With spring just around the corner, it’s an exciting time of the year for AFL clubs across Europe as teams step up their preparation for their upcoming seasons.
One form of preparation is taking part in a pre-season tournament, where teams travel for a big day of football, battling it out to win a pre-season cup. Teams also get the chance to test out tactics, put their skills into a real match situation and get to know teammates better.
Haggis Cup 2nd March, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Over in Scotland, the Haggis Cup will be hosted in Edinburgh after a couple of years in Glasgow.
Being played on the 2ndof March, AFL Scotland President Kristy Gray said, “We’ve had a great couple of years over in Glasgow although it’s good to keep things fresh… to offer something different for travelling teams.”
The time of year the tournament is taking place has also changed to March with a hope that it will be a dry day in Edinburgh, but Scottish weather can be unpredictable at the best of times.
This year will see the biggest women’s tournament at the Haggis Cup to date, with six teams expected to compete from SARFLW and AFL London. The men’s tournament will also see similar numbers with five to six teams playing.
London teams the Wimbledon Hawks and Wandsworth Demons will provide tough competition this year along with the SARFLW sides in the Glasgow Sharks, West Lothian Eagles, Edinburgh Bloods and Greater Glasgow Giants.
Over in the men’s draw, the Edinburgh Bloods return as reigning premiers and will be keen to retain their title but will face keen opposition, with the Manchester Mosquitoes expected to be a contender.
Gallia Cup 9th March, Paris, France.
Another tournament set to take place soon is the Gallia Cup, an all-female Australian Rules tournament held in Paris.
The 2019 edition will see four teams compete in a cup that is designed to put the spotlight on women’s football in France. Teams from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the Paris Cockerelles will all compete on Saturday 9thof March.
Fittingly, the tournament takes place the day after International Women’s Day. Organiser Fanny Maillet said one of the main goals of the tournament was, “To give the girls some playing time as they don’t have as many games as the men and also a chance to prepare for the Champions League in April.”
By connecting the Cup to International Women’s Day, Fanny says it’s a great opportunity to show that there is a lot of girls playing footy in Europe and hopefully clubs will get coverage as a result of sending some of their players to Paris.
“The reception has been great. We have been contacted by lots of women who wanted to participate,” said Fanny.
Leprechaun Cup 23rd March, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
A short trip away in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Leprechaun Cup will take place on the 23rdof March.
Numbers are still being finalised, but it’s promising to be another big tournament after last year saw 14 clubs travel from Ireland, England, Scotland and Paris, which included seven women’s teams, growing from just two teams in previous years.
So far, there are clubs from AFL London, Ireland and a number of university squads that are going to be playing as they all look to make the most of this opportunity to play in early 2019.
Lots of the teams competing have put in big efforts in their off-season, which isn’t always easy with adverse weather conditions at times, but organiser Conor Mallon said, “everyone definitely seems to be looking forward to some competitive footy.”
“We always look forward to the tournament and welcoming clubs to the city for a great day of footy. The success of last year was very encouraging to see and we are hoping for an even bigger day in 2019,” said Conor. If last year’s tournament is anything to go by, then Belfast is in for a fantastic day of AFL.
These tournaments may be down as pre-season tournaments but expect some exciting and competitive football as teams will get the chance to blood new players while enjoying a social day of football across Europe.
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