Updates on French Footy and French Cup now announced

By Alban Schieber

The 2013/2014 season is now officially over in France. Here is a quick overview of the season:

It all started back in September when the Bordeaux Bombers organised with AFL Europe and the CNFA the 2013 Axios Euro Cup. During this tournament the French Coqs made history by reaching the Grand Final and beating Ireland for the first time (34-33). Unfortunately the players were a little short during the final against England Dragonslayers with the end result being 92-15.

The Axios Euro Cup was also a big event for French Women’s footy with the first ever French national team competing for the European Crown against girls coming from all over Europe in the Crusaders team.

Once AFL Europe and all the other teams had left Bordeaux and its wineries, the CNFA went back to work and the clubs as well. When the championship started, the Aix Marseille Dockers were unable to join anymore and were replaced by the ALFA Lions (Lyon).

Here is a summary of the whole championship won by the Toulouse Hawks (see story about the CNFA Grand Final here).


(Click on picture to enlarge)

In February the Hawks organised another competition, the annual South Cup. Running on the same format as most European Cups, all the teams competed in a seeding round in the morning before playing the finals in the afternoon. This year 6 teams competed including the Toulouse Hawks 1 & 2, Bordeaux Bombers, Montpellier Firesharks, ALFA Lions and the returning Perpignan Tigers. The Bordeaux Bombers won the 2014 South Cup defeating the Montpellier Firesharks in the Grand Final.

In April, France also had the chance to host the annual Topdeck ANZAC Cup held in Villers-Bretonneux where AFL Europe were involved. This year the Aussies came back with the strongest team so far and defeated the French Coqs. We can for sure say that all the boys who played had an unforgettable experience.

Unfortunately, this season didn’t see any French Cup as the CNFA decided that the French Cup will be played in september. “We want the French Cup to become the big start of all our coming seasons. It will be a good opportunity to meet the new clubs and new players and give everyone a chance to show that they can compete in the Championship. This will also allow the national coach to see all the players before every Axios Euro Cup and help him to make his final decision on the team!” said Thomas Urban, CNFA President.

CNFA is also proud to announce that the 2014 French Cup will be held in Bordeaux on September 21st.

1. The possible inclusion of  the Nancy Bobcats and the Pau Bears (new clubs in the process of formation)

2. The Perpignan Tigers will return before joining the 2014/2015 season

3. The ALFA Lions, Paris Cockerels, Strasbourg Kangaroos, Montpellier Firesharks, Toulouse Hawks, Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes and Bordeaux Bombers will once again be there to ensure one of the biggest French Cups.

French clubs

Last but not least, CNFA worked with a communication agency called Bleue Com Une Orange which was in charge of developing our sponsors programs and our social media. This also helped us to reorganise new processes and give a better picture of our sport in France.

Now we are focusing on the IC14 where we hope to offer a good image of our footy and show the world our improvement.

#coqsweek #IC14 #gofooty

Australia Spirit take home the Topdeck ANZAC Cup

ANZAC day holds a special place in the heart of every Australian – that we already know. What the 2014 Topdeck ANZAC Cup taught all of the players lucky enough to pull on the Australian Spirit jumper against the French national team – spending several days in majestical Villers-Bretonneux in the process – is that its locals hold it just as dear.

The locals had hosted the Australian players, family and friends in their homes for three nights to further strengthen the ties between the two countries. Reflecting on the experience, many of the players considered it one of the most memorable experiences of their young lives. Tom Rischbieth, a player who has experienced AFL at the highest level, described it as “truly one of the best experiences of my life“. Matt Hook, the elder statesman of the team and a veteran of two ANZAC Cup showdowns, made his feelings on the experience clear: “I feel incredibly privileged to have taken part in such a special few days,” he said.



Images: Jacob McFadden & David Higgs

The local ABA (the association responsible for the on-ground organisation) again put in a tremendous amount of work, and its volunteers were recognised by both national teams via a town parade that took all involved in the occasion past the local school and through many of the streets to thank the town for the event. Now in its sixth year, the event is reliant on this group and the local council to ensure its longevity for generations to come.

The game got underway following the anthems of both teams and a minute’s silence. To say that the Australians were excited and focused is an understatement; it was easy to see in the players’ eyes that they were ready to represent Australia with all they had. The French had come with a slightly weakened team due to a couple of injuries and travel commitments, but once each player pulled on the national jumper they were more than ready.


The first quarter set the tone for the whole match and, with the ball coming into Australia’s forward line so efficiently, bustling Jack Lawson banged through goal after goal, kicking seven in the opening term alone. He proved just as difficult to stop in the second quarter, adding another four majors before a shuffle to defence cooled him off. France lost captain and onballer Alban Schieber with a knee injury in the first two minutes of play, not helping their cause. With a solid Australian backline and Sam Higgs (one of the three Higgs brothers) and Rischbieth everywhere in the middle, the French found it very difficult to get the ball forward with any consistency.

A head clash between Australians Hook and Ben Rogers in the third quarter highlighted the physicality of the match and left blood dripping from both. As it turns out, Hook’s companion and secret weapon was also a plastic surgeon, and both were stitched up post-game. France slammed on two goals in their best period of the match and started to grow in confidence with some great passages of play. Their ruckman Thomas Depondt battled hard all day long.

The last quarter saw Australia pile on more goals courtesy of some slick ball movement. Rangy ruckman-turned-forward Phil Clegget started to hold his marks and did not look like missing from any distance, while the Higgs brothers shared the ball between them.


While the Australians proved too strong on the day, the match was played in high spirits, with the crowd getting a great exhibition of high-class football skills.

“The national team will learn a lot from today and can take those lessons into the remainder of our preparations for IC14 in Australia this August,” France coach,Thomas Urban said.

Of his side Ben MacCormack, CEO of AFL Europe said: “The team is picked on their individual connection to the area and the ANZAC spirit. The level can be varied throughout the team. However, this year, it was an exceptional group.

“More pleasing was the respect, understanding and enthusiasm the whole group showed towards the event, commemoration and the people of Villers Bretonneux.”


“This is a very special event on the AFL Europe calendar and should be an event that every Australian attends at some stage in their life,” MacCormack concluded.


Whilst it is the spirit of the event that is most important the Australian’s where thrilled to even the series at 3-3 with this years victory.


Australia 10.5 (65)     22.7 (139)     30.11 (191)     39.14 (248)

France        0.0 (0)         0.2 (2)              2.3 (15)            2.7 (19)


Australia: Lawson 11, S. Higgs 7, Clegget 5, MacCormack 3, Price 3, P. Higgs 3, McGrath 2, Rischbieth 2, D. Higgs, Hook, Howard

France: Debet, Cassavetti

Australian Embassy – France, Best on ground:

Australia: Sam Higgs

France: Thomas Depondt

See you next year in VB for the 7th edition

Topdeck ANZAC Cup updates for this weekend

The Topdeck ANZAC Cup game will take place in Villers-Bretonneux in France this Saturday the 26th of April at 3:30pm.

The Australian team will take on the French team led by Thomas Urban, President of the CNFA and coach of the French national team:

“The 2014 Topdeck ANZAC Cup is a very important step for the French National team this year. We need to confirm our last great performance from the 2013 Axios Euro Cup in Bordeaux [France reached the Grand Final in the competition] and prepare the team for the International Cup. For 70% of the players this game will be their first international game representing the French team.

Even more importantly, this year marks the celebration of the World War 1 centenary and we would like to highlight the French-Australian friendship through this event.”

Most of the French clubs will be represented in the French team:

Paris Cockerels: Stephen CASSAVETTI

Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes: Thomas COCHET

Alfa Lions: Thomas DEPONDT

Strasbourg Kangourous: Joévin L’HOTELLIER

Bordeaux Bombers: Yoann ALLIOT-MARTY, Alban SCHIEBER (Captain), Cyril DEBET

Toulouse Hawks: Yvan BARBARIA, Adrien DAVID, Julien GIL, Simon MONDIN, William TAPIA, Florian VIDAL

The Australian players will come from all around Europe and Australia to play this important game and represent their country.


The umpires for the game will be Niels SCHONNEMANN and George WOOD.

After having run the London Marathon on the 13th of April, the AFL Europe CEO Ben MacCormack is ready to coach the Australian’s and is looking to redeem the 40 point loss from 2013. “This is a real highlight of the AFL Europe calendar that has been developed by the CNFA, the local towns ABA members and some proud Aussie’s over the years. It is a real privilege for AFL Europe to be involved and we will have our Chairman Chris Dow and Commission Member Michelle Morgan with their families present for the event. The town makes such an effort to host proceedings throughout the week and we would like to give special thanks to Xavier and his team of volunteers for all the work put in to make the event happen”. MacCormack said.

“Having Topdeck (naming rights) and the Australian Embassy in France (best player medals) support the event also shows that companies want to connect with this important commemoration for the ANZAC’s that fought on the fields that we now play games of footy on. It’s a special weekend and I hope a big crowd can get along to see an exciting contest.” MacCormack concluded.

Although rivalry will be high the most important feature of the day will be to honor and celebrate those who gave their lives to form an integral part of our shared history.

Event updates will be available on AFL Europe social media.


Anzac Cup 2014

2014 Topdeck ANZAC Cup Fast Approaching

AFL Europe now turns its attention to the 6th edition of the Topdeck ANZAC Cup to be held at the historic location of Villers Bretonneux in France on the 26th of April. In World War 1 this location was the site of the worlds first battle between tank forces and cost the Australian army 1200 lives. To pay tribute to the role the ANZACs played the Australian team will play the French team in what promises to be a memorable match for both players and spectators. Those chosen to represent Australia were not chosen solely on their football ability but also their personal connection and interest in the history that surrounds the ANZACs.

The weekend will commence on Friday with the Dawn Service to be held from 3am- 6am at the Australian War Memorial of Villers Bretonneux. On Saturday the teams will attend the commemoration at the Australian War Memorial followed by the team march which will leave from Place Robinvalle.

The game will kick off at 3:30pm at Stade Timmerman in Villers Bretonneux on Saturday the 26th.

Anzac Cup

Topdeck ANZAC Cup Australian Spirit squad announced along with naming rights sponsor

In a huge coup for AFL Europe and the CNFA, Topdeck have committed to the naming rights sponsorship for 2014 Topdeck ANZAC Cup in Villers Bretonneux – France. Topdeck have long been the tour company of choice for ex-pat Australian’s travelling around Europe and are just as popular in Australia for travelling Europeans looking to discover more of Australia.

“It seems a natural fit for a company with such strong connections between Europe and Australia to get involved in a historic event like the ANZAC Cup” Kerry Tate, Sales Manager from Topdeck said.

“We are very excited to further explore the synergies between our companies and how we can assist in the growth of events like the Topdeck ANZAC Cup and connect with both Australian and European travellers when they are booking tours in both regions” Tate continued.

Whilst the deal is for this years event only at the moment there are plans in the works to further extend the partnership.

“AFL Europe is very keen to impress on Topdeck the value of being associated with the strongest sporting brand in Australia and a proud, passionate and growing membership across Europe” AFL Europe CEO, Ben MacCormack said.

“Partnerships like these are what will progress our sport in Europe not too mention the importance of securing the future of this particular event to both the Australian’s and French that have been involved in the past.” MacCormack continued.

Topdeck have tours running through the Western Front for this years ANZAC Day commemorations which include a visit to the Villers Bretonneux memorial. They have many other amazing trips ready for you to book in 2014. Check them all out at  


The team to take on the French in this years Topdeck ANZAC Cup and try and avenge the 40 point loss from 2013 has now been announced. We look forward to getting together with you all in Villers Bretonneux for what is sure to be a memorable experience.

Australian Spirit

Paddy Higgs

David Higgs

Sam Higgs

Brendan Stead

Dale Housden

Matt Hook

Ryan Price

Patrick McGrath

Joe Durling

Todd Davey

Ben Rogers

Phil Clegget

Ben MacCormack

Jack Lawson

Tom Rischbieth


Public are invited to attend the Topdeck ANZAC Cup which will take place at Stade Timmerman from 3pm in the centre of historic Villers Bretonneux. More details coming soon.