IC17 – Round 1 Preview

The AFL International Cup is finally here!

It’s been a long three years since the last International Cup which saw Papua New Guinea and Canada take out the men’s and women’s competitions. This year’s IC will see 8 European team’s take part across 2 men’s and a women’s division. The two-week competition kicks off tomorrow at Royal Park with a huge schedule of matches across three fields.

Round 1 matches will be live streamed by the AFL on their International Cup YouTube channel (http://bit.ly/2wllThW).

Prior to each round we’ll be taking a quick look at our European teams match-ups as well as our umpire’s appointments.

GB Swans vs Pakistan – 8:45am – Royal Park, Ransford Oval

The reigning European Champions will be competing in their first International Cup and they’ll be opening their tournament against fellow newcomers, Pakistan. The Swans will be confident going in after being super competitive in all matches they’ve taken part since they started on the International scene in early 2016.

Head Coach, Garth Nevin, will have his side in supreme condition with plenty of focus on their strength and conditioning program throughout 2017. Key players from their side have completed strong seasons in the AFL London league so match fitness and touch shouldn’t be an issue.

The Swans will  need to be ready for an arm-wrestle early but should have the speed and skill to run out this game the better.

South Africa vs GB Bulldogs – 9:30am – Royal Park, McAlister Oval

One of the matches of the round. The Bulldogs open their campaign against IC14 4th place finishers, South Africa, and will thrive at the challenge to knock-off a tournament heavyweight early. Bulldogs coach, Dean Thomas, has been working closely with his side and will believe that they can take the step into the top echelon on IC competitors after sitting mid-pack for a number of years.

Their performance at last year’s European Championships indicts they are due to improve on the world stage after they comprehensively defeated Ireland in the final.

South Africa are the perfect test to start IC17 and the Bulldogs will use their fitness and strength to control the contest. The Bulldogs will have some very handy Australian-based players to add to their squad and their experience will be invaluable.

The well-drilled and structured Bulldogs will be in for a very tough game but it would be no surprise to see them pull away late in the last quarter and claim victory. Accuracy for goal will be key as no doubt there will be a couple of kicks in it.

PNG vs Irish Warriors – 11:15am – Royal Park, McAlister Oval

The IC14 Grand Final replay. What a way to open the 2017 edition of the International Cup with the two powerhouses of the tournament reigniting their rivalry straight up. Both sides will have already spent a week in Australia getting used to the conditions and for the bulk of the Irish squad, getting over the jet-lag.

PNG have had two warm-up games in preparation for this tournament so they’ll be red-hot from the get-go. The Warriors have had a hit-out against the University Blacks at Gosch’s Paddock so they’ll have blown out the cobwebs before this thrilling Round 1 encounter.

How the Irish control the speed and skill of PNG will be key. If they try to play them at their own game they’ll get beaten but the Irish pride themselves on out-thinking teams. The Irish are coming off 2 losses in major tournaments and are hungrier than ever to reclaim their spot as the top International football side.

The Irish know how to win big games and big tournaments. They’ll have a well prepared game plan on how to take down the boys from PNG and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they continued their unbeaten IC first round record.

Pakistan vs German Eagles – 11:15am – Royal Park, Western Oval

The German Eagles kick-off their IC17 tournament against Pakistan who will be playing in their second IC after debuting in 2014. The Eagles will be a very tough opponent in Division 2 after being a competitive outfit at last years European Championships.

The Eagles will be making the IC debut and won’t be taking it lightly with their sights set firmly on going far in the second tier of the men’s competition. Pakistan struggled at the last IC but slipped into the top division after the grading rounds. No doubt they’ve improved over the past three years but the experience Germany gained from the European Championships will hold them in a good position to take it right up to the Pakistani’s.

Germany should have dominant ruckmen and with some very good midfielders at their feet this should prove too much for their round 1 opponents. Look for the Eagles to open their accounts with a ‘W’.

PNG vs European Crusaders – 12:15pm – Royal Park, Ransford Oval

If the PNG women play anything like their men then the Crusaders could be in some trouble. They’ll be making their return to the International stage after debuting in 2011.

The Crusaders are a mixed group of women from across Europe and their biggest battle will be how quickly they gel together as a team.

The bulk of the Crusaders squad comes from France and with some key personnel based in Australia they should be a very competitive team in the women’s division. The Crusaders will go into this one determined to show the competition that they aren’t here to make up the numbers which will spell trouble for the PNG women.

Expect the Crusaders to play quick, direct football that could play into the hands of PNG but they should come out on top in a close, low-scoring encounter.

Croatian Knights vs China – 1:00pm – Royal Park, Western Oval

The mighty Knights debut at the IC against three-time competitors, China. We all know how strong and powerful the Croatians are at the 9-a-side format so this game will be a real test to see how quickly they adapt to the large spaces of Western Oval.

The Chinese will be tough opponent first up especially with the recent focus of Aussie Rules this year with the first-ever AFL match played on their shores. No doubt they take some inspiration from this match and take it right up to the Croatians.

Croatia should out muscle most sides in the competition so they’ll need to play to this strength. If they allow China to play an outside game then they could be in trouble. Stoppage, contested football will be their best-friend over the next two weeks. Expect the Knights to push the ball forward all day and claim a historic first-round victory.

Irish Banshees vs USA – 2:00pm – Royal Park, Ransford Oval

The IC14 women’s runners-up will be back with a vengeance at this year’s tournament. Expect them to come out firing on all cylinders against the USA and they’ll have a point to prove after coming up short at last year’s European Championships as well. They’ll be far better for the experience and with the added strength of their Australian-based players will see them want to flex their muscle on the competition from the beginning.

The Banshees have some very strong inside midfielders and once they get the ball moving forward they’ll be very difficult to stop. The USA could be up against it early as the Irish look to reassert their dominance as an International powerhouse.

Fiji vs French Coqs – 2:45pm – Royal Park, McAlister Oval

It’s a great first match up for the French Coqs. The Coqs will be competing in their third consecutive IC and each tournament they’ve shown improvement. The development of their domestic competition over the past three years should see a vastly improved French outfit come August 6 and they’ll need to be as they enter this year’s tournament in the top division from the get go.

Coach, Andrew Unsworth, will have the boys prepped with a well thought-out game plan that should see them competitive against all sides. The Fijians are tipped to show the most improvement since IC14 but that won’t rattle the Frenchmen.

The French have some very good forwards who will be a real handful for the Fijians. The key will be winning it out of the midfield and providing quick forward 50 entries. Winning in the middle holds the key to the French impacting the game and look out if they do.

Most would pencil Fiji for a first up victory but the French will surprise a few this tournament and it wouldn’t surprise anyone in Europe if they jump the Fijians early and took the ‘W’.

Umpire Appointments

Oscar Ayyadi – PNG vs European Crusaders – 12:15pm – Royal Park, Ransford Oval

Oscar will be the first of the European umpires to take the field in Melbourne when he officiates the PNG vs European Crusaders women’s game. He has been in good form in the AFL London season and finished with a very difficult preliminary final so he’ll be well and truly on the ball come August 6.

 

Geoff Pascoe – Croatian Knights vs China – 1:00pm – Royal Park, Western Oval

Geoff opens his IC17 campaign in a tough encounter between men’s division 2 contenders Croatia and China. He was awarded the golden whistle at last year’s European Championships and will be looking to continue his strong form at major tournaments with what will be a challenging first game.

 

Josh Davey – Canada vs USA – 1:00pm – Royal Park, McAlister Oval

Josh has been allocated a real blockbuster for round 1 when the Canadian and USA men lock horns in a brutal first up game. The two sides are both renowned for their physicality and hard-hits. No doubt he’ll be busy as the two evenly matched sides will be looking to assert their dominance early on.

 

Hayden Charles – South Africa vs GB Bulldogs – 9:30am – Royal Park, McAlister Oval

Haydos has been a late inclusion to the AFL Europe umpiring contingent after recently relocating back to Australia after many years based in London. The 2016 Euro Cup Golden Whistle winner has been appointed a huge match first up with South Africa and GB Bulldogs locking horns early on Sunday morning.

IC17 Tournament Preview – GB Bulldogs

The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. In the last of our tournament previews we’ll take a look at last year’s European Champions, the Great Britain Bulldogs.

History of the Bulldogs

The Bulldogs formed in the early 1990s to compete in the Atlantic Alliance Cup against the likes of Denmark, Ireland and the USA. They have competed in all International Cups and European Championships since the tournaments inception.

The Bulldogs have played the most competitive 18-a-side matches of any side competing at this year’s IC with 59 matches. Their best International Cup resulted in a 6th place finish in both 2002 and 2005.

Last IC and European Championships

The Bulldogs entered IC14 as the 7th seeds and were optimistic to push for their first semi-final berth. They started their campaign with 83-point victory to European counterparts, France, but were beaten in a lower scoring hit-out against Nauru in the second-round game. Their third-round encounter was a make or break match against Fiji but it was the Fijians who ran out 16-point victors.

Following the opening rounds, the Bulldogs were coming from a long way back in 10th place and were scheduled for a rematch against Nauru. They didn’t get their revenge and were again beaten by just 16-points putting them into a 9th place playoff against another team they had played before in Fiji. They prevailed in that rematch in a low scoring 37 to 19-point final game.

The 2016 European Championships held in London pitted the Bulldogs against arch-rivals Ireland, Germany and Sweden. After dropping their group match against the Irish, they returned in the final to control the game from start to finish and claimed their first European Championships with a resounding 51 to 29-point win.

The confidence taken from this tournament has driven them over the past 12 months. They’ll be in the best shape of any GB side that has been out to an IC and big things will be expected both internally and externally.

IC17 Fixtures

Round 1: vs South Africa

Round 2: vs Canada

Round 3: vs Ireland

Round 4: vs Fiji

Grand Finals: vs TBC

Player to Watch

Jack Coughlan

The high-leading forward is the leading goal-kicker for Bulldogs with 17 goals from his 7 games. The North London Lion and University of Birmingham product will be a difficult match-up for most sides and should extend his tally out in Australia.

If Coughlan can get the ball in his hands he’ll win games for GB. With some big key position players getting the attention from the opposition he should be able to work his man over and get on the end of a few.

IC17 Crystal Ball

The Bulldogs will be disappointed with anything less than a top 4 finish and rightly so after claiming their first European Championships crown in 2016. Some solid Australian-based Brit inclusions will only strengthen their chances and coupled with the high-pressure game plan instilled by coach Dean Thomas they should be the big movers come August.

The result of their round 1 match against South Africa will be their biggest match to date. If they win it signals that the Bulldogs are the real deal. Lose, and it could be a long two weeks knowing they’re up against the odds.

A physical Canadian outfit meets them in round 2 before they reignite their fierce rivalry with Ireland. They finish off the rounds with a game they will expect to win against Fiji. They won and lost against the Fijians in 2014 so the Bulldogs will be wanting to put the ledger in their favour.

IC17 is the chance for the GB Bulldogs to make a real impact in world footy. They are a fit, young squad who’ll be supremely well drilled. We’re expecting big things from the Brits!

 

Historic day for football in London!

Historic day for football in London!

The 2017 AFL London season comes to a climax this Saturday as a carnival atmosphere greets Clapham Common in what will be an historic day of Grand Finals for the league. In addition to the football action there will also be plenty happening off the field to keep the crowd entertained with a fully stocked bar, quality coffee, street food trucks, competitions, prizes and giveaways. Entry is free with the first match at 9:30am and the last starting 4:00pm, on Clapham Common north side – more information can be found via the Facebook event.

For the first time five Premiership Cups will be contested on the day due to the expansion of the women’s game to a second division this year. This represents an admirable achievement for a league that first introduced women’s football only in 2015. A stellar season from the Wandsworth Demons, which saw four of their five teams finish minor premiers, continued through the finals with all teams reaching the Grand Final on their home ground. However, in a league often prone to upsets at this stage of the season and the Demons depth set to be tested, there are no certainties come Saturday.

The day begins with the Men’s Social division, which sees two-time reigning premiers Wandsworth Demons up against the Bounds Green based club, North London Lions. Having finished third on the ladder the Lions had to take the long route to the final, although easily knocking out both the Wimbledon Hawks and Ealing Emus. This good form should help them against an experienced Wandsworth side looking to make history with the first ‘three-peat’ for the division.

In the second match it will be an age old battle for a brand new cup as West London Wildcats do battle with the Wandsworth Demons for the first ever AFL London Women’s Conference Premiership. For a club with such high footballing standards, it was little surprise West London’s inaugural women’s team proved to be a powerhouse of the division, going undefeated through the season. Wandsworth, having broken the hearts of the London Swans with a last minute goal to pinch a grand final berth, will need to try and nullify the strong run and carry game of the Wildcats to give themselves a chance.

Last year in the Men’s Conference Division the Demons were able to break a six year premiership run for West London’s Shepherds Bush Raiders in a three-point classic, and revenge will be on the Raiders minds as they line up once again this year. To say the Raiders have had a stranglehold on this division would be an understatement, having only lost the cup twice, both times to the Demons. This just adds even more spice to an already fiery rivalry between these two largest London football clubs.

Following this contest the South East London Giants will be forging new ground as they appear in their first ever AFL London Grand Final, in the Women’s Premiership match against the Demons. Whilst the Giants will be vying for their first ever silverware, the Demons will be looking to become the first club to win two women’s premierships, having won the inaugural cup back in 2015, and with a strong showing all season they will start as favourites.

In the final match of the day it’s another north vs south battle with the Lions taking on the Demons as they are in the Men’s Social. Also similarly to the Social grade, the Lions have had to fight their way from third place to have their chance of glory. However, this is not unfamiliar territory for the Lions having claimed the 2015 Men’s Premiership Cup from third place in a one point thriller. The Demons have had the stronger season having lost only once and possess depth and balance across the ground, so should feel they have the fire power to come away with the victory. Interestingly the last time these two teams met in the Grand Final was in 2012, when again the Lions were able to come away with a win by a solitary point, so the Demons won’t fancy a close game and will surely look to snuff out the Lions early.

AFL London 2017 Grand Finals on Clapham Common, from 9:30am to 6pm this Saturday 5th August.

IC17 Tournament Preview – ALFA Irish Banshees

The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews is 2011 IC winners, the ALFA Irish Banshees. 

History of the Banshees

The Irish Banshees have been competing Internationally since 2010 when they played Italy at the Euro Cup in Milan. The team have an unbeaten record at the Euro Cup and were the winners of the inaugural International Cup for women in 2011.

They competed in the first women’s European Championship held in London last year and were winners of the first women’s London Footy Carnival held in May this year.

Last IC and European Championships

The Banshees went into IC14 as reigning champions and kicked off their campaign with a huge 61-point win. It was much of the same against Tonga, USA Liberty and Canadian Midnight Suns for the remainder of their round robin games amassing a total of 278-points for and only 33-points against.

Stunningly this wasn’t good even to secure top spot with Canada’s first team, the Northern Lights, claiming the podium with a percentage of 1890. It meant the two were to face-off in another IC final after the Banshees won the previous edition 39 to 8.

Unfortunately for the Banshees is was the Canadians who proved too strong in this encounter with the score line reading 5.8 (38) to 2.0 (12).

It was a similar story at last year’s European Championships as the Banshees fell short by a kick to new-comers the GB Swans. It was a testing couple of days in London but the Swans held on for a memorable victory in tough conditions.

IC Fixtures

Round 1: vs USA

Round 2: vs European Crusaders

Round 3: vs PNG

Semi-Finals: vs TBC

Grand Finals: vs TBC

Player to Watch

Onora Mulcahy

The in-and-under midfielder must have a huge tournament if the Irish are to reclaim their title. Her work on the inside contest is imperative to the Irish moving the ball forward. This coupled with her tackle pressure mean she’ll have a big say in how the tournament pans out for the Banshees.

IC17 Crystal Ball

It’s set to be a huge tournament for the Banshees. They’ll be out to claim revenge and take back their crown as IC champions. Many regard the Irish and Canadians as a level above the rest at the IC and they’ll both be expected to square off again in the final.

But they’ll have to knock off a host of teams looking to take it to them first with USA, European Crusaders and PNG opponents in the opening rounds. If the draw plays true to form this should have them playing against the GB Swans in the semi-final and will be a huge game for European footy.

The Irish come to International tournaments to win and if they fall short they’ll be shattered with the result. Expect them to feature heavily at the pointy end of the competition.

IC17 Tournament Preview – GB Swans

The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews are European Champions and IC first-timers, the Great Britain Swans. 

History of the Swans

The Swans will be just over a year old when they compete at IC17. 2016 saw the launch of the Swans as they prepared to compete at the first-ever European Championships in August that year.

They competed in the AFL Europe Champions League and AFL London Preseason Cup, winning both, before going on to knock off arch-rivals, the Irish Banshees, in a low-scoring European Championship final.

Women’s footy in the UK has seen massive growth in recent years. In London especially, there are 8 women’s teams across 2 divisions. Player numbers are growing in Scotland, Wales, and the Central North England which is unearthing new talent for the Swans on a weekly basis.

Last IC and European Championships

This will be the first International Cup for the Swans but that won’t stop them being a big player in this year’s competition. They’ve won just about every tournament they’ve entered since their inception and will be hoping for similar success come August.

They have a fierce rivalry with previous IC winners, the Irish Banshees, and after knocking them off in last year European Championships will be confident that they can make an impression on the competition. The Swans and Banshees traded wins throughout that tournament but it was the Swans who played the tricky conditions better and claimed victory in the final.

They’ll take a lot of confidence from this and have kept working tirelessly on their fitness base and skills in the lead up to this tournament.

IC17 Fixtures

Round 1: vs Pakistan

Round 2: vs Fiji

Round 3: vs Canada

Semi-Finals: vs TBC

Grand Finals: vs TBC

Player to Watch

Caroline Sellar

The Glasgow Sharks product was honored with the Swans vice captaincy earlier this year after strong performances in the London Footy Carnival against the Irish Banshees, Canada Midnight Suns and London All-Stars.

The strong power-forward has been travelling down to London throughout the season to increase her 18-a-side experience with the South East London Giants where she has played a crucial role in their lead up to the finals. Sellar will be a key member in the Swans forward line and should trouble most opposition defenders. She has played in all 8 Swans games to date and will need to draw on the tournament experience gained at European Championships and London Footy Carnival to propel the Swans into the semi-finals.

IC17 Crystal Ball

Head Coach, Garth Nevin, has the Swans finely tuned for the August tournament and despite an unfortunate run of injuries will be disappointed if they are not in contention when the semi-finals are played on the second Tuesday.

A rigorous training program should see the Swans as one of the fittest sides in the competition and if they use this to their advantage should find them overpowering sides deep in matches and during the latter part of the tournament.

They take on Pakistan and Fiji in their opening two encounters and will be expected to win both of those. This will set up a huge match against reigning champions, Canada, in the community round.

To win they’ll have to run the Canadians off their feet. If the games played in close the strength and aggression of the Canadians could prove too much.

IC17 Tournament Preview – French Coqs

The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews is 2011 and 2014 IC veterans, the French Coqs.

History of the Coqs

The first French national side appeared at the then ‘EU’ Cup in London in 2005. They have competed in every Euro Cup since then and their best result in the annual 9-a-side competition a 2nd at their home tournament in Bordeaux, 2013.

The French side first competed in the International Cup in 2011 and this is where their nickname the Coqs was born. The Coqs finished 14th in this tournament before improving on this in their next attempt in 2014.

The French league, the CNFA, has grown from strength to strength in recent years and this has transitioned into their national side. Playing against expat Australian’s each year for the ANZAC Cup has provided good exposure to some very high-quality footballers.

Last IC and European Championships

The French competed in their second International Cup last time around and showed significant improvement.

They opened the tournament against European counterparts, the GB Bulldogs, and went down by 83-points. They moved onto the next round against eventual finalists, Ireland, and got taught a tough lesson. With only two scoring shots they fell short by 111 to 2.

Two very tough first up encounters put them in good stead going into their third game and blitzed Indonesia in Diggers Rest. They won by a huge 106-points and regained some confidence moving into the final two games.

They finished in 12th place after three rounds which sat them in the Division 1 final series and they drew the notoriously physical Canadians. They fought hard but the Canadians prevailed, winning 9.15 (69) to 2.3 (15).

They saved their best game for last and turned it on against Pakistan in the 11th place playoff. They lead from start to finish and claimed the 11th place with a resounding 81-point victory.

The French did not compete at last year’s European Championships.

IC17 Fixtures

Round 1: vs Fiji

Round 2: vs Ireland

Round 3: vs Nauru

Round 4: vs USA

Grand Finals: vs TBC

Player to Watch

Pierre Lechasles

The tall forward from the Lyon has had a breakout year in the CNFA. In only his second year of Aussie Rules his progress has been astronomical.

He was part of the ALFA Lions side that claimed the CNFA title earlier this year and played a major role for the French side against Australia in the ANZAC Cup. He was awarded best on ground honours in that game with his pace off the mark and strong hands the focal point to his game.

Pierre will be a strong forward and will need to play his best to help the Coqs in what will be a very difficult tournament for them.

IC17 Crystal Ball

The French will be taking on the world’s best in the top division at IC17 and are up for the challenge. The improvement in French football over the past few years has been rapid and they shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Coach, Andrew Unsworth, will have them well prepared for each of their opposition with none more important than their round 1 match-up against Fiji. This game is huge for them and will be one they’ll go into expecting to win.

Tough subsequent rounds against Ireland and Nauru will give the Coqs a shot at two of the top sides in the competition. They’ll go into these are big underdogs but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them taking these sides right to the brink.

A final round match against the USA will give them the chance to show that they aren’t just making up the numbers in the top division and that they mean business.

Their rank suggests they’ll do it tough in Division 1 but beware the French Coqs. They could be a real smokey in this division and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them knock off teams that don’t come prepared to play a hard match.

 

IC17 Tournament Preview – Croatian Knights

The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews are IC newcomers, the Croatian Knights.

History of the Knights

The Croatian Knights were formed in 2006-2007 and have been a real dominant force in European footy since the get-go. They have a thriving national league as well as playing in the Central European league against teams from Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic.

They are the second most decorated team at the Euro Cup with two championships and 3 runners-up finishes. They’ve competed in two European Championships and were strong opponents in both of those full format tournaments.

Last IC and European Championships

This will be first International Cup for the Croatians and it has been a huge effort to get the side over to the competition. The mastermind of Croatian footy, Josip Kravar, has barely slept over the past few months working round the clock to make sure the Knights are in attendance. He and his team are going to give the competition a real shake-up.

The Croatians didn’t compete at last year’s European Championship but were competitors at the 2010 and 2013 tournaments. Both tournaments they finished 5th.

IC Fixtures

Round 1: vs China

Round 2: vs Indonesia

Round 3: vs Sri Lanka

Round 4: Semi-Finals

Round 5: Grand Finals

Player to Watch

Tomislav Cvetko

Big Tomi is an icon of European football. He’s dominated European competitions for the best part of a decade with his powerful marking and goal kicking.

Standing at 1.88m and 90kg he’s going to be a hard man to match up on. Tomi recently travelled over to Australia to finalise his preparations and is training with the Norwood FC. He’ll be coming in hot for the tournament and should be supremely fit.

Best of luck for the defenders who get to the job to mark the big Croat. We wish you all the best.

IC17 Crystal Ball 

The Knights are going to Australia to win. If they fall short they’ll be shattered. They’re well place to take out division two and will have the strength and power to out-muscle their opposition.

It would be an ideal division 2 final if they were to face-off with the German Eagles and this would be a real showdown.

Taking on China in round 1 will be a great way for them to debut at the International Cup. It’ll be a tough game and how they adapt to playing on the full ground after a number of years restricted to 9s will be interesting. Adapting quickly will be key as the Chinese won’t be taking this lightly and will still be on a high after the first ever AFL match on their shores earlier this year.

Their remaining pool games against Indonesia and Sri Lanka they’ll be expecting to be too strong and gives them the opportunity to place themselves at the top of their group.

 

IC17 Tournament Preview – European Crusaders

The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews are the European Crusaders. 

History of the Crusaders

The Crusaders concept first came to fruition to provide smaller nations with the opportunity to play in European tournaments when their home country was unable to send a team.

The Crusaders women first played at the Edinburgh edition of the Euro Cup in 2012. They’ve played in Euro Cup tournaments since but got their first taste of 18-a-side action in last year’s European Championships held in London.

The 2017 Crusaders have a strong management team behind led by Fanny Maillet and Berengere Portal from France. The effort put in to get this team to IC17 is phenomenal and the experience is sure to be exceptional.

Last IC and European Championships

This will be the first International Cup for the European Crusaders.

A core group of their players were members of the Crusaders squad that competed in the European Championships in London last year which will hold them in good stead. Despite not registering a win in the tournament the experience for the players involved was invaluable.

IC Fixtures

Round 1: vs PNG

Round 2: vs Irish Banshees

Round 3: vs USA

Semi-Finals: vs TBC

Grand Finals: vs TBC

Player to Watch

Camille Portal

The Frenchwoman has blistering speed and has developed her skills to a superb level over the past couple of years. Camille will be hard to match up on in space and if given the time with the footy by her opposition is going to cause some real headaches and give her forward line great service.

IC Crystal Ball

For the Crusaders, it comes down to how quickly they can start playing together as a team. They’ve got a group of women from all over the globe and learning how each other plays as quick as possible will determine how far they go at IC17.

They’ll be a real unknown for their competitors. It will be a significantly different side to the one that took the field at the European Championships in London last year.

A first-round match against PNG will be a toss of the coin. The winner of this could really shape their group. A huge encounter with the Irish Banshees will be a true measure of the Crusaders ability and having a game under their belt to gel as a team will keep the Banshees on their toes.

USA round out their group games on the middle Sunday and they’ll going into this one with high hopes.

As we’ve said, it all comes down to how well they gel as a team. If they build chemistry quickly the rest of the competition will have to take note. The Crusaders could be a real danger.

IC17 Umpire Spotlight – Oscar Ayyadi

Name:

Oscar Ayyadi

Age: 

23

Nationality:

British with Irish and Moroccan parents

Playing experience: 

I played fleetingly with my cousins, but never stepped up to playing in the domestic league here in London. My granddad had 6 brothers who all moved to Australia, they brought the game code and my love was formed early on. I watched it religiously.

How you became an umpire: 

I refereed to Level 4 standard in ‘soccer’ refereeing only stopping two years ago, in 2010 I saw a add pop up looking for umpires and thought why not! Got in contact with Shane Hill, who was the umpires manager then and umpired my first game with Luke Shaw down at Motspur Park! To say Shawry carried me through the game is an understatement!

Accomplishments:

Obviously umpiring the premiership grand final in London in 2015 was a highlight, but I can’t look beyond my biggest achievement which is having the privilege to umpire at IC.

 

 

IC17 Selection: 

We were selected for European Championship in 2016 and was assessed and coached by Adam Davis who is the National Umpires Development Manager. We went through a rigorous week of officiating and training but bonded amazing well as a group of umpires. After that tournament I was ranked in the top 3 umpires and earned selection to IC.

Preparation for the IC:

I’m umpiring here in London, week in week out alongside training with the umpires in London weekly and personally training. I’m also doing a lot of research and watching as much footy as possible to pick up tips for the senior umpires. One of the key area I want to develop over this season is my consistently with bouncing, so I can be on par with the home grown umpires in Australia.

IC17 Tournament Preview – German Eagles

The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews are IC newcomers, the German Eagles. 

History of the Eagles

The German Eagles were founded in 2006 and have been participants in Euro Cup’s and European Championships since they began.

The Eagles have placed in the top four of the 9-a-side Euro Cup 4 times and have improved their European Championship ranking at each of the three tournaments.

They’ve developed nicely alongside their national league, AFLG. This year’s International Cup attendance marks the next stage of their development and provides them with the opportunity to test themselves on the world stage.

Last IC and European Championships

This will be the first International Cup for Germany and is a credit to their management to get the side over to Australia.

It’s been a huge 18 months of preparation for the side as they competed in the European Championships claiming a 3rd place in a thrilling minor final against Sweden.

They were competitive in their games at the Champs last year but fell off in final quarters which blew out the score line against the top two sides. The experience will be invaluable and knowing how to prepare in a tournament environment will be beneficial for the Eagles.

IC17 Fixtures

Round 1: vs Pakistan

Round 2: vs India

Round 3: vs Japan

Semi-Finals: TBC

Grand Finals: TBC

Player to Watch

Jakob Jung

Jakob is a former member of the European Legion squads that played against the AIS-AFL Academy each year. He’s played against some very high-level footballers going head to head with the likes of Isaac Heeney.

He is fit, very strong and is skilled on both sides of the body. He was at stand-out performer in last year’s European Championships for the Germans despite getting very close attention each game from the opposition.

Jakob will thrive on the big stage and will be one of the best midfielders in the competition. How he plays over the two-weeks will have a big say in how far Germany go in Division 2.

IC17 Crystal Ball

The Eagles will be a very strong competitor in Division 2. They’ve been placed in a pool with Pakistan, India and Japan and will go into each of these games with confidence knowing they’ve played and competed for periods of games against Division 1 quality opposition in the GB Bulldogs and Irish Warriors.

The week spent in London last summer will do wonders for the Germans when they arrive in Australia and they’ll need to tap into everything they’ve learnt to knock off round 1 opponent, Pakistan.

They should be too strong for India in round 2 but will come up against an IC regular in Japan for their final group game.

A semi-final berth is expected for the Germans and they should realistically challenge for the Division 2 title.