The sixth annual Leprechaun Cup will be held this weekend in Belfast. The event is one of the most important on the Northern Ireland footy calendar. Featuring men’s and women’s teams from across Europe, this year will see the event as a four-nation competition.
This year’s event will be co-hosted by Northern Ireland’s own ARFLI team, the Belfast Redbacks, as well as the ARFLI Women’s competition. Teams coming to Belfast for the 2018 Leprechaun Cup are the Paris Cocks from France, AFL London teams the West London Wildcats, London Swans Wandsworth Demons and Wimbledon Hawkettes and the South Dublin Swans from Ireland.
The skillset required to play Gaelic football translates well to Australian ovals. Bouncing a similarly-shaped ball, hand passing and kicking are but a few of the talents required to be successful in either game. So in the early 1980s clubs from the old VFL started scouting players in Ireland.
Sean Wight was the first Irish recruit, playing 150 games along the back line for Melbourne from 1984-95. Jim Stynes followed soon after, winning a Brownlow Medal in 1991 as part of his 264-game career with the Demons. Stynes was All-Australian in ‘91 and ‘93.
The Irish Experiment was a little more hit or miss through the 90s before Tadhg Kennedy broke through with Sydney from 2001-11, winning a Premiership in 2005 as part of a 197-game career with the Swans.
Kennelly’s success on grounds brought the same level of interest in Irish players in the AFL in the mid-2000s but interest soon ebbed once again as the hit-or-miss nature of foreign recruitment seems to have soured some clubs. Sometimes it was just a case of homesickness as players realized they were three continents and 17,000 km (10,600 miles) away from home.
With finals looming in France, the Paris Cockerels and Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes have secured their places with wins on the weekend. The Cockerels travelled south to meet the Perpignan Tigers whilst the Coyotes hosted the Bordeaux Bombers. Despite both teams getting the wins, the round also saw two very committed performances by the defeated teams.
In Perpignan, the Tigers played what might be their best game for the season. It has been a tough draw for the Tigers and a clash with the top team could have been a tough day out. However, the Tigers took the game right up to the Paris Cockerels, in the end going down by just 42 points. The Cockerels have finals to look forward, but the Tigers will have seen signs that they have a decent base to build on for next season. The club would be very heartened by their effort to push the premiership favourites to just seven goals.
With the ANZAC Cup 2018 to be played on ANZAC Day, 25th April, AFL Europe has released an excellent article that gives that background to this solemn yet celebratory event, played each year in honour of those who fought to save Villers-Bretonneaux. To read the full article, follow the link at the end of this story.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit sides will go head-to-head with the French national teams to contest the 10th annual ANZAC Cup, honouring those who fought to reclaim the town on the night of April 24th, 1918.
Villers-Bretonneux had been a key post for the Allies prior to the Germans successfully breaking through defensive lines and taking the town on the 24th as part of their Spring Offensive. This was a considerable victory given the towns vantage point over the city of Amiens which was of significant tactical importance to both sides.
As the new 2018 season gets closer for most Australian Rules football playing nations in Europe, the game’s controlling body, AFL Europe, continues to provide snapshots of different counties. Focusing in part on the past, present and the future, the series provides updates for those already familiar with the leagues featured as well as an excellent education for those new to the game.
In the last World Footy News story which featured the AFL Europe articles, the focus was squarely on the game in Switzerland, Scotland and Denmark (see AFL Europe’s Country Reviews). In this instalment we give you the links snapshots on both Wales and Croatia. To read the full stories, just click on the links provided.
This weekend’s CNFA Léo Lagrange round in France saw the Paris teams – the Cockerels and Cockatoos – hosting the Toulouse-based teams, the Hawks and Aviators. It was a highly successful weekend with both Paris teams winning, and in the process enhancing their finals prospects.
The Paris Cockerels handed the Toulouse Hawks their first defeat of the season. Both teams were locked on four wins apiece going into the match. The win for the Cockerels sees them outright competition leaders with two rounds remaining. In the other match, the Cockatoos leapt over the ALFA Lions and into fourth place after comfortably defeating the Aviators.
It has been a tough off-season for the Australian Football League Central & Northern England (AFLCNE). The first blow was the departure of the Newcastle-based Tyne Tees Tigers as they moved to join the AFL Scotland league SARFL for a variety of logistical reasons – the most obvious being travelling advantages. Soon afterwards, it was announced that Sheffield Thunder would not field a team for the 2018 season due primarily to low player numbers.
The double-whammy losses will see the AFLCNE feature just five teams for the season. But whilst there are less teams, most of the players involved last year will be out there again for their respective clubs, so the standard of football is likely to be just as high as before – maybe higher.
On this International Women’s Day we salute the women around the world making footy happen. Whether it is slogging it out on the training track, showing their skills in the heat of battle or doing all the jobs off the field that make the game happen (presidents, coaches, recruiting, media, development etc.), from a footy point of view they are putting the International in International Women’s Day. From Suva to Dublin, Paris to Zagreb, Port Malmo to Port Moresby, Cambodia to Calgary, Montreal to Islamabad, Auckland to Austin (and everywherer in between) women’s and girl’s footy is happening.
Increasingly women footballers are making the sacrifices to experience being a women’s footballer in Australia. In some cases it is to try themselves out against Aussies in Australian competition, in others it is to see if they can make it to the top against the best in the game’s homeland, and for others it is just to experience the game on it’s home turf at an Australian club. At the end of their journey they will take back a wealth of footy knowledge and experience to share ineir home land.
This year there are players such as Jess Blecher from Portland, Oregon (USAFL) who has just finished at Nightcliff in the NTFL and will play in Melbourne. Caroline Leduc has travelled from Montreal (AFL Quebec) to play with the East Fremantle Sharks and Alex Saulter (GB Swans and AFL England) is travelling to Australia to play with Melbourne University.
We asked Alex’s good friend and team mate Laura Turner to profile Alex Saulter ahead of her 2018 Australian footy odyssey.
Lyon’s own ALFA Lions have pushed their claims to defend their CNFA Leo Lagrange premiership title from last season with a big win against the Bordeaux Bombers. The win is their second of the season and if they can grab a win in their next match against the Aviators (not a guarantee) they would go to a final round match against the Cockerels in Paris hoping for a win – and loads of luck – to grab fourth place.
A big first quarter against the Bombers set up a 47-point lead by half time for the Lions. Bordeaux challenged in the third quarter, pegging back the lead, but the Lions steadied again in the final term to run out comfortable 71-point winners. The result has all but ended the Bordeaux team’s finals chances, but saw he Lions leapfrog them into being one of the likely remaining five finals chances.
They say history is written by the victors. In this case the victors are the Kingdom Kangaroos and this version of their historic three-peat was submitted to us by Sandy Bell.
The Kingdom Kangaroos won the annual Preseason Bawbag Cup for the 3rd time in 3 years on Saturday 24th March. The annual warm up tournament competed by the Tyne Tee Tigers, West Lothian Eagles and Fife’s own Kingdom Kangaroos.