After a one-year absence from the Fitzpatrick Cup, the hosts for this year, Oxford University, are determined to make sure that once the Cup arrives in the historic English city, they won’t be leaving.
With their last appearance in the tournament back in 2017, Oxford will be looking to make the most of their home ground advantage and with two sides in the men’s draw as well as a team in the women’s they will give themselves every chance.
Back in 2017, the two men’s sides’ could only record one win between them from a total of six games. The women, unfortunately, couldn’t record a win either, but they are a different team this time around. “We aren’t here for the show – we want to go the whole hog!” said Romy Minko, the president of the Oxford University Australian Rules Football Club.
The club missed playing in last years edition of the cup, and are keen to make themselves noticed this year. “Absence certainly has made this heart grow fonder. We really missed playing last year, and it’s good to play more games,” said Romy.
With hosting the competition comes the opportunity for numbers to grow, as it’s easier for players, coaches and staff to work around other commitments. This has certainly been the case for Oxford, as they have plenty of numbers to pick from for their squads and they will be able to show how strong they are.
Tim Lefroy will be leading the way for the three Oxford teams as the coach, while Natasha Jacobs is captain for the Women’s team and Jasper Fried the captain for the Men’s.
“All our teams are in red hot form – we’ve bought the newer players up to speed and have been working hard on skills and fitness,” Romy said, showing that the Oxford team is developing well heading into the tournament.
The form of any team will be key, as that can create momentum, which is important in carrying teams through a busy schedule of football in the Fitzpatrick Cup.
Focus on speed in training appears to be paying off, as Oxford’s “ball movement is looking really good,” according to their President, particularly when transitioning with the ball “out of defence”.
The Oxford squad are confident of making sure the Cup stays in the city at the conclusion of the tournament, but most teams are confident of taking out the titles, so there will be plenty of quality competition.
They may not have played in last years competition but that will have developed their desire and competitiveness to show what they are capable of. Home ground advantage helps, but Romy believes they are capable regardless, “We think we’re excellent everywhere. In the words of Ross Lyon, Fremantle Senior Coach (2013): “anywhere, anytime”.
Oxford is certainly determined and has the right attitude heading into the tournament. “We want to go the whole hog!” is certainly a fitting quote for the hosts to live by on this upcoming Saturday.
Angus Boyle – AFL Europe