2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part Three

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competition formats across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe, UK and Ireland.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on our youtube channel here.

In part three of the previews, the teams featured include  Oileán Hounds, Northern Griffins and Belfast Redbacks.

Women’s Competition:

Oileán Hounds

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

It has been great. We have big numbers at training. The intensity has been high and the girls are ready to play on April 1st.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

We have a very strong squad this year. There will be quite a few of our players showing off their skills.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

One player sustained an injury a few weeks back that has ruled her out of competing in the blitz. But she is determined to make the trip regardless and will be a massive support from the sidelines for the hounds. We have a big squad with talented reserve players so our squad still stands at 16 strong.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Amsterdam was a great location but it is nice to visit a new City. The team is very excited as the facilities look amazing in Paris.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

To enjoy every moment of the experience and to finish off the tournament as CL Winners for 2023.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Getting to meet other teams from all over Europe and to share this amazing experience with each other.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

It all depends who is in the best position to take the shot in that moment. I trust any of our players to take that shot and score.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

There are a lot of teams who we have not seen play this year so there is potential for any team to be a threat. We will not be complacent. One game at a time, one team at a time until the very end.

Northern Griffins

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

The French season runs over winter, so we’re coming to the business end of the season here. We had the Gallia Cup in early March, fielding separate Paris and Lyon teams, this is our first game back as the Northern Griffins!

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Apart from Pauline, our ruck Manon-Gabrielle Jarasse is gaining experience and a real force to reckoned with. Look for Lucie Simoneau off the half-back line, give her an inch and she’ll take a bounce or two!

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

This is the first time our team will be present under the banner of the Northern Griffins. The unit of players has grown in both Lyon and Paris, pushing the women’s competition in France to the next level!

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

As hosts, we are delighted to welcome all the best teams in Europe to play on our home turf. This is our first foray at the CL, but we’re hoping to be back many times in the future! The change to Paris certainly makes it easier for us to get here on the day!

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We just wanna kick goals and have fun playing the very best footy we can. If we can get some wins on the board and take on the more experienced teams in the afternoon, that would be a huge result!

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Being able to play against so many different teams! For now, we only have 2 women’s teams in France, so a change of opponent is always appreciated as it is a great opportunity to improve

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Pauline Clément, she kicked 6 goals in the Gallia Cup tournament, she knows where they are, and can give the ball a roost!

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Cork Vikings, the Irish lasses are always dangerous and that’s certainly true of the Cork teams we’ve seen.

Men’s Competition:

Belfast Redbacks

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We have been training as a squad since mid-January and had a number of in-house trial games. Training sessions have seen good consistently high numbers and we feel preparation to date has gone very well.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Every player. Hopefully we can display some of our exciting football skills and we look forward to seeing all other teams and getting to watch as many teams play as possible.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

No.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

We love visiting cities in Europe for tournaments and we hope for the chance to return to Amsterdam in the future. We like the idea of European tournaments rotating through many of its participants capitals and beautiful cities. This is a great chance for our players to play some footy in Paris again and we are really looking forward to the weekend.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We would love to go all the way to the Grand Final at this years tournament, but we know that with the current standard of footy in Europe this is a monumental task to achieve. We have somehow ended up in a very difficult group and do not underestimate the challenges we will face in the group stages. We will have to be at our very best to qualify for a top 4 chance in semi-finals.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Everything about it! Getting to see all the other teams play, meeting other players and coaches, appreciating the level and standard of footy we have the opportunity to play against as champions of AFL Ireland, it’s the most prestigious AFL club tournament outside of Australia.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Any player… everyone has nerves of steel in our team!

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

There are too many to highlight one, it will be a very tough competition.

2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part Two

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competition formats across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe, UK and Ireland.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on our YouTube channel here.

In part two of the previews, the teams featured include Cardiff Panthers, Vienna Galahs, Oslo Crows and

Women’s Competition:

Cardiff Panthers

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We’ve had a few ups and downs with players having to drop out but overall I think everyone is excited and looking forward to showing Europe that the Welsh are a force to be reckoned with!

We’ve definitely turned up a notch as a team, as we know this is going to be a different level from the general league. A lot of us have experience playing at the National & International level, and I think those experiences will help to prepare the team for an event like this.

We recently held a pre-season tournament, Dragon Cup which we won and it was the perfect opportunity to have a run out as a squad before Champions League.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

This is a tough one! I think we have strong players across all aspects of the field, and we all bring different strengths at different moments. If I had to pick players across the field right now; Kelsy Dyer (forward), Hannah Layton (mids), and Elise Cafolla (backs).

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

Over the last few weeks there have been changes to our initial player roster due to injury and other circumstances. I wouldn’t say these are necessarily major – in fact I think we are more prepared thinking about positioning, rotations and where our strengths lie.

Our usual coach, Calumn Newman will be competing for the Men’s team and so we have Jay Treloar, the North London Lions & GB Swans coach travelling to coach us.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

There was some disappointment as many of us have been to Paris previously and it would have been fantastic to play at the iconic Amsterdam venue, however the facilities in Paris look great and we’re excited to have our own designated changing room to blast the pre-match tunes in!

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

To perform to the best of our abilities, to make ourselves and our club proud and to win games and have a good time!

We have a great team approach to game/tournament days, and an even stronger work ethic. We’re looking forward to going out there and giving it everything we have, and leaving with a statement.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

It’s our first time competing in CL, so I suppose we will have a lot more to say about our favourite parts once we’re there! It’s the first time the Panthers women have entered, and both Men’s & Women’s Panthers teams are attending. It’s historical, and I think that’s likely to be a favourite part for us – doing it together.

We’re also really looking forward to competing against the best teams in Europe!

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Kelsy Dyer, she remains calm under pressure, has one hell of a boot on her and probably has the best scoring record in the whole of Wales!

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Definitely the Cork Vikings!

Men’s Competition:

Vienna Galahs

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

Our preparation has been solid so far this year.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Be on the lookout for Max Tomek’s great marking abilities and Pablo Caldarola’s coolness under pressure.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

Unfortunately, many of our core team could not make the trip for various reasons. Skipper Kieran Doohan, Ronan & Kagan Cott, Paul Bale, Reece Tyrrell, Tom Barron, Jacob Hand just to name a few.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Travelling time to Amsterdam or Paris is about the same from Vienna. The facility in Paris looks splendid though.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Our ambition is to compete as a mid-tier club at the champions league. We might get away with a sneaky win against one or two of the favoured teams.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Our favourite part about competing this year is that it’s given our club an early goal for the season, giving purpose to our training.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Kieran Kellett would be most trusted to kick a goal after the siren

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

We’re not concerned with other teams.

Oslo Crows

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We have snow cover all winter, so we haven’t had much outdoor experience since summer last year. We’re hoping our indoor training will pay off.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

A few hot rookies coming in (Stew and Willis), plus some seasoned Norwegian veterans who have improved their game (Eivind and Poppe)

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

In relation to the last tournament we played in? We’ve got a few stronger locals and a few younger imports, so should be a fun tournament.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Amsterdam was fun and cheap, but we’re excited about a new city and some wine and baguettes.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Getting out of the pool stage in the top 2.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Mostly the pre party and the after party.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Matt Scully.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

We’ll see on the day.

 

2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part One

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competitions across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe, UK and Ireland.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on our YouTube channel here.

In part one of the previews, we take a look at the hosts of the tournament, Paris Cockatoos, as well as the men’s and women’s Edinburgh Bloods sides.

Men’s Competition:

Paris Cockatoos

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We have been in pretty good form, consistent and not many injuries. So hopefully that will hold us in good stead for the tournament.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Clement Dony. Once you see those shorts you won’t be able to look away.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

Nothing major, we have been pretty settled for the last couple of years.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

As the home club we are looking forward to hosting everyone and hope they have a good experience in Paris. We do like a trip away together though.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We are in it to win it.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Playing very competitive footy and getting together with clubs from all over Europe.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Julien Dagois.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Good question, there are several teams we haven’t seen before/haven’t seen for a while so I guess we’ll find out on the day.

Edinburgh Bloods

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

It’s been great. We have had brilliant numbers at training and the excitement is there to improve on what we produced last year.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Both non-Australians. Sam Stokes will be looking to repeat his effort to be in the Champions League Team of the Year. We are excited to see what Jack Kennedy can do in his first European tournament after finishing Runner-Up in the club best and fairest in his debut season.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

Adam Governi has joined Jim Brosnan as a co-coach of the men’s team this season. 13 of the Bloods premiership winning side will be in action at Champions League.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Excited. We are looking forward to the change, and we have a big off-field contingent coming along with many taking the opportunity for a short city break.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We would like to establish ourselves in the top half of the competition. If we can get there, who knows what can happen and if we can take a scalp and break into the top four.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

The competition is phenomenal and really sets our season off in a great way. We always learn a lot from other teams we play against and see where we can improve. The social element of the competition is always a highlight to catch up with familiar faces from across the AFL Europe community.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

We’re lucky to have a few that you would be comfortable with taking the shot. From the Aussies – Jake Van Meel hits them sweetly. From the local – Captain Fraser Smith would be the pick.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Hard to go past the Irish teams and the West London Wildcats. We’re also very excited to see what we get from Amsterdam and what Paris can produce in their first home tournament.

Women’s Competition:

Edinburgh Bloods

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

It’s been really positive in terms of numbers on the training track. We have had a couple of recent injuries with the ladies that play rugby through the winter – but we’re confident they will be fully fit for Paris.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Laoise Casserly has been in brilliant form on the training track and is raring to go. We are also confident of big things from Charlotte Blair after her development last season.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

No major changes in the Bloods women’s. They are still led by coach Sian Furniss and captain Lorna Murdoch.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Excited. We are looking forward to the change and we have a few new faces to the team and what a way to introduce them. We have a big off-field contingent coming along with many taking the opportunity for a short city break.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We finished fourth in our first Champions League last year in Amsterdam so would love to repeat that. We do have a tough draw on the day so will need to be at our best.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Our girls that came to Champions League last season loved the whole experience. It’s such a brilliant tournament to play in and see how the best teams in Europe go about their game style.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Jenny Potter has really developed her game over the last 12 months. She kicked a critical goal late for Scotland in the Euro Cup so we would be hoping she could do the same for the Bloods if required.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

The Irish teams and the London teams have set the bar high in the past. We have tough pool matches against them all so fingers crossed we can cause some upsets.

 

AFL Europe Statement – Champions League 2023

AFL Europe has recently become aware that a rule introduced in 2020 that would have deemed the defending champions, the Amsterdam Devils, ineligible for this year’s Champions League tournament, was inadvertently not applied.

This unfortunate error was uncovered after AFL Europe had already invited the Devils to participate in this year’s event.

Understandably, this oversight and action may have caused some frustration in our community; however, it was an honest mistake, and in the spirit of good sportsmanship, and to appropriately manage the commitments made by various members of the community, AFL Europe stand by this decision and will allow the Devils to participate in the 2023 Champion’s League tournament.

Yours sincerely,

AFL Europe Commission.

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