Like all teams that mean to make a statement, the Tyne Tees Tigers in the AFLCNE (Australian Football League Central & Northern England) competition are about to embark on a rigorous pre-season campaign. Undeterred by their placings in their initial seasons, the Tigers have used everything to date as a learning experience and will fine tune in coming weeks as they travel backwards and forwards between Newcastle and Scotland.
After a promising end to the 2015 season, winning four of their last five games, the Tigers stalled a little in 2016, finishing in sixth place with just two wins. The season would have exposed a range of areas for improvement, and that is just about to happen.
In a move aimed at raising the standards and opportunities for footballers across the United Kingdom, AFL England announced yesterday the details of the inaugural National Cup, set for September. The following article from AFL England details the aims and structure of an event which is sure to have a positive and wide-reaching impact on the game.
On Thursday 16th February 2017 AFL England have announced their latest national competition – The National Cup.
The National Cup will be a first of its kind in the UK with a full draft, regional teams and the first Premier of the UK will be crowned. Head of Performance, Jason Hill, announced the competition this evening and had this to say, “The National Cup will become a way for us to raise the standard of Men and Women’s footy across the British Isles. After conversations with the committees of Wales and Scotland they were keen to be involved and we are proud to be able to showcase the talent that the British leagues have to offer. We’re keen for our players to learn from one another, whether British, Australian or any other nationality, and create a competition where we get the best players, playing the best footy against the best opposition”.
Week 1 of the JLT series begins tonight at Etihad Stadium. The teams are in. Sure there are a bunch of new draft picks and traded players that will debut with clubs, Essendon will see the return of a bunch of their players suspended under the WADA code and some are just back in the team for the first time in a while for various reasons.
But you can read about all that anywhere. We will look across the teams for week 1 with an international view.
Collingwood v Essendon Etihad Stadium, Thursday February 16 at 7.40pm AEDT
Collingwood now officially enter the post Travis Cloke era. American Mason Cox has become a key forward (and a handy ruck option) for the Magpies and will look to cement himself with as many goals as possible in his second season at AFL level. Being number one draft pick Andrew McGrath will be in the sights of every footy spectator this weekend, and he will have some extra keen eyes watching him from the home of his birth, Canada. His origin story has been well documented in the past six months and we will be watching his debut for the Bombers too.
In its fourth year of operations, AFL Asia has further strengthened its ability to achieve its mandate of “growing footy in Asia” with the confirmation of its strongest committee to date, following a solid turnout at the recent Annual General Meeting.
After a two-year term as AFL Asia Vice President, former Vietnam Swan and China Red/Beijing Bomber Grant Keys will become AFL Asia’s third President, following Darren Whitfield’s decision to step back in 2017 due to work and family commitments.
Darren’s advocacy of local player development has left a massive mark on footy in Asia. His leadership has ensured the record number of locals now playing the game across the region is being fully supported by Asian footy’s governing body through new initiatives such as the All Asia Championship and local player quotas-to be introduced at this year’s Asian Championships.
AFL Fiji development officer Simon Highfield today confirmed in the Fiji Times that the nation would once again be sending men's and women's teams to the AFL International Cup to be held in Melbourne in August.
"It is the biggest event on the AFL calendar internationally, with over 30 countries competing, and both Fijian teams are going to be extremely competitive."
One old adage often used in football is “build it and they will come” – a reference to starting clubs and watching the interest and involvement grow. Doesn’t always work, but there are many cases of exactly that situation occurring. An equally valid saying is “don’t wait for the people to come to you, go to the people”. And that is exactly what the Sheffield Thunder team in the AFLCNE is doing as they take their product on the road.
After contesting the grand final just two seasons ago, the Thunder had a tougher run in 2016. A range of hiccups, not the least player numbers, conspired to derail their season. To address this for 2017, the club’s think-tank came up with the idea of travelling the region to spark interest in the game, promote the club and with luck unearth some new talent to re-establish the Thunder near the upper echelons of the competition ladder.
Weekend victories to the ALFA Lions from Lyon and the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes has seen the two top placed teams clear further away from the field as the CNFA finals get closer. Only three more rounds remain for teams to sort themselves into a final order but it looks likely now that both the Lions and Coyotes have booked their finals tickets and the remaining questions will revolve around which teams take third and fourth place.
The ALFA Lions, a club which has improved dramatically this season and impressed many footy followers, travelled to Toulouse to meet the Blagnac Aviators. In the end, a 40 point win appeared comfortable, but the Aviators once again pushed hard in their first season and would not allow a big defeat. Their efforts this season have been competitive from the outset, and the Lions know that they had to earn their victory. Final scores saw the Lions defeat the Aviators 86 to 46.
It has been a tough couple of seasons for the Doha Kangaroos, inhabiting the lower rungs of the AFL Middle East ladder and finding wins difficult to find, despite some closely fought battles. So their last start win over the visiting Abu Dhabi Falcons would have brought huge smiles to the Qatar-based crew and warmed their hearts as well.
In a hard fought and tight clash, the Kangaroos held on by two even goals, taking the match 13 8 86 to the Falcons 11 8 74. In a significant by-product of the win, the Kangaroos have jumped over the Falcons on the ladder – temporarily getting away from the wooden spoon position and handing that dubious honour to the Falcons. A small percentage differential exists, favouring the Kangaroos. Whilst the Falcons have now finished their season and cannot change their percentage, the Kangaroos will be hoping for a win, or at least a very tight result in their next clash to stay off the bottom.
There has been an adjustment to the eligibility rules for the 2017 AFL International Cup. There has been extensive consultation with competing nations following IC14 and lengthy consideration given to whether eligibility rules should be changed.
At IC14 some nations felt that other countries had a large advantage in having many players that were located in Australia and playing in the lead up to the tournament (some for multiple years),
The new rules do not actually impose any new restrictions on individuals but rather ensure that no country’s squad is completely dominated by Australian based players.
Expatriate Australians of course are ineligible to play in the International Cup as in previous years.
A player qualifies for their country by being a citizen and by having lived predominantly in that country between the ages of 10 and 16. The rules allow the AFL to grant exceptions to the eligibility criteria on a case-by-case basis if it is satisfied that the player is a bona fide resident of the country concerned, and that "his/her participation would be in the best interests of the competition".
The following article from the AFL Europe website (www.afleurope.org ) details the recent Fitzpatrick Cup tournament held in Cork, Ireland. It was a great day for the host club, the UCC Bombers, taking out both the men’s and women’s titles on the day. It was another great event for Australian Rules football in Ireland, showcasing the talent coming from universities that is not necessarily connected to the existing ARFLI national competition.
A last-minute pitch change and some early rain didn’t deter participants at the weekends annual Fitzpatrick Cup hosted by the University College Cork (UCC).
With 8 men’s and 3 women’s teams in action it was always going to be a great day of Aussie Rules action.