead of the first bounce on October 5th.

In the fifth and final edition of our tournament previews, we spoke to the team managers from the French Coqs and the European Crusaders. Both sides are ecstatic to be playing 18-a-side footy and are as hungry to win as ever.

France

Men’s Team

Following its debut European Championships in 2019, the French Coqs will hope to improve upon its fifth placed finish from last time around. Having improved immensely over the past three years and brought in a new coaching staff, the sides expectations for EC22 will be higher, particularly following competitive showings at Euro Cup and against the Australian Spirit in the ANZAC Cup earlier this year.

With IC 2020 being cancelled due to the pandemic and IC 2023 being postponed to 2024, EC22 stands as one of the rare opportunities for this French side to play 18-a-side footy as a team, which has the squad hugely excited.

Team manager Nicolas Boch​é said despite winning four of their six matches at Euro Cup in Edinburgh, the team was left feeling frustrated after only managing 7th place and losing their final.

“French players are waiting for a chance to prove their level is higher than that. We will claim a spot on the podium this time as one of the best teams in Europe,” Boché said.

Following France’s recent inter-season summer break, the squad commenced training in Paris at AFL Europe’s Kick a Goal at the Eiffel Tower event, which served as a great opportunity for the squad to get back into its rhythm and play together.

Boché said it was terrific not only to train together again, but that the after party allowed for some crucial team bonding to take place which has lifted everyone’s sprits ahead of EC22 next week.

The biggest challenge however, has been preparing for 18-a-side footy but rest assured, the Coq’s coach is their ace in the hole.

“​In France, unfortunately, we don’t have 18-a-side facilities yet so it’s a bit difficult to prepare specifically to this format of the game,” Boché said.

“However, we have players that experienced full size footy in Australia during ICs 2014 and 2017 and our coach Jason Quinn has previously coached professional teams down under, so no doubt he will help us adapting our game to 18-a-side.”

A new coach isn’t all the French side is bringing to Croatia. The squad will see a few new faces make their tournament debuts, as well as some familiar faces return for another run at silverware.

Like all sides, the Coq’s have prioritised picking a squad with equal parts experience and youth, something particularly important for 18-a-side footy because of its chaotic nature.

Boché said of the squad: “You should keep an eye on Logan Bonhomovic, currently living and playing in Australia for one year who will come back to Europe for the occasion. Louis Jamart is also playing 18-a-side abroad and just won the AFL London Social Premiership with the Sussex Swans.”

“Further, Anthony Boubet, Team of the Tournament’s member in Edinburgh, will surely show some more great skills and continue his strong form. Some other good players will make their debuts with the French Coqs in Croatia too, but they already demonstrated they have the skills and spirit to be part of the team so no doubt the integration will be a success!

​“It will be the first time in Croatia for most of the team so we are really excited about discovering this country and especially the city of Zagreb.”

European Crusaders

Women’s team

The latest iteration of the European Crusaders will be primarily made up of the French Gauloises, who are all excited to make their European Championships debut. Rounding out the squad will be some added support with players from the likes of Belgium, etc, etc which serves as a great opportunity for these individuals from countries still in their AFL infancy to get a taste of international competition.

It has been an enormous effort for the Crusaders to put a squad together that has enough depth to meet the demands of 18s Aussie Rules, so the side is hungry to do itself justice and has been working hard to ensure their bring their best footy to the table.

Team manager, Camille Portal, said the recent Kick a Goal at the Eiffel Tower event in Paris was a terrific way to solidify the squad and train together, ensuring everyone with a ticket to Croatia feels a part of the team and knows what to expect.

She said, “Some of the girls had the chance to play 18-a-side during the IC17, plus one or two girls used to play in London, so we feel somewhat prepared for the jump to 18s.”

“Additionally, we have been and will continue to watch AFLW games back in Australia in order to get a better understanding of how this version of the game unfolds.”

Understanding the depth and strength of their competition, the Crusaders have tempered their expectations and are extremely happy to have put a team together. However, although they are prioritising “fun and sharing great moments with all the teams”, this squad has proven its pedigree and competitive fire in the past.

“Margaux Semene, Myriam Allali and Delphine Ouvrard are the girls to watch,” Portal said. The trio are in extremely good form and won’t shy away from shouldering the responsibility of leading their team by example. Expect them all to see plenty of the footy.

“We just can’t wait to be there,” Portal said.

– Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe

European Championships Team Previews: Great Britain

The 2022 European Championships will soon be upon us and in order to build up the hype, we will be previewing all ten teams from the five countries who will be participating in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s only 18-a-side tournament – the truest form of Aussie Rules – and takes place once every three years. All set to be hosted in Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, the tournament will take place at the University of Zagreb’s recently built, full size AFL ground – one of very few in Europe. Read on below to see how things are shaping up ahead of the first bounce on October 5th.

In the fourth edition of our tournament previews, we spoke to the coaching staff from Great Britain, who, as always, is bringing both men’s and women’s squads. As hungry to win as ever, this Euro Champs stalwart is prepping for another run at some silverware.

Women’s team

After finishing third in 2019 and in order to go one better this year, the Swans will be bringing a fresh squad and a new coaching staff to EC22 who are determined to play their way into the big dance come tournament’s end.

Considering the experience of the squad and having attended multiple European Championships, finishing third in 2019 was somewhat of a disappointment for the GB Swans, however, it speaks to the quality of their opposition. Nonetheless, coach Jay Treloar said the squad is excited to be back competing on the international stage and has high hopes for the tournament.

He said, “The enthusiasm and engagement has been absolutely wonderful and it’s been fantastic seeing so many new faces keen to put their hand up for selection or even just try out a session or two.”

“As a side with strong previous performances, the GB Swans are coming into this tournament with our eyes firmly fixed on playing in every game and coming away with strong results. We want to be booking an extra seat for the flight back.”

As one of the few countries whose domestic competitions are largely 18-a-side, the change of code should suit the Swans quite well – there is an abundance of 18-a-side experience within the squad.

Despite the personnel changes within the team, the ethos and identity of past Swans sides very much remains at the heart of this latest squad and Treloar says preparation and team building has been going smoothly.

He said, “Given the time that has elapsed since previous tournaments, a lot of things have changed for a lot of people so while the team might look different based on those selected, the guiding philosophies and spirit with which we will play will build on the foundations from previous teams.”

“Our preparation has reflected this through online team meetings, training sessions and ongoing communication – who are we and how do we convey this? As such, the team building, while a work in progress, is really positive with lots of familiar bonds being built between new and old teammates.

“Players are starting to learn nuances about each other and this has been shining through in our training sessions.”

Like all coaches, Treloar is chomping at the bit to see his side’s hard work and training pay off. In particular, he said finally seeing his structures tested against a competitive opposition will be exhilarating.

“I want to see how they respond to pressure and adversity and likewise, how do you manage a game when you have the advantage,” he said.

“​I’m particularly excited to see just how many of the players stand up to lead when it’s needed and I’m quietly confident that they will impress me.”

With the continued expansion of Aussie Rules across the United Kingdom, earning a spot within the GB squad was highly competitive.

Treloar certainly enjoyed the luxury of having to make some tough calls when picking his side. Thus, the Swans are all hungry to represent their country and repay their coach’s faith.

Treloar said, “For us as a coaching group, we want to see each and every player, debutant or multi-tournament veteran take each and every game by the scruff of the neck and throw the kitchen sink at it.”

“We want them to come away happy with their contributions and be able to identify how they can be better still next time.

“Our aim is to have helped each player develop the right tools to manage themselves through a multiday tournament and come out of it with a successful result and a sense of genuine satisfaction.”

Men’s team

The Great British Bulldogs come into EC22 as back-to-back reigning champs after dominant wins at European Championships in 2016 and 2019. Further, fresh off the back of a big win at Euro Cup in Edinburgh, the squad is in terrific form and looks imperious. However, with the quality of their opposition immensely high, going back-to-back-to-back won’t be easy.

Bulldogs coach Dean Thomas said his side is very excited to get back to playing 18s and renewing old rivalries.

He said, “The Bulldogs always focus on internal expectations, and this tournament is no different. We expect challenging competition, from all opponents. If we live up to our own internal expectations the results will come, if not, they won’t.”

“The playing group is gelling very well. Cost of living challenges have impacted our ability to train regularly as a group, so we have introduced regional running groups on set programmes, to assist in their preparation and we are confident all the boys will be ready to go.

“Whilst the focus is on team objectives, the boys are also looking forward to being a part of two individual achievements – Owain Ryland will break the games played record for GB in this competition in what will be a monumental achievement, and Ross Denton will break the record for most games as GB captain.”

As with the women’s side, 18-a-side experience is in plentiful supply for the Bulldogs, so the change of codes is not a major concern and could in-fact be of benefit to the team.

However, this iteration of the GB Bulldogs will have 11 EC debutants, among them ten players who will be earning their first GB caps, so squad veterans will play an integral role in ensuring these younger players are ready to face the demands of an international Aussie Rules tournament.

“We feel we have an excellent balance of experience and fresh faces who will create new levels of enthusiasm and contribute very highly to team standards and performance,” Treloar said.

“Amongst the experienced players there are many who have had a prominent impact at international level for several years now, are well known, and are still in their prime. In terms of the new faces, we  expect all of them to have an impact, with perhaps Jacob Robinson and Steve Welton the two early standouts.”

Beyond footy, the squad is of course looking forward to bonding throughout the trip and enjoying everything Zagreb has to offer.

“With no competition since 2019, it has been a long wait. Trips overseas with international squads are always great team building experiences as well.”

“I am sure all the boys are looking forward to seeing the sites in Zagreb. Footy is first and foremost their priority, but we always encourage the boys to have a good time off the field. This trip will be no different.”

– Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe

European Championship Team Previews: Croatia

The 2022 European Championships will soon be upon us and in order to build up the hype, we will be previewing all ten teams from the five countries who will be participating in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s only 18-a-side tournament – the truest form of Aussie Rules – and takes place once every three years. All set to be hosted in Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, the tournament will take place at the University of Zagreb’s recently built, full size AFL ground – one of very few in Europe. Read on below to see how things are shaping up ahead of the first bounce on October 5th.

Tournament hosts, Croatia, have high expectations for EC22. Bringing both a men’s and women’s side for the first time. Between the Knights and the Queens, there will be plenty of Croatian footy for the home fans to support. 

Women’s team

This is the first European Championship that the Croatian Queens will be attending, a landmark achievement for the host nation who also sported both men’s and women’s sides at Euro Cup earlier this year.

Team Manager, Dinko Irsag, said the Queens are all excited for the experience and are looking forward to having the “home turf advantage”.

This EC will be the first time a Croatian women’s side has played 18-a-side in a tournament setting, so considering the experience of some of their competition, expectations are quite tempered. The squad is relishing the opportunity to test themselves against Europe’s best and become part of history as Croatia’s first women’s team at an EC.

Despite the lack of experience, Irsag is sure the squad will put its best foot forward and has been impressed with the player’s high level of preparation, particularly in terms of making the switch to 18s.

Irsag said, “A lot of players are still trying to get the handle of the game and are doing their best to transfer from nine-a-side to 18-a-side.”

“Trying to switch from nine-a-side to 18-a-side is hard on two levels. One, the physicality of 18s is quite different and taxes the body a lot more and two, the concept of having another 17 players on the field with you is a concept that needs a little bit of time to get used to.

“Most players were not in Zagreb over the summer, many spent their time getting in shape for the tournament elsewhere. Now that they’ve all come together the training sessions are shaping up and looking good.”

Despite the challenges of changing codes, Irsag said the Queens are eager to “finally find out what it means to play footy in its original form”.

Somewhat constrained by the broad range of debutants and inexperienced footballers, Irsag said the depth of the Queen’s tactics may not match their opposition. However, “every single player in the Queens is looking to leave a mark on the field and is dedicated to making sure the team does the best it possibly can”.

“We’re all very happy to be hosting this year’s European Championship and just being part of such an event is an honour for all of us.”

“There’s always something new to find in Zagreb and even our players native to the city be looking to find hidden nooks and crannies that make it special.”

Men’s team

Ahead of their fourth European Championships and first on home soil, the Knights are looking to improve upon their fourth placed finish from 2019 and win some silverware in front of the home fans. Expect this highly motivated squad to be an extremely tough match-up, particularly off the back of a strong effort at Euro Cup earlier this year in Scotland.

Team captain, Josip Kravar, said the squad is very excited to welcome everyone to Zagreb and expects the standard of competition to very high.

“This year, as we are hosts, we are very happy that we now have access to a proper footy oval after more than 10 years of struggle to obtain it. We hope that everyone will enjoy it and we will have good games and fun for all,” he said.

Josip said although the squad expects to bring its best footy, they are being cautiously optimistic due to their lack of 18-a-side experience. He admitted to not feeling as confident as they are playing nine-a-side, particularly with respect to teams like Great Britain and Ireland.

However, months of preparation has gone into building the strongest and most cohesive team possible, with an uptake in training set to begin in September, the Knights are quickly building themselves into Croatia’s best Euro Champs outfit yet.

“We started our preparations in Feb 2022 and the national team has once-per-week training. We will increase this in September to two times per week.” Josip said.

“Most players have training in their clubs and the Croatian league has its finals in September, so we expect to be in competition form in October.

In terms of team building, it is a different story here. We are a small country, and most of the clubs are in Zagreb or near Zagreb, so we can afford to have weekly training. Players know each other very well and there are no requirements for national team players to travel.”

As the Knights already know each other quite well, team building is less of a priority in training. Josip said the squad has largely focused on preparing themselves for playing Aussie Rules in its purest form for the first time since EC 2019.

He said, “We gained experience in the last ECs and in IC 2017 and we are trying to play friendly games to stay in touch with the original game.”

“As stated, we have weekly training and we are doing our drills for 18-a-side footy. The core of the team is the players that have experience from the last IC CUP with the addition of a few new young players and we hope that will be a good combination not just for the tournament, but for the future of our footy community.”

Boasting a healthy mix of experience and youth, the Knights are keeping their new young guns close to the chest, not singling anyone out ahead of the tournament as someone to keep an eye on.

“It would be unfair to single out any one player, as most of our strength comes from our unity, sacrifice for the team and sense of national pride in playing for our national team. There are a couple of debutants playing 18-a-side for the first time, but I will leave them to stand out during the games,” Josip said.

Excited to play and compete, the Croatian captain acknowledged that welcoming the broader European footy community to his country and making everyone feel welcome is the number one priority. He said he hopes everyone gets a chance to explore the city and if they need some tour guides, the Knights are willing to lend a hand.

– Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe

European Championships Team Previews: Germany

The 2022 European Championships will soon be upon us and in order to build up the hype, we will be previewing all ten teams from the five countries who will be participating in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s only 18-a-side tournament – the truest form of Aussie Rules – and takes place once every three years. All set to be hosted in Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, the tournament will take place at the University of Zagreb’s recently built, full size AFL ground – one of very few in Europe. Read on below to see how things are shaping up ahead of the first bounce on October 5th.

In this edition of team previews, we take a look at Germany and hear from the Team Manager to see how both the men’s and women’s Eagles squads are preparing for the tournament.

Women’s team 

Returning to the women’s edition of European Championships for the second consecutive tournament, the German Eagles have silverware in their sights.

After finishing second at their debut tournament in London in 2019, the Eagles expect to go one better this year and serve it up to the reigning champs.

Team manager, Manuell Gauding, said, “We still have some players who were there in London and with the novice players under their guidance in an 18-a-side match, we expect to remain competitive.”

“The team is shaping up nicely after the European Cup – the tournament was instrumental for our players to get to know each other.

“We have had some footy school sessions and online team building games since and there will be one final camp in Berlin to focus specifically on Euro champ training ahead of the competition in October.”

Ahead of the tournament getting underway, the Eagles are most excited to playing the 18-a-side format of the game, something which will be entirely new to some players.

Four-straight days of playing matches is another point of excitement for the squad, who relish the fitness challenge and are looking forward to pushing themselves to the limits throughout the week-long competition.

Gauding said the team has a myriad of players to keep an eye on, a mix of veterans and debutants, who he expects will make life tough for the opposition and put Germany in the best position to win.

He said, “Experienced eagles Maren McLachlan, Ioanna Kopasaki and our captain Resi Kresse are playing at the top of their game as seen in the AFL Germany competition. Marie Kaiser has also been working hard to become a valuable midfielder with the versatility to play in other positions across the field.”

“Newcomer Lisa Umlauf will command the backline with confidence. The new midfield players Maike Beule, Bente Nachtigal, Judith Schmitz, Klara Haertl and Pia Plagens should not be underestimated either, and we expect to see the agility and determination which they have shown us in camps and at the European Cup.”

With the focus strictly on going deep into finals and supporting their male counterparts, Gauding said there won’t be an abundance of time to explore Zagreb but will endeavour to see the city’s sites nonetheless.

“We are excited to plan team dinners in town and will see as much as possible.”

Men’s Team

The men’s German squad is returning to European Championships for just the third time but expect the Eagles to be extremely competitive after finishing runner-up at Euro Cup in Edinburgh earlier this year.

German football has really gone from strength to strength in the wake of Covid, so expect the side to go better than its finish of sixth from back in 2019 where the squad ultimately lacked enough 18-a-side experience.

Guading said, “The men’s team this year is the strongest we will have ever brough to an 18-a-side tournament. We have struggled at previous tournaments to adjust to the larger format, but we aim to be competitive this year, against very strong competition.”

“The bigger team means education on the roles of flankers, wingman and pockets is crucial and we are training these positions via video chats, as well as during training camps.

“We will have had three training camps in 2022 by the time EC rolls around which is great for the team to build both skills and spirit together. They love football, so that helps bring them together quite quickly.”

The Eagles were a bit of a surprise package at Euro Cup, going further than many predicted. Their amazing run was epitomised by the Eagle’s upset of the highly favoured Irish Warriors in a preliminary final, so expect to see them take another leap in Zagreb.

In the wake of Euro Cup, the Germans have put the rest of the competition on notice and their opposition will be sure not to underestimate them again. Although their 18-a-side experience is limited, this squad possesses an immense level of team spirit and togetherness that other teams may envy.

The most important thing for this side is ensuring each and every player is enjoying what they do and feels a part of the team.

Gauding said, “We are looking forward to competing quarter to quarter, to see our improvement from previous tournaments and hopefully with that comes the rewards for the effort, but overall, our mantra is speed, support and Spaß (German for fun), so we will ultimately aim to enjoy our footy.”

Guading also highlighted some specific talent he is excited to see take EC by storm.

“As mentioned we have some experience, like with our Captain, Florian Naumann and Vice Captains, Tobias Menzel and Martin Schüttoff. They will lead from the front and be players to watch,” he said.

“Some young guys who haven’t played much 18s before but are showing plenty of talent are Moritz Remuta and Max Krämer, who I’m excited to see play again in this format.

“We will have a host of tournament debutants, but each of them will be bringing high quality football from AFL Germany to Zagreb.”

A final note, this tournament will be the first time the German Eagles have a representative from every AFL Germany club within their squad, which represents just how far footy in Germany has come.

– Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe

European Championships Team Previews: Ireland

The 2022 European Championships will soon be upon us and in order to build up the hype, we will be previewing all ten teams from the five countries participating in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s only 18-a-side tournament – the truest form of Aussie Rules – and takes place once every three years. All set to be hosted in Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, the tournament will take place at the University of Zagreb’s recently built full size AFL ground – one of very few in Europe. Read on below to see how things are shaping up ahead of the first bounce on October 5th.

In this edition of our team previews, we take a look at Ireland and hear from the men’s and women’s coaches to see how each respective squad’s preparation for the tournament is going.

Women’s team

Returning for their third European Championships, the Irish Banshees will hope to go back-to-back and retain the title they won in 2019. Fresh off a dominant performance at Euro Cup earlier this year, winning in emphatic style, the Banshees will be the team to beat. Eager to continue their winning run, expectations are high amongst one of Europe’s most  competitive Aussie Rules squads.

Head coach Shane Beggan said his side won’t shy a way from the physicality that comes with the traditional 18-a-side Aussie Rules format.

We are going to be challenging some very physical teams this year and each opponent brings something different to the field,” he said.

“We are confident that all the pre-work is done so we can hit the ground running.”

Renowned for their work ethic and passion, the Banshees have been relentlessly pushing one another to improve ahead of EC22. Attempting to remain cautiously optimistic for the tournament, as not to underestimate the competition, Beggan said he has been astonished at his squad’s commitment to stringent preparation and dedication.

He said, “Our team is straightening up very well. They all have been following and excelling at what is being asked of them.”

“I am liking the results I am seeing in each training and every time we bring them together. The Irish Banshees is a strong team inside and outside of the pitch.”

The Banshees proved their ability to succeed at both the nine and 18-a-side formats in 2019, but with some younger talent entering the squad for the first time, the change of codes could be challenging.

Beggan however, believes the benefits of training and playing in Ireland will make the switch a simple one to adjust to.

In Ireland, we are lucky to have plenty of GAA grounds that are quite wide, so within our league we can field 13/14 a side games, which is not quite the oval shape, but we can get a very good sense of it,” he said.

“Some of the players have also experienced the 18 a-side games and this gets brought to the team’s mentality.

“Different aspects of the game are brought out in these bigger tournaments. The most important for me is just how hard-hitting the games always are. With that in mind for Euro Champs, the number one thing will be getting used to the longer quarters.”

Playing things close to the chest in terms of personnel, Beggan was reluctant to give too much away. However, he guaranteed the squad’s depth will be its greatest asset.

 Without a doubt, all 28 Irish Banshees players are the ones to keep your eyes on.”

“This side has a mix of experience and debutants, which is always exciting to see how they fuse together. The mentality that all these players bring is incredible, so expect to see some amazing footy from all of them.

“I am looking forward to seeing our hard work in action and I’m sure all the training will pay off. I am very proud of the team.”

Beyond just the footy side of things, Euro Champs is an opportunity for the AFL Europe community to come together and explore a new city. Beggan said his entire side “can’t wait to see what Zagreb has to offer”.

Men’s team

Perhaps hungrier for a win than any other side, this iteration of the Irish Warriors will be keen to make amends for falling just short of the Grand Final at Euro Cup.

An ever-present entity at European Championships, the Warriors are well accustomed to silverware, winning the tournament in 2010 and 2013, before coming runners-up in 2016.

Head coach Eoin O’Sullivan said the lads are “massively excited for AFL Europe’s marquee event”.

“It’s the big time in terms of 18s AFL in Europe and only comes once every three years, so of course we’re excited for Euro Champs,” he said.

“League football and 9s footy are great, but full 18s on an oval is where you want to be!”

With 2013 being the last time the Warriors tasted victory and amidst their female counterpart’s recent dominance of the women’s competition, the Irish lads are keen to get in on the action and expect to contend for the title in Zagreb.

O’Sullivan said, “With new management and a host of new players, we’re confident we can better our 2019 placing of 3rd and perhaps go all the way this year.”

“We’re shaping up well. We’ve had a few trial games and open training sessions and have checked in on games in Ireland and abroad to source new talent.

“Couple those with the experience within the team, we have a nice mix and a team with a real focus and intent on giving everything in October.

“Team building is always difficult when players are still with their clubs for domestic finals and we don’t get together every week either,  but these boys have created a bond already with the limited time together and I’m excited to see what we can achieve with this group.”

As with the women’s side, the Warriors have been making use of Ireland’s makeshift ovals to facilitate a smooth transition from nine-a-side to 18s.

“We’ve used a mix of GAA & soccer pitches in an attempt to replicate the space available on a full-size oval,” O’Sullivan said.

“We’re aware that other countries have access to full ovals, so we want to be prepared as best we can for that. But our league plays 14s on a GAA field, so the space and gameplay is not completely foreign to us either.”

As usual, the Warriors will come in up for the fight and are excited to test themselves against Europe’s best.

“Croatia are hosting and will be a formidable team, GB are back-to-back champions, Germany are coming off the back of a very successful Euro Cup and France have an active league with teams that have performed well at Champions League and Euro Cup.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing how our boys measure up against the rest of Europe and if we can follow through on the promise shown at training.”

With over half the squad set to make their Euro Champs debut, there’s plenty of new blood within the Warrior’s squad. Beggan said he searched far and wide across the country to ensure he got the most talented and well-adjusted squad as possible – one with a mix of youth and experience.

It was a thorough selection process and “every one of those 28 players really earned their spot this year”.

He said, “It will be a testing week of footy, with 80mins of football to be played four days in a row, so it’s very much a squad game nowadays with every member of the 28 needed to compete. It will no doubt be a tough ask, but it’s what everyone wants to do – pit themselves against their peers and see how they measure up.”

“Croatia is a beautiful part of the world and the Croatians are avid AFL fans who will be fantastic hosts. I have no doubt they will have everything prepared and will put on a great show.

“The location looks great, and the idea of walking around Zagreb with a team of AFL players for a week is exciting, especially when there will be 10 AFL Teams doing the very same!”

– Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe

Kick a Goal at the Eiffel Tower Review

Following a successful debut in 2021, this weekend saw the return of the ‘Kick a Goal at the Eiffel Tower’ initiative in Paris, France. Hosted by AFL France in partnership with the Australian Embassy’s ‘Australia now – France’ programme and AFL Europe, the day saw both men’s and women’s Aussie Rules matches, an appearance from the French national side and even an AusKick session for locals.

Vice President of the Paris Coqs Football Club, Andrew O’Conner, worked with Australia now and AFL Europe to organise the day and bring it back for the second consecutive year.

“Last year was a great success and people wanted to come back, so we thought, ‘why not?’ and put it on again,” O’Conner said.

“We asked all of the French Aussie Rules clubs to be involved in today and it’s amazing to see them here – we have all of the clubs from both the South and North of France.”

Centred around building a bigger profile for Australia’s national game in France and bringing some new players into the French clubs, the footy showcase made itself impossible to ignore. Set at the foot of the famous Eiffel Tower, everyone was excited to be involved.

The day saw 75 footballers from seven French Aussie Rules clubs play ten exhibition matches. Over 60 members of the public got involved in the AusKick session and, as with any good day of footy, over 300 sausages were sold.

“The event is great to raise the awareness of the sport, particularly in Paris,” O’Conner said.

“Specifically with the AusKick session that we did this morning, it brings a lot of different families who may not have been aware of the club in Paris, let alone Australian Football in France.

“Secondly, it’s terrific for trying to recruit new players, not just for the club here in Paris but across the country, because there are so many great clubs here in France.”

Australia’s Ambassador to UNESCO and Deputy Ambassador to France, Megan Anderson, was in attendance.

“We like supporting all Australians here in France, right across different domains. Whether that be cultural, sporting or business. We try to reach out and work with Australians wherever they are and AFL France is no different,” Anderson said.

The Ambassador said it was a pleasure to see so many locals getting involved and even brought her own children down to have a kick.

“We have a lot of families in our own community and children who were keen to participate in the AusKick clinic this morning,” she said.

“I’ve got a couple of children myself who have had a great time kicking around and learning a few techniques and they’re definitely keen to give it another go.”

The day was once again a resounding success and the hundreds in attendance couldn’t decide where to look – at the great footy or the Eiffel Tower itself.

Ambassador Anderson said she looks forward to further supporting AFL France in future.

Hopefully we will see you all there again in 2022!

French translation

Après des débuts réussis en 2021, ce week-end a vu le retour de l’initiative ‘Frapper un but à la tour Eiffel’ à Paris, en France. Organisée par l’AFL France en partenariat avec le programme “Australie maintenant – France” de l’ambassade d’Australie et l’AFL Europe, la journée a vu des matchs masculins et féminins des règles australiennes, une apparition de l’équipe nationale française et même une session AusKick pour les locaux.

Le vice-président du Paris Coqs Football Club, Andrew O’Conner, a travaillé avec l’Australie maintenant et l’AFL Europe pour organiser la journée et la ramener pour la deuxième année consécutive.

“L’année dernière a été un grand succès et les gens voulaient revenir, alors nous avons pensé, ‘pourquoi pas?’ et l’avons remis”, a déclaré O’Conner.

“Nous avons demandé à tous les clubs français Aussie Rules de participer aujourd’hui et c’est incroyable de les voir ici – nous avons tous les clubs du sud et du nord de la France.”

Centrée sur la construction d’un plus grand profil pour le jeu national australien en France et l’arrivée de nouveaux joueurs dans les clubs français, la vitrine du football s’est rendue impossible à ignorer. Situé au pied de la célèbre Tour Eiffel, tout le monde était ravi d’être impliqué.

La journée a vu 75 footballeurs de sept clubs français Aussie Rules jouer dix matchs d’exhibition. Plus de 60 membres du public se sont impliqués dans la session AusKick et, comme pour toute bonne journée de foot, plus de 300 saucisses ont été vendues.

“L’événement est formidable pour faire connaître le sport, en particulier à Paris”, a déclaré O’Conner.

“Plus précisément avec la session AusKick que nous avons faite ce matin, cela amène beaucoup de familles différentes qui n’étaient peut-être pas au courant du club à Paris, sans parler du football australien en France.

“Deuxièmement, c’est formidable d’essayer de recruter de nouveaux joueurs, pas seulement pour le club ici à Paris mais dans tout le pays, car il y a tellement de grands clubs ici en France.”

L’ambassadrice d’Australie auprès de l’UNESCO et ambassadrice adjointe en France, Megan Anderson, était présente.

“Nous aimons accompagner tous les Australiens ici en France, dans différents domaines. Que ce soit culturel, sportif ou commercial. Nous essayons de tendre la main et de travailler avec les Australiens où qu’ils se trouvent et l’AFL France n’est pas différente,” a déclaré Anderson.

L’ambassadrice a dit que c’était un plaisir de voir autant d’habitants s’impliquer et a même amené ses propres enfants pour qu’ils s’amusent.

“Nous avons beaucoup de familles dans notre propre communauté et des enfants qui souhaitaient participer à la clinique AusKick ce matin”, a-t-elle déclaré.

“J’ai moi-même quelques enfants qui ont passé un bon moment à jouer et à apprendre quelques techniques et ils sont vraiment impatients de réessayer.”

La journée a été une fois de plus un succès retentissant et les centaines de personnes présentes ne pouvaient pas décider où regarder – le grand foot ou la Tour Eiffel elle-même.

L’ambassadrice Anderson a déclaré qu’elle se réjouissait de continuer à soutenir l’AFL France à l’avenir.

J’espère que nous vous reverrons tous là-bas en 2022!

Kick a goal at the Eiffel Tower in September

Australian Football is returning to the heart of Paris!

After a hugely successful inaugural event last year, as part of the Australia now – France programme, AFL France is organising another celebration of Australia’s greatest game to take place in September. The day will kick-off with skills sessions for children in the morning, followed by male and female exhibition matches and activities for the public.

Aussie rules continues to grow in France at the grass roots level, with male and female players now representing 11 different clubs around the country.

Footy offers a common language for French people seeking to play a new sport and Australian expats looking for a taste of home during their stay in France. Each year, players compete in the AFL France competition held between September and May, as well as events such as the highly symbolic ANZAC Cup in April at Villers-Bretonneux, and AFL Europe’s Champions League.

This year’s venue is again the Stade Emile Anthoine, at the foot of the iconic Eiffel Tower, and just across the road from the Australian Embassy. Emile Antoine is easily accessible from anywhere in Paris by foot or public transport. Food and drink will be offered, including an Australian-style BBQ.

As an open event, people of all ages are welcome to join AFL France and the Australian Football clubs of France in celebrating Australia’s Game by “kicking a goal for France” at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Event Details

Stade Emile Antoine

Saturday 3rd September 2022

Timing: 10h – 18h

Open event: All welcome

Organised with the generous support of the Australian Embassy Paris, the Embassy Social Club, AFL Europe, and FACILITA

French translation

Le football australien est de retour !

Après le succès de l’événement en 2021, AFL France organise une deuxième édition pleine d’activités telles qu’une initiation pour le grand public et des matchs masculins et féminins pour célébrer le sport national australien.

Le football australien continue de grandir en France avec maintenant 11 clubs représentés partout dans le pays.

Ce sport constitu un langage commun pour les Français qui cherchent un nouveau sport, et pour les expatriés australiens qui voudraient conserver une partie de leur culture pendant leur séjour en France. Chaque année, les joueurs participent au championnat d’AFL France de septembre à mai, et à des événements comme la symbolique ANZAC Cup à Villers-Bretonneux en avril, et la Champions League organisée par AFL Europe.

Le lieu cette année sera une nouvelle fois l’iconique Stade Emile Anthoine, à deux pas de la Tour Eiffel, et en face de l’Ambassade d’Australie. Le stade est très facilement accessible à pied ou par les transports en commun. Une buvette sera disponible sur place, ainsi qu’un barbecue typiquement australien.

Ouvert à tous, tout le monde est invité à nous joindre pour célébrer le football australien au cœur de Paris.

Détails de l’événement

Stade Emile Anthoine

Samedi 3 septembre 2022

10h – 18h

Ouvert à tous

Organisé avec le soutien de l’Ambassade d’Australie, le Social Club de l’Ambassade, AFL Europe, Leo Lagrange, et FACILITA

Euro Cup 2022 Tournament Review

The 2022 Euro Cup saw 24 national teams journey to Edinburgh, Scotland for Europe’s biggest nine-a-side Aussie Rules competition. In extremely windy conditions, 60 matches took place across four pitches to crown the 2022 Euro Cup men’s and women’s champions.

With over 400 players, coaches, volunteers, umpires and fans present, Edinburgh Leisure and Edinburgh Academical Sports Ground were packed to the rafters, an incredible spectacle in the wake of the pandemic.

The tournament itself saw England competing in both the men’s and women’s Grand Finals. The Dragonslayers found themselves up against the German Eagles in the men’s and in the women’s, the Vixens faced off against the always formidable Irish Banshees.

In the women’s, despite an arm-wrestle of a first half the Banshees proved far too strong for the Vixens, winning in a dominant display and completing a Euro Cup three-peat. The Irish side ran away with it in the second half, winning by 33 points and conceding just one behind.

Over in the men’s, the England Dragonslayers managed to hold off an inspired German side whose celebrations and team spirit were commendable. As with the Irish in the women’s, the win marked a three-peat of Euro Cup wins for the Dragonslayers, who took out the Grand Final comfortably, winning 53 – 8.

Women’s Competition

Pool A:

In Pool A, the England Vixens were the team to beat from the start, defeating the Polish Angels in their Euro Cup debut match by 38 points. The Vixens then went on to defeat the French Gauloises and Netherland Women’s respectively, conceding just three behinds in the process and finishing the group stage as the top seed across the competition.

The French Gauloises won their other two matches, starting the day off strong with a win over the Dutch before falling to the Vixens. However, they got back on song with a strong performance against the Polish Angels to secure second in the group. While for the Dutch, despite defeating Poland, losses to both the Vixens and Gauloises saw them finish third in the Pool.

As for the tournament debutants, despite failing to win a pool game the Polish Angels effort and endeavour was unquestionable. The inexperienced side held their own against some of the tournaments strongest opposition and should be proud of their efforts, which bode well for an even better performance at Euro Cup next year.

In the playoffs, the Vixens managed to hold off the Scottish Sirens in a tough game before falling to the Banshees by five goals in the Grand Final and finishing runners-up. The French and the Dutch managed to match-up against each other once again, finishing as the sixth and seventh seeds respectively. However, on this occasion it was the team from the Netherlands who were victorious, putting them into the fifth-place playoff where they fell to the German Eagles. Despite losing to the Dutch, the French were able to rally and defeat the European Crusaders to finish seventh overall.

Finally, although the Angels didn’t win a group game, they managed to earn a debut victory against the Swiss Heidis in the playoffs and finish in tenth place.

Pool B:

Pool B was all about the Banshees, who managed to score at an alarming rate thanks to an incredibly diligent and well-structured forward line. Their backline was just as formidable however, and the Irish managed to win all three pool games while holding two of their opponents, the European Crusaders and Swiss Heidis, scoreless.

This meant there was a fierce battle for second place among the Heidis, Crusaders and German Eagles. Despite valiant efforts from the newly formed European Crusaders, the Eagles proved to be the pick of the bunch – defeating both the Heidis and Crusaders and even managing to score a goal against the Banshees – the only team to do this all day. The Crusaders missed out on second place due to a narrow two-point loss against the Eagles but can go home with their heads held high after besting the Swiss by 20 points.

As for the Heidis, despite the results not going their way, the team fought hard all day long and never quit, displaying a winning attitude that the team should take great pride in.

In the playoffs, the Banshees went on to win it all, defeating the English and once again proving they are one of Europe’s most consistent and diligent Aussie Rules outfits. As for the Crusaders and the Swiss, the Crusaders finished in eighth place after going down to the French and the Swiss earned 11th position after a narrow loss to the Polish Angels.

The German Eagles rounded out the playoffs by finishing in fifth place after back-to-back wins against Crusaders and the Dutch.

Pool C:

Pool C was one of the most hard-fought groups across the entire competition, with a winner emerging in the dying minutes of the final game. The home-town Scottish Sirens kicked things off with a big win against the Swedish Ravens, but after the Welsh Wyverns held the Ravens to just three behinds, the Sirens were shaking in their boots ahead of their match-up with the Welsh.

With the Swedes dropping games to both the Scottish and the Welsh, the battle for first place all came down to the final match-up – the Sirens vs the Wyverns. The game was a see-sawing affair, with both sides leading at different points but ultimately, it was the Wyverns who managed to eek out the victory by just two points, putting them on top spot.

In the finals, the Ravens went on to finish ninth overall, ending the day with consecutive victories over the Swiss Heidis and Polish Angels, while the Scottish and the Welsh found themselves matched-up against one another in a third-place playoff after losing their preliminary finals against the English and Irish respectively. The battle for third was just as even as the two sides pool game – level at half-time. However, on this occasion the Sirens finished the strongest and managed to defeat the Wyverns by two goals and secure some silverware in front of the home fans.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – JUNE 18: AFL Euro Cup 2022 at Inverleith Park on June 18, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo by Hans van der Valk/Orange Pictures)

Men’s Competition

Pool A:

In Pool A of the men’s the England Dragonslayers were imperious, winning all three games despite a brief scare against a determined Israeli outfit. The Israeli Beasts proved to be the surprise of the tournament, fighting the Dragonslayers all the way and defeating both the Scottish Clansmen and Netherland Flying Dutch to finish second in the pool. The Clansmen did manage a victory in front of the home fans, defeating the Dutch and earning themselves a match-up with the French Coqs in the finals. As for the Dutch, it simply wasn’t their day and the team struggled to convert its opportunities in the windy conditions.

In the finals, the English managed to hold on in their preliminary final against the Croatians, winning by only a goal, before defeating the Germans in convincing fashion in the Grand Final and displaying some of the best skills of the day.

The Israeli Beasts faltered against both the Welsh and the French in finals, which saw them finish in eighth place. However, their strong pool form shows they will be a team to contend with for years to come. In the playoffs, the Flying Dutch finally managed to earn themselves a win, defeating the Polish Devils and securing themselves an 11th place finish.

The feel-good story of this pool was the Scottish Clansmen, who despite only winning one pool game managed to turn it on in the finals and upset the French before falling to the Welsh in the fifth-place playoff and finishing sixth overall – a strong result considering their start to the day.

Pool B:

The men’s mega-pool was full of drama, with no side willing to give an inch, however, the Irish Warriors looked to be the pick of the bunch and this proved to be true through the pool games. The lads went undefeated and earned themselves the top seed heading into finals.

The French Coqs were also in good form throughout the pool games, only losing to the Warriors but defeating each of the Welsh Red Dragons, Swiss Wolves and Polish Devils. The Welsh were the best of the rest, splitting their games after wins against the Wolves and Devils.

At the other end of the table, it was the Polish side that managed to avoid going winless, defeating the Swiss Wolves by nine points in a hotly contested affair.

In the finals however, it was a different story. Both the Irish and French faltered in their respective matchups, causing some major disappointment. In a shock upset, the Warriors were bested by the German Eagles, meaning the Irish had to settle for a spot in the third-place playoff where they held their nerve and defeated the Croatians to prevent going home empty handed. As for the French, surprisingly, they fell to the Scottish Clansmen in the battle for a fifth-place playoff berth and found themselves up against the Israeli Beasts in a match-up for seventh place. Fortunately for the French they steadied and managed to tame the Beasts and finish seventh overall.

It was the Red Dragons who put on the best finals display from this pool, finishing the day with consecutive victories, first against Israel and then against the Scottish Clansmen, ultimately finishing a very respectable fifth place.

Both the Polish Devils and the Swiss Wolves were unable to win any of their finals and finished in 12th and 13th respectively.

Pool C:

Pool C was the most difficult to pick heading into the days play and it didn’t disappoint. It was the Croatian Knights who were the pick of the lot, winning all three games including an eight-point victory against the German Eagles in what was likely the game of the day. The Eagles managed to win both of their other math-up against the Swedish Elks and Austrian Avalanche convincingly, meaning they finished the pool match-ups seeded in the top four despite the loss to the Croatians.

The Avalanche and Elks were both desperate to avoid going winless through the group stage and this was evident by the ferocity of their play. In their match-up against one another, just four points separated the two sides with the Austrians emerging the eventual winners.

The finals saw the Croatians almost pull off a five-goal comeback against the English, falling short by only six points before then losing in the third-place playoff against the Irish Warriors to finish fourth.

The German Eagles however, pulled off the upset of the tournament in their preliminary final by defeating the highly touted Irish Warriors by three goals. They followed it up with a valiant effort in the Grand Final but were ultimately outclassed by the English. Despite finishing runners-up, the Germans boisterous celebrations and team spirit stole the show.

After both winning their initial playoff games, the Elks and Avalanche found themselves matched-up again in the 9th place final and as was the tale of the day, no team was able to beat another twice. The Swedes managed to turn their pool form around and defeat the Austrians in yet another nail-biting affair. At days end, the Elks finished ninth while the Avalanche settled for tenth.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – JUNE 18: AFL Euro Cup 2022 at Inverleith Park on June 18, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo by Hans van der Valk/Orange Pictures)

Final Standings

Women’s Competition:

  1. Ireland
  2. England
  3. Scotland
  4. Wales
  5. Germany
  6. Netherlands
  7. France
  8. European Crusaders
  9. Sweden
  10. Poland
  11. Switzerland

Men’s Competition

  1. England
  2. Germany
  3. Ireland
  4. Croatia
  5. Wales
  6. Scotland
  7. France
  8. Israel
  9. Sweden
  10. Austria
  11. Netherlands
  12. Poland
  13. Switzerland

Golden Whistle – Walter Gibilaro

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – JUNE 18: AFL Euro Cup 2022 at Inverleith Park on June 18, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo by Hans van der Valk/Orange Pictures)

Women’s Team of the Tournament

England Vixens – Rania Turner-Ramadan

European Crusaders – Nina Lovengreen

French Gauloises – Myriam Allali

German Eagles – Theresa Kresse

Irish Banshees – Maria Quirke

Netherland Flying Dutch – Merel Van Ooijen

Polish Angels – Emilia Pruszkowski/Agnieska Bezraczko

Scottish Sirens – Orfhlaith McCaughey

Swedish Ravens – Stephanie Judge

Swiss Heidis – Claira Lea

Welsh Wyverns – Mary Pickard

Player of the Tournament – Swedish Ravens – Stephanie Judge

Men’s Team of the Tournament

Austrian Avalanche – Oliver Krajacic

Croatian Knights – Tomislav Cvetko

England Dragonslayers – Andrew Bernard Cochran

French Coqs – Anthony Boubet

German Eagles – Phillip Evermann

Irish Warriors – Conor Dunne

Israeli Beasts – Shir Maran

Netherland Flying Dutch – Yasin Alkan

Polish Devils – Piotr Pilichiewicz

Scottish Clansmen – Angus Mackintosh

Swedish Elks – Buster Sund

Swiss Wolves – Benoit Vittori

Welsh Red Dragons – Oliver Rees

Player of the Tournament – Polish Devils – Piotr Pilichiewicz

A huge thankyou to everyone who helped out with the tournament’s preparation and ensured the day ran smoothly. From our pitch managers and other volunteers to the players and coaches, your support made for a memorable return to Euro Cup action after a long hiatus and we couldn’t have done it without you.

A special shoutout to our umpires for volunteering their time to cover 60 games and (in some cases) run over 20 miles. Additionally, a big thankyou to AFL Scotland for all their hard work setting up the tournament in partnership with Edinburgh Leisure and Edinburgh Academical, ensuring we had somewhere to play and managing the event.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge Cllr Hal Osler of the Liberal Democratic’s Inverleith Ward for her support and for handing out the silverware on the day.

Well done to all for playing in such good spirits and representing their nations with pride – we look forward to seeing you all again in 2023.

  • Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe