The 2022 Euro Cup saw 24 national teams journey to Edinburgh, Scotland for Europe’s biggest nine-a-side Aussie Rules competition. In extremely windy conditions, 60 matches took place across four pitches to crown the 2022 Euro Cup men’s and women’s champions.
With over 400 players, coaches, volunteers, umpires and fans present, Edinburgh Leisure and Edinburgh Academical Sports Ground were packed to the rafters, an incredible spectacle in the wake of the pandemic.
The tournament itself saw England competing in both the men’s and women’s Grand Finals. The Dragonslayers found themselves up against the German Eagles in the men’s and in the women’s, the Vixens faced off against the always formidable Irish Banshees.
In the women’s, despite an arm-wrestle of a first half the Banshees proved far too strong for the Vixens, winning in a dominant display and completing a Euro Cup three-peat. The Irish side ran away with it in the second half, winning by 33 points and conceding just one behind.
Over in the men’s, the England Dragonslayers managed to hold off an inspired German side whose celebrations and team spirit were commendable. As with the Irish in the women’s, the win marked a three-peat of Euro Cup wins for the Dragonslayers, who took out the Grand Final comfortably, winning 53 – 8.
In Pool A, the England Vixens were the team to beat from the start, defeating the Polish Angels in their Euro Cup debut match by 38 points. The Vixens then went on to defeat the French Gauloises and Netherland Women’s respectively, conceding just three behinds in the process and finishing the group stage as the top seed across the competition.
The French Gauloises won their other two matches, starting the day off strong with a win over the Dutch before falling to the Vixens. However, they got back on song with a strong performance against the Polish Angels to secure second in the group. While for the Dutch, despite defeating Poland, losses to both the Vixens and Gauloises saw them finish third in the Pool.
As for the tournament debutants, despite failing to win a pool game the Polish Angels effort and endeavour was unquestionable. The inexperienced side held their own against some of the tournaments strongest opposition and should be proud of their efforts, which bode well for an even better performance at Euro Cup next year.
In the playoffs, the Vixens managed to hold off the Scottish Sirens in a tough game before falling to the Banshees by five goals in the Grand Final and finishing runners-up. The French and the Dutch managed to match-up against each other once again, finishing as the sixth and seventh seeds respectively. However, on this occasion it was the team from the Netherlands who were victorious, putting them into the fifth-place playoff where they fell to the German Eagles. Despite losing to the Dutch, the French were able to rally and defeat the European Crusaders to finish seventh overall.
Finally, although the Angels didn’t win a group game, they managed to earn a debut victory against the Swiss Heidis in the playoffs and finish in tenth place.
Pool B was all about the Banshees, who managed to score at an alarming rate thanks to an incredibly diligent and well-structured forward line. Their backline was just as formidable however, and the Irish managed to win all three pool games while holding two of their opponents, the European Crusaders and Swiss Heidis, scoreless.
This meant there was a fierce battle for second place among the Heidis, Crusaders and German Eagles. Despite valiant efforts from the newly formed European Crusaders, the Eagles proved to be the pick of the bunch – defeating both the Heidis and Crusaders and even managing to score a goal against the Banshees – the only team to do this all day. The Crusaders missed out on second place due to a narrow two-point loss against the Eagles but can go home with their heads held high after besting the Swiss by 20 points.
As for the Heidis, despite the results not going their way, the team fought hard all day long and never quit, displaying a winning attitude that the team should take great pride in.
In the playoffs, the Banshees went on to win it all, defeating the English and once again proving they are one of Europe’s most consistent and diligent Aussie Rules outfits. As for the Crusaders and the Swiss, the Crusaders finished in eighth place after going down to the French and the Swiss earned 11th position after a narrow loss to the Polish Angels.
The German Eagles rounded out the playoffs by finishing in fifth place after back-to-back wins against Crusaders and the Dutch.
Pool C was one of the most hard-fought groups across the entire competition, with a winner emerging in the dying minutes of the final game. The home-town Scottish Sirens kicked things off with a big win against the Swedish Ravens, but after the Welsh Wyverns held the Ravens to just three behinds, the Sirens were shaking in their boots ahead of their match-up with the Welsh.
With the Swedes dropping games to both the Scottish and the Welsh, the battle for first place all came down to the final match-up – the Sirens vs the Wyverns. The game was a see-sawing affair, with both sides leading at different points but ultimately, it was the Wyverns who managed to eek out the victory by just two points, putting them on top spot.
In the finals, the Ravens went on to finish ninth overall, ending the day with consecutive victories over the Swiss Heidis and Polish Angels, while the Scottish and the Welsh found themselves matched-up against one another in a third-place playoff after losing their preliminary finals against the English and Irish respectively. The battle for third was just as even as the two sides pool game – level at half-time. However, on this occasion the Sirens finished the strongest and managed to defeat the Wyverns by two goals and secure some silverware in front of the home fans.
In Pool A of the men’s the England Dragonslayers were imperious, winning all three games despite a brief scare against a determined Israeli outfit. The Israeli Beasts proved to be the surprise of the tournament, fighting the Dragonslayers all the way and defeating both the Scottish Clansmen and Netherland Flying Dutch to finish second in the pool. The Clansmen did manage a victory in front of the home fans, defeating the Dutch and earning themselves a match-up with the French Coqs in the finals. As for the Dutch, it simply wasn’t their day and the team struggled to convert its opportunities in the windy conditions.
In the finals, the English managed to hold on in their preliminary final against the Croatians, winning by only a goal, before defeating the Germans in convincing fashion in the Grand Final and displaying some of the best skills of the day.
The Israeli Beasts faltered against both the Welsh and the French in finals, which saw them finish in eighth place. However, their strong pool form shows they will be a team to contend with for years to come. In the playoffs, the Flying Dutch finally managed to earn themselves a win, defeating the Polish Devils and securing themselves an 11th place finish.
The feel-good story of this pool was the Scottish Clansmen, who despite only winning one pool game managed to turn it on in the finals and upset the French before falling to the Welsh in the fifth-place playoff and finishing sixth overall – a strong result considering their start to the day.
The men’s mega-pool was full of drama, with no side willing to give an inch, however, the Irish Warriors looked to be the pick of the bunch and this proved to be true through the pool games. The lads went undefeated and earned themselves the top seed heading into finals.
The French Coqs were also in good form throughout the pool games, only losing to the Warriors but defeating each of the Welsh Red Dragons, Swiss Wolves and Polish Devils. The Welsh were the best of the rest, splitting their games after wins against the Wolves and Devils.
At the other end of the table, it was the Polish side that managed to avoid going winless, defeating the Swiss Wolves by nine points in a hotly contested affair.
In the finals however, it was a different story. Both the Irish and French faltered in their respective matchups, causing some major disappointment. In a shock upset, the Warriors were bested by the German Eagles, meaning the Irish had to settle for a spot in the third-place playoff where they held their nerve and defeated the Croatians to prevent going home empty handed. As for the French, surprisingly, they fell to the Scottish Clansmen in the battle for a fifth-place playoff berth and found themselves up against the Israeli Beasts in a match-up for seventh place. Fortunately for the French they steadied and managed to tame the Beasts and finish seventh overall.
It was the Red Dragons who put on the best finals display from this pool, finishing the day with consecutive victories, first against Israel and then against the Scottish Clansmen, ultimately finishing a very respectable fifth place.
Both the Polish Devils and the Swiss Wolves were unable to win any of their finals and finished in 12th and 13th respectively.
Pool C was the most difficult to pick heading into the days play and it didn’t disappoint. It was the Croatian Knights who were the pick of the lot, winning all three games including an eight-point victory against the German Eagles in what was likely the game of the day. The Eagles managed to win both of their other math-up against the Swedish Elks and Austrian Avalanche convincingly, meaning they finished the pool match-ups seeded in the top four despite the loss to the Croatians.
The Avalanche and Elks were both desperate to avoid going winless through the group stage and this was evident by the ferocity of their play. In their match-up against one another, just four points separated the two sides with the Austrians emerging the eventual winners.
The finals saw the Croatians almost pull off a five-goal comeback against the English, falling short by only six points before then losing in the third-place playoff against the Irish Warriors to finish fourth.
The German Eagles however, pulled off the upset of the tournament in their preliminary final by defeating the highly touted Irish Warriors by three goals. They followed it up with a valiant effort in the Grand Final but were ultimately outclassed by the English. Despite finishing runners-up, the Germans boisterous celebrations and team spirit stole the show.
After both winning their initial playoff games, the Elks and Avalanche found themselves matched-up again in the 9th place final and as was the tale of the day, no team was able to beat another twice. The Swedes managed to turn their pool form around and defeat the Austrians in yet another nail-biting affair. At days end, the Elks finished ninth while the Avalanche settled for tenth.
- European Crusaders
Golden Whistle – Walter Gibilaro
Women’s Team of the Tournament
England Vixens – Rania Turner-Ramadan
European Crusaders – Nina Lovengreen
French Gauloises – Myriam Allali
German Eagles – Theresa Kresse
Irish Banshees – Maria Quirke
Netherland Flying Dutch – Merel Van Ooijen
Polish Angels – Emilia Pruszkowski/Agnieska Bezraczko
Scottish Sirens – Orfhlaith McCaughey
Swedish Ravens – Stephanie Judge
Swiss Heidis – Claira Lea
Welsh Wyverns – Mary Pickard
Player of the Tournament – Swedish Ravens – Stephanie Judge
Men’s Team of the Tournament
Austrian Avalanche – Oliver Krajacic
Croatian Knights – Tomislav Cvetko
England Dragonslayers – Andrew Bernard Cochran
French Coqs – Anthony Boubet
German Eagles – Phillip Evermann
Irish Warriors – Conor Dunne
Israeli Beasts – Shir Maran
Netherland Flying Dutch – Yasin Alkan
Polish Devils – Piotr Pilichiewicz
Scottish Clansmen – Angus Mackintosh
Swedish Elks – Buster Sund
Swiss Wolves – Benoit Vittori
Welsh Red Dragons – Oliver Rees
Player of the Tournament – Polish Devils – Piotr Pilichiewicz
A huge thankyou to everyone who helped out with the tournament’s preparation and ensured the day ran smoothly. From our pitch managers and other volunteers to the players and coaches, your support made for a memorable return to Euro Cup action after a long hiatus and we couldn’t have done it without you.
A special shoutout to our umpires for volunteering their time to cover 60 games and (in some cases) run over 20 miles. Additionally, a big thankyou to AFL Scotland for all their hard work setting up the tournament in partnership with Edinburgh Leisure and Edinburgh Academical, ensuring we had somewhere to play and managing the event.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge Cllr Hal Osler of the Liberal Democratic’s Inverleith Ward for her support and for handing out the silverware on the day.
Well done to all for playing in such good spirits and representing their nations with pride – we look forward to seeing you all again in 2023.
- Joseph Arthur, AFL Europe