In one of the widest nets for players across Great Britain, with the inclusion of players from the Australian Rules Football National University League, the GB Bulldogs initial training squad has been released. Featuring 53 players from 17 clubs and 6 leagues (including one player from the London GAA), the squad will come together over coming months to train with a final squad to be announced next year for the AFL Europe Championship and beyond.
The squad features players from the SARFL (Scotland), WARFL (Wales), AFL London, AFLCNE (Australian Football League Central & Northern England), National University League and London CAA. Below are the players selected:
Ireland’s West Clare Waves have completed a remarkable year to ensconce themselves as possibly the best women’s football team in Europe – and possibly the best outside of Australia – by winning the 2018 Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Women’s Premiership. In a relatively short time, the Waves have grown from a group of women interested in playing the game to a powerhouse setting new benchmarks for other women to follow.
This report from the West Clare Waves’ Facebook page looks at their triumph and also recaps a short but decorated journey since last year.
Premiership Champions -
“What a day in Islandbridge, Dublin yesterday as West Clare Waves won the first ever Grand Final of the Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Women's Premiership in association with the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce and The Australian Embassy.”
France is about to become one of the premier women’s football nations in Europe with the announcement of the 2019 Coupe Gallia tournament in Paris next March. With women’s football growing quickly and in large numbers across Europe, the CNFA (the French governing body for Australian football) has taken the initiative to grow the women’s game further.
The following media advice from the Paris Cocks Footy Facebook page states:
“The Paris Cockerelles are delighted to announce that they will be hosting the 2019 Coupe Gallia on March 9th. This is the first 100% all female tournament in Europe for Australian Rules football.”
“Created by the French Australian Rules Football association (CNFA) in 2017, the purpose is to be inclusive, to showcase the skills of female players and to give women more opportunities to play this great game that we love. The tournament takes place the day after International Women’s day. All female clubs are welcome.
After a start to the season they would happily forget, Wanderers pulled off the upset of Round 8 when they defeated the Darwin Buffaloes at TIO Stadium. Going into the match, Wanderers had just one win whilst the Buffaloes sat within the top three. But Wanderers ignored that to record a memorable win. Across the weekend, the Tigers downed the Magpies, the Bombers were too good for Waratah and the Crocs defeated St Mary’s.
Wanderers got away to the ideal start, gaining a 15-point advantage by the first change and instilling belief into their players and fans. It was the platform for a huge second quarter where they dominated the Buffaloes across the ground to rattle on another six goals and hold a big 41-point half time lead. The Buffaloes were always going to fight back, and they turned on a five goal to two third quarter, but still trailed by 22 points. The game was winnable, but Wanderers smelled blood and held back the tide to hold on by 10 points in a huge game for the club.
It has to be said that the Bordeaux Bombers have always played to their best when at home. This has always made them a formidable opponent for all visiting teams. Nevertheless, when the reigning premiers go down to the Bombers, it is a significant event, and a significant upset.
It can always be argued that road trips are always at the mercy of how many of a squad (and who) can make the journey. But that problem occurs for all teams across the season – games still have to be won on the day, and that is what the Bordeaux Bombers did. They played a brand of football which saw their nine players better than their opposition across four quarters.
Bordeaux got away to a good start and by half time had already moved out to a 25-point lead. Not an unassailable lead – especially for a team stocked with as much talent and the Cockerels – but it did mean that the Paris team had to outscore the Bombers by more than four goals in the second half, and that would prove a tough ask for any team.
Charlie Hall found a nugget of gold in a creek near the site of a town that now bears his name in the Kimberley region of Western Australia’s far north. Further east, but still in the far north, Cairns became a port that would, in part, service the gold discoveries on the Hodgkinson River goldfields and later across the Tablelands. In both locations, gold discoveries led directly to their settlement and development.
By the 2010’s, a different kind of AFL gold is being discovered and sought by AFL clubs and this season’s national draft brought that notion clearly into focus as both locations provided clubs with yet more young talent.
By road, Cairns is around 3000 kilometres from the footballing Mecca of Melbourne. Halls Creek is even further away – about 4300 kilometres by road. Neither is in the backyard of Melbourne, nor any other state capital. Yet by way of recruiters, scouts, word of mouth and social media – word gets around about precociously talented kids. Many leave home for the cities to either further educations or improve their chances to play big time footy. It’s working.
It was just another day at the office for the Dubai Dragons. After four consecutive flags and victories over every team over those years, a trip down to Abu Dhabi did not hold any fear for the Dragons. All they had to do was play their normal way and win.
By half time, that was exactly the way things were. The Dragons scoring when they needed to and their defence keeping the Falcons goalless. By the main break, the Dragons had strolled to a 28-point lead and another by-the-numbers half would see them comfortably home.
But for any Marvel Studios Avengers fans, the Abu Dhabi Falcons were Bruce Banner. Something upset them at the break and they came out swinging – though not green – in the third quarter. They won the quarter, not by much, and said to the Dragons that pressure was the name of the game. Unrelenting pressure – the kind that wins matches.
It might only be Round Two, yet tomorrow’s matches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai could well shape the destiny of all four clubs. After two close matches in Round One, all four teams believe they can win – and all four teams need to.
The opening match in Abu Dhabi will see reigning premiers and first round winners, the Dubai Dragons, out to win a second match in a row and in the process try and secure top spot. Their title defence will be built around winning enough games to guarantee a grand final berth, and the sooner they stack the wins away the better. A loss is something that will be lurking in the back of their minds – a genuine possibility away from home – so they will be ready.
The first leg of the Rebel Shield in Cork was played out last Friday between Cork’s big two footy teams – the Leeside Lions and the UCC Bombers. The clash has been going now for a number of years and in the words of the Lions, “has provided some memorable contests over the years and it is sure to deliver once again.”
Cork, in southern Ireland, has become one of the more successful cities at growing successful teams – the Leeside Lions won back to back AFL Ireland premierships in 2016 and 2017. The UCC Bombers are the current holders of the Fitzpatrick Cup for universities. In fact, the Bombers have won the cup on three occasions in the men’s division (2013, 2017 and 2018) and also the women’s division in all three years of the women’s draw in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
There are serious bragging rights that go along with the event, and both teams give everything. The Leeside Lions stated that, “as promised, the 1st Leg of the Rebel Shield proved to be a close and exciting game.”
The rebranding and redeveloping of football in Toulouse has seen the former powerhouse, the Toulouse Hawks, initially sacrifice their results to help create the Blagnac Aviators. Then, as the Aviators passed into French footy history, the new two-team entity Stade Toulousain has grown in their place. The subsequent start of the new season for both Toulouse teams is cause for caution for all other French teams.
It is only early in the season, yet both Toulouse teams have recorded significant victories, suggesting that there is greater depth than ever before in Toulouse and both Stade Toulousain teams will be in the running for potential finals action next year.
Last weekend saw the inaugural AFL Switzerland tournament. It is the first time that an all-Swiss competition has been held and featured the established Winterthur Lions club as well as the two newly formed additions – the Basel Dragons and Geneva Jets.
As previously noted in an earlier story (see Swiss Sensations), the tournament was made possible through exciting growth in Switzerland. Basel, located in the north east almost at the border of Switzerland, France and Germany, have put together a team. Additionally, Geneva, in the south-east, have also gathered sufficient numbers to compete.
And compete they did. Over the three match round robin, each team played two games at Deutweg Stadium in Winterthur.
The NTFL deck was shuffled on the weekend with some upset results shaking up the competition. At least, the winners and losers were shuffled yet the ladder remains largely the same. Waratah brought down the previously undefeated Southern Districts Crocs, the Tiwi Bombers downed the Darwin Buffaloes, St Mary’s burst the Palmerston bubble and Nightcliff were too good for Wanderers.
Saturday’s triple-header at TIO Stadium kicked off with a revitalised Tiwi Bombers outclassing the Darwin Buffaloes. But it didn’t start that way as the Buffaloes burst out of the blocks with a seven goal to one opening quarter. Leading by 26 points at half-time, Darwin had little idea what was about the happen. The Tiwi Bombers called on the grit and explosiveness that saw them defeat St Mary’s last weekend to launch a nine goal third term. Another six goals in the last quarter saw the Bombers race away to an impressive 44-point win.