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Sunday, April 21 2019 @ 11:37 pm ACST

Belgians take out EU Cup

EuropeIn the first 9-a-side EU Cup held in London last weekend October 9th, Belgium (represented by the Brussels Saints) defeated Sweden 78-37. Ten sides competed in the cup, representing nations from around Europe. The tournament finished with Belgium's strong mainly Aussie expat lineup only losing one match (against Israel) to qualify from their division. In the opposite pool Sweden took a clean sweep of preliminary matches.

In an unusual twist, the side representing Israel chose to relinquish their place in the third place playoff match, as their squad of London-based Australians felt it would be sporting to offer the place instead to the Germans who had made the effort to travel.

Promising sign were strongly improved performances by the French and Catalonian teams, who both came into the tournament with limited experience and were noted to be markedly improved by the end of the day's proceedings.

Final rankings of sides based on pool and qualifier matches stood as follows:-

1. Belgium
2. Sweden
3. Netherlands
4. Germany
5. Israel & England
6. Scotland
7. Catalonia
8. France & Austria

The tournament, originally announced by the organisation calling itself the IAFC (not universally accepted as the original body) in early 2005, had been slated for Paris, but was moved to London for organisatorial reasons. Somewhere in the intervening period, the disputed IAFC disappeared and a new website with the title 'Aussie Rules International' appeared in its place. Since then the new body has increasingly distanced itself from the IAFC name, including the absence of the acronym from the official tournament report.

Some political friction has been growing within Europe, the ARFLI, BARFL, AFLG and DAFL all distancing themselves from the Cup at the official level.

In what could potentially be a massive bonus for the game in Europe, a group of 13 individuals from nations have signed on as members of a new group calling itself 'Aussie Rules Europe'. Aussie Rules Europe has made the official statement to be a development body, but not to have any claim of being a governing body. This development has however been met with caution by some members of the European footy community and as is always the case, only time will tell which direction this development takes.

Politics are the bane of clubs and leagues everywhere - in Australia as much as elsewhere - and many people have already left the international footy scene due to an unwillingness to get drawn into partisan politics. Let's hope the fallout is for the good rather than detriment of the game.
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