There are just four matches left to be played in the CNFA 2016/17 season, with battles taking place in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Bordeaux. In an amazing finish to the season, three teams could finish equal on points after the final round in the battle for fourth place, percentage only separating those teams. The Paris Cockerels, barring an unforeseen miracle, will finish in the top four. Each remaining game will either be a key to the pursuit of this season’s “Holy Grail” or a poisoned chalice, depending on results.
The biggest match on paper is next weekend’s blockbuster between the second placed ALFA Lions and first placed Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes. Both teams are undefeated this season – a remarkable effort. A win to the Coyotes will see them in a position to win the minor premiership. But if the Lions can win at home, they will take that honour as they already have a superior percentage to the Coyotes as well as a game in hand against the Bordeaux Bombers. It will be an amazing battle for premiership favouritism for two of the leagues most improved teams over recent seasons.
On March 4th the annual West Midlands Charity Shield tournament took place, hosted by Wolverhampton Wolverines. Men’s and women’s teams battled it out to claim the first silverware of the season, all to aid the ‘Balls to Cancer’ charity – designed to raise money to battle Testicular Cancer in men.
According to the AFLCNE website, “as well as last year’s champions the Wolverines, [the day] will see the University of Birmingham (men’s and women’s), Huddersfield Rams, West London Wildcats and last year’s AFLCNE grand finalists Nottingham Scorpions (men’s and women’s) eager to make an early mark and give us a taste of what to expect this season.”
The Bordeaux Bombers and Perpignan Tigers both fought gallantly in matches on the weekend as each were determined to keep their finals chances alive. The grim reality for both is that they are both in danger of missing the finals unless their fortunes change. Both Paris teams have made late charges for third and fourth spot, so wins for both the Bombers and Tigers were as close to essential as they can get.
The Perpignan Tigers played against this season’s biggest improvers, the ALFA Lions. Played in front of the Tigers’ home crowd, both teams fought like demons to the finish line. The Tigers needed a win to stay in finals contention, whilst the Lions still have eyes on a grand final. In the end the class of the Lions shone through and they won by 17 points. Final scores saw the Lions 92 defeat the Tigers 75.
Irish defender for the Melbourne Demons Laura Duryea was charged by the match review panel with engaging in rough conduct against Ellie Blackburn of the Western Bulldogs, during the fourth quarter of the match at the VU Whitten Oval on Saturday.
Fortunately Laura was able to accept a reprimand with an early guilty plea. After speaking to the umpire who made a report on match-day, and based on the available video evidence and a medical report from the Western Bulldogs Football Club, the incident was assessed as careless conduct with low impact to the head.
The incident was classified as a one-week sanction. As Laura had no applicable record which impacts the penalty (fortunately being sent off in the IC14 grand final does not count against her). Laura's early plea enabled her to accept a reprimand.
Back in December the initial French squad for this year’s IC17 in Melbourne was announced. But that list has now been trimmed and sorted and the official men’s team from France has been announced.
Coached by Andrew Unsworth (Paris Cockatoos/Cockerels), the squad boasts an even representation across all CNFA clubs. In the selected squad there are players from: Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes (4), ALFA Lions (4), Bordeaux Bombers (4), Paris Cockerels (2), Paris Cockatoos (4), Perpignan Tigers (2), Toulouse Hawks (4), Blagnac Aviators (2). The list of reserves also boasts two Lions, two Hawks, two Bombers and one Tiger player.
The good, old-fashioned local derby appeared in Toulouse on the weekend with a double-header featuring both Toulouse teams facing both Paris teams. In a sense it was a battle of the split teams with the Blagnac Aviators growing from the depth of the Toulouse Hawks and the Paris Cockatoos being brought to life in a similar way from the depth of the Paris Cockerels.
The match of the day finished up with a thriller as the Toulouse Hawks brought back happy memories from not too long ago when they downed the Paris Cockerels. Toulouse had no finals to play for, having long falling out of that race. But they can still have a say in which teams do play finals – and the Cockerels found that out the hard way.
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”.
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.