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Tuesday, November 21 2017 @ 08:47 pm ACDT

IC17 Preview - French Coqs

International Cup 2017

The French Coqs will take the field in Division 1 of the IC17 this month, their third International Cup campaign in succession. Whilst they have a tough draw in the pool rounds, the French will be very keen to make an impression and make a mark as an up-and-coming footy nation.

The Country and Australian rules football

Some footy was played by Australian soldiers in France during WW1, an event that nowadays is celebrated each year with the French national side taking on the Aussie Spirit selection in Villers-Bretonneux each Anzec Day.

The modern era of Footy in France saw some matches played in the 1990s in Paris and Normandy, but nothing concrete formed until the Strasbourg Kangourous in 2005. They competed in the German national league for one season, but the formation of teams in Paris and the south of France saw a French national scene grow to the point where the first national championship was played in 2008. Since then, footy in France has steadily grown with clubs across the country, including both men's and women's sides. The current national men's comp champions are the ALFA Lions, from the central city of Lyon.

On the international scene, France has been present to most of the major European competitions since the 2005 Euro Cup in London and have enjoyed some success. The team first travelled to the Australia for the IC11 where they had an impressive run in Division 2, culminating with a second place. They have been consistent improvers, last year taking 5th position in the Euro Cup.

The Squad and its Road to IC17

Coach Andrew Unsworth grew up in Perth in a keen footy family, with his grandfather having played for WAFL side South Fremantle. His playing experience ranged from Dalkeith Nedlands in Perth, then later with Sydney University from 05-09.

Unsworth's coaching experience started in Shanghai, managing one of the three teams there, before he moved to France. As he says, "When I arrived in Paris, they were looking for someone to take the lead at training so I helped out. I then became coach of the second Paris team, the Cockatoos and was asked to take the reigns of the French team. I still play for the Cockatoos but I'm more passionate about helping the game grow in France."

"Our ambition is simple, to improve. Our local league has really grown and we want to demonstrate that on the world stage. The team is quite different to the last IC with only a handful of players that have been to Australia before. Having said that, all the players know each other well so I'm looking forward to see us working together and having a strong cohesion."

"We have selected the best players from around France who have performed well for their respective clubs in France, during the Euro Cup or in the ANZAC Cup in Villers Bretonneux. All clubs from around France are represented, which is also a great sign that all clubs are developing local talent."

The squad has 27 players travelling from France, with 1 Australian-based player in Gregoire Patacq who will appear in his third International Cup.

Players to watch

There are several players to keep an eye on. Two experienced players in defence, captain Julien Gil (captain) and Sylvain Maylie, were both at IC14 and are strong leaders on and off the field. They are joined by a new wave of players, who have impressed in the French league in just their second season of footy, such as Ludo Barrat (forward), Benoit Treuillet (midfield) and Pierre Lechales (defender). Lastly, an x-factor up forward will be Jeremy Sardin who played in Adelaide for a few months last year, an experience which will be invaluable.

Prognostication

The French face a challenging draw - Fiji, Ireland, Nauru and the USA in their group stages. Fiji would look to be the most winnable of those match-ups, with the Irish, Nauruans and US among the strongest sides in the competition. However, they will be eager to impress and may pull off a few upsets.

The Squad

Julien Gil – Toulouse Hawks

Sylain Maylie – Blagnac Aviators

Mathieu Ostorero – ALFA Lions

Fabien Floch – Toulouse Hawks

Francois Daniel – Paris Cockatoos

Pierre Leschasles – ALFA Lions

Cyrille Gandolfo – Toulouse Hawks

Jacob Raiwalui – Paris Cockatoos

Benoit Treuillet – Bordeaux Bombers

Jeremy Sardin – Perpignan Tigers

Ludo Barrat – Toulouse Hawks

Franck Nussbaumer – Paris Cockerels

Vincent Monnier – Bordeaux Bombers

Anthony Girard – Blagnac Aviators

Marco Pinto – Bordeaux Bombers

Raphael Ubeda – Bordeaux Bombers

Pierre Boscart – Paris Cockerels

Thomas Depondt – ALFA Lions

Gregoire Patacq – South Australia

Clement Bouchet – Paris Cockatoos

Julien Dagois – Paris Cockatoos

Maxime Favero – Cergy Coyotes

Simon Mondin – Toulouse Hawks

Thomas Crepin – Cergy Coyotes

Nicolas Boche – ALFA Lions

Anthony Bernard – Perpignan Tigers

Sam Rat – Bordeaux Bombers

Stephane Wezel – Toulouse Hawks

Pierre Napoleon – ALFA Lions

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