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.
Round 1: vs PNG
Round 2: vs Irish Banshees
Round 3: vs USA
Semi-Finals: vs TBC
Grand Finals: vs TBC
Player to Watch
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.