BARFL's Bulldogs to take on ARUK's Dragonslayers
Wednesday, August 29 2007 @ 03:54 pm ACST
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
This year's European autumn will see the biggest season of test matches across northern Europe for a few years, with a few big clashes which will give a few indications of where teams stand leading up to neat year's IC. Heading the card are matches between the big three of European footy - the Irish Warriors hosting the Great Britain Bulldogs in Dublin, then travelling to the Danish city Århus to take on the Denmark Vikings.
Add to this the EU Cup, this year's Sweden-Denmark match and matches between the Scottish Puffins, the England (ARUK) Dragonslayers and newcomers the Welsh Red Dragons and possibly the biggest story of the whole schedule - an 18-a-side match on October 13th between the BARFL's Bulldogs and the ARUK's Dragonslayers. The stage is set for an encounter where both sides have a lot of respect on the line.
UPDATE - Our sources in Scotland tell us that while they have been talking to the guys in Wales about a game, this is not yet confirmed. Reports from ARUK that the Dragonslayers are to play Scotland it seems are also premature. According to the SARFL's Eddie McAvinchey: "Both interesting games for us to have (in theory) but in practice we may not be able to organise any of them, as the SARFL season isn't finished for a few weeks and then it may be getting too late to arrange anything."
Great Britain Bulldogs coach Charlie Kielty is preparing the side for next year's International Cup - coming out of the year which saw the biggest changes in UK Footy to date. Says Kielty, "When I took over as Bulldogs coach last year I made it clear that my focus was on building the strongest British team that I could, and distancing the team from politics. In order for us to have a successful campaign at the International Cup 2008 we must put football first.
"(Aussie Rules UK's) Brian Clarke was keen to have the Dragonslayers play the Bulldogs before the EU Cup to give them a good hit out and gain some experience. This wasn't possible as I already had our agenda in place and didn't have a free weekend. However, when Denmark pulled out of our match I spoke to Brian about scheduling the match for that day. This will give the Bulldogs another practice match to gauge where we are at, and also give me the chance to look at any promising talent from ARUK.
"If the Dragonslayers were to win with players that are genuinely eligible for GB selection then I would seriously have to consider the team we have chosen and some Dragonslayers would no doubt put themselves forward for team consideration by their on field performances.
"Realistically, apart from a couple of players, the GB squad is made up of players that have several seasons under their belt and have played regular 18-a-side football, whereas the Dragonslayers are mostly first-year players who have been playing 9-a-side football. With this in mind, my focus will be on how each of the GB players perform, follow instructions, and play their role in the team, rather than just being happy with a win.
"Two Sussex/Brighton Swans players who play in the ARUK competition have been chosen in the Bulldogs squad and a couple of Swindon players were looked at. The key to being selected was to obviously come to the attention of myself and the other two selectors which was probably easier for BARFL players but not impossible for ARUK players. This year I used the Anzac Cup, Brit Cup and BARFL fixtured games to watch as many players as possible. Some Swindon players had a run with the GB team at the Anzac Cup, and ARUK put a Wales team into the Brit Cup, while the Swans included some of their ARUK players to give them exposure when they knew I was going to be watching. Some of the BARFL coaches also gave me good honest feed back on the performane of their hopefuls each week which was a great help to the selectors. Although limited, there were chances for ARUK players to push themselves forward (or for their coaches to do so) if they had the desire.
"My view is that anyone that fits the eligibility criteria to be a GB player will be given consideration for places. That being said, players need to be playing as many 18-a-side games as possible in 2008 to give them the experience to play in Melbourne where it will be 18-a-side. As I have said before, my focus is doing well at the International Cup 2008 and the only way to do that is to land in Melbourne with the strongest team possible not matter which league the players are from.
"As the senior Dragonslayers is a new team put together for the EU Cup, I have not yet seen them in action. However they have entered a team in the Manchester Cup (12-a-side), and I have also entered the Great Britain side, so if the draw goes right we may see a preliminary hit out between the 2 sides.
"From a Great Britain perspective I think that co operation between the 2 parties can only be good for football. From a strictly personal point of view I see ARUK being a great way to introduce EU-players to the game in areas that dont have the numbers to support an 18-a-side team. It teaches them the rules and gets them addicted to the game, then if they want to go further they could opt for playing with an established 18-a-side team (BARFL) and work their way up to the required level. As I said, this is my personal take on the situation (in an ideal world) and might not be possible for some players."
Remaining European test schedule for Autumn 2007
Hamburg, September 15
British Bulldogs vs Ireland
Dublin, September 29
Sweden vs Denmark
Malmö (Sweden), September 29
Denmark vs Ireland
Århus (Denmark), October 6
Austria - Czech Republic - Croatia (round 3 of 2007 tri-series)
Zagreb (Croatia) October 6
British Bulldogs vs England Dragonslayers
Clapham Common (London), October 13