From hosting the Axios Euro Cup for the first time to playing in their first Axios Euro Cup final, France enjoyed much success in the AFL Europe competition in 2013.
The form team of last year is now looking to continue their successful run in Melbourne at the 2014 International Cup.
President of the CNFA (National Committee of Australian Football) in France and Head coach of Les Coqs, Thomas Urban, believes that his team has the potential to cause some upsets, but they still have a way to go before they can take on the big guns.
“We played Papua New Guinea three years ago and they smashed us. We are not ready for them yet.”
Since finishing 14th in the 2011 International Cup, Urban and the CNFA have grown the game exponentially in France, to the point where they are considered one of the stronger European teams.
Preparation for the International Cup began two years ago when Urban chose many of the players he hoped would play in the French team however some things have not gone to plan.
“Because of the money problem, some of our more experienced guys will stay in France,” said Urban. “It does however allow an opportunity for some of the young guys who could be brilliant in the next couple of years.”
Included in the team who will be attending are stars of the 2013 Euro Cup, speedy midfielder Joevin L’Hotellier and Les Coqs imposing captain, Grégoire Patacq.
“We also have two big ruckmen who I’m sure everyone will be paying attention to,” said Urban. “Thomas Depondt, who learned his craft playing for the Lock Roos in South Australia and Clément Coste who was one of the best AFL Quebec players last year.”
The French connection runs deep with some of the players having also played or been involved in the Canadian team.
“Playing Canada would be great,” said Urban. “Our inside knowledge could give us the competitive edge.”
Another advantage that the French will enjoy is the advice of Richmond Tiger’s player, Daniel Jackson, who will be sharing his knowledge of the game with the team once they arrive in Melbourne.
Having also just crowned a champion in their local season (Toulouse Hawks), the French will be prepared for any challenge that comes their way this International Cup.
“We will carry our momentum through from the season and hopefully come away with a few wins.”
Thomas Urban, President of the CNFA and Head coach of Les Coqs