2022 will see a grand return of the Fitzpatrick Cup after a year on the sidelines and a fresh crop of formidable European University AFL teams is ready to clash in Cardiff on February 5. Returning to the tournament yet again, is the University of Birmingham, and club member James Scott-Stacey offered a preview of both the men’s and women’s squads ahead of the tournament.
What has the last year looked like for Birmingham?
Last year was difficult due to Covid, putting a lot of restrictions on our activities. However, as of September 2021, we have our most members with 80 players (and growing). We are almost completely made up of University of Birmingham students, meaning we often start from scratch each year in terms of numbers, but we’ve well and truly hit our stride. It’s getting better and better for our team. We can’t wait for the Fitzpatrick cup and all the opportunities 2022 holds!
What’s the aim of the team for your competition?
The aim for our team is to enjoy the day out at the Fitzpatrick cup, kindly put on by AFL Europe. Of course, we would love to win and hope to compete, but enjoyment for everyone across our squads is key!
The tournament is in Wales this year, much closer to home, will that help?
Come the tournament, we will be in a fairly dense period fixture-wise, with plenty of games in a short period of time. We’re playing most weekends and we don’t want to exert our players too much, so the closer to home the better!
Any young stars to keep our eye on?
We’ve got some very talented players this year! Players to look out for include Ben Kinnear, Lawrence Topley, Tom Batchelor, Liv Smyth, Charlotte Van Der Zanden and Alice Shearstone. Across our men’s and women’s sides, those names will sure to be among the best players on ground in a few, if not all, of our matches.
What’s the key strength of the team?
The key strengths of our teams are the closeness and tight-knit atmosphere within each of them and the club itself. We’re a group with a lot of chemistry, making game play between us very smooth – you can’t teach a connection like ours.
Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?
The coaches in charge are Olivia Smyth and Garold Pitman, both taking the reigns for the first time and we can’t wait to see how they approach the tournament!
The 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup will take place on Saturday February 5 at St Peter’s Rugby Club – The Harlequins Playing Fields, Minister Road, Cardiff, CF23 5AS.