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Tuesday, November 25 2014 @ 02:31 AM ACDT

Roller Coaster Ride for Danes on the International Front

Europe

It's been an up and down month for resurgent Denmark on the international front recently. A thumping win for the senior team against Germany has been followed by a major surprise in their junior loss to England's Dragonslayers last weekend.

In August a new series was inaugurated in Bielefeld, Germany. The controlling bodies of Denmark, Sweden and Germany have agreed to play a three-way round robin of full international matches with no expatriate Australians playing at all. The three-way concept gives each nation two matches - one at home and one away, and by keeping the venues between southern Sweden and northern Germany, it is hoped that transport costs can be kept to a minimum as well.

On August 19, Denmark traveled to Bielefeld, Germany to open the series. The Danes were probably quietly expecting to win, although their national side has undergone a major metamorphasis in the last 12 months. Stuart Wynn, coach since 2000, had stepped down with Jim Campion taking the reins, and the bulk of the regular players who had carried the side since then were making way for many of the younger players Campion had coached as kids at Farum. It was a new and young team, it was the first away game for Denmark since the 2002 International Cup, and they had never met Germany, who were taking the field for their first international ever. So it was a journey into the unknown.


The Danish Vikings who played Germany in Bielefeld.

But this unknown journey didn't last long. On a ground larger than any used in DAFL, the Danes kicked into a stiff breeze in the first quarter and led 7.6 (48) to 0.0 (0) at quarter time and the game was as good as over. They needn't have worried as the benefit of 13 more years not to mention the junior development exposed an enormous gulf between the two teams. Spearhead Mikkel Norlander equaled Erik Krolmark's record of nine goals for a full international as the Vikings coasted to a 197 point win. Full scores can be found on The Footy Record here.

Fast forward a month and it was the kids' turn to take centre stage as DAFL was visited by a junior side from England, the Dragonslayers. This representative side was drawn from schools, some of which where footy has been taught for up to four years. Aussie Rules UK has recently stepped in to enhance the program, and organised for the Slayers to spend the weekend in Denmark playing in the annual Farum Cup Junior lightning premiership and taking on a Danish representative team in the process.


The England Dragonslayers who took home the King Canute Cup.

In a bit of a shock for the home team, the English teams were a force to be reckoned with in the Cup, which included teams from Farum, Birkeroed, Slagslunde and Malmo. They then comfortably defeated the Danes in the international match for 13-14 year-olds to win the inaugural King Canute Cup, named after one of the early Danish kings who conquered England (rather inappropriately named as it turned out). It is believed that this match is the first full international Aussie Rules match for juniors anywhere (ie. fully representational of countries) - let us know if you have contradictory information (the Barassi Youth Tournaments in Canberra are the most likely candidates, depending on whether the international sides were fully representational).

Clearly the English players' rugby background had them playing a much more physical brand of footy than the Danes who have been reared more on the Auskick style. But the chance to exchange experiences was seen as a bonus to the Danes. Campion, also DAFL's junior development co-ordinator, was beaming after the match that he could now find quality opposition for his charges so relatively close to home.

The scoreboard showed a rather one-sided victory to England - 6.10 (46) to 0.6 (6), but considering that the scores at the halfway point of the first quarter were 4.1 to 0.0, the Danes did well to keep their stronger opponents honest for the rest of the match. The game was played in fantastic spirit with each team deciding the other's best player and the winners were Stuart Smith (England) and Kristoffer Noehr (Denmark). Full scores will be available on The Footy Record soon.

The Danes might have been initially shocked by the more aggressive English but in the end they gave as good as they got and there were 50-odd young boys who would have slept well on Sunday night. With such strong junior development efforts now proceeding in Denmark, Sweden and England, things are looking up for junior footy in Europe.

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