Irishman Colm Begley has made the fastest AFL debut ever after lining up for the Brisbane Lions in their NAB Cup quarter-final in just his third game of Australian football. This comes hot on the heels of impressive form last week from Setanta O'hAilpin.
Over the last 15 years, a few clubs have existed in the area Londoners call 'up north' - the Liverpool Blues in the early 90s, then the St Helens (aka Northwestern) Miners and Doncaster Saints more recently. 2006 will be fourth time lucky for the region, with a crew training in Manchester. They may not be the only debutants in the BARFL this year - with an insider tip that there are groups close to startup in a few other British cities.
New French side the St Esteve Saints played their first match last weekend, travelling to Valls, Spain, to take on the Belfry Valls of the Catalan footy community south of the Spanish border. The Saints are based in the vicinity of Perpignan, in the Catalan-French region of Rousillon - and the debutante French side impressed on debut, handing their southern counterparts a 112-28 drubbing.
Note: we have been advised that the team competing against St Esteve were the club from the city of Valls (2005 Catalan premiers), rather than the Catalan overall selection. Article has been updated to reflect this, apologies to the Catalan camp!!
The Strasbourg Black Devils have officially signed onto the AFL Germany for 2006, with the young French side to be the first from their nation to experience regular league play. Having recently changed their nickname from the 'Kangaroos' to avoid clashing with the Munich side, the Strasbourgeois will play most of their season at home, though their first match is a tough road trip to Berlin on the 1st of April. Also on the schedule are friendly matches against the North London Lions and Brussels Saints.
Southern Sweden will this year play football across three levels of competition, with a 4-team Scania league feeding into a 3-team regional league. The best players from the regional league will continue to compete as the Southern Saints in the DAFL Premier League.
Colorful new inclusions to the regional league include the Landskrona Bulldozers (jumper at left) and the Göteborg Beserkers, set for their first year of regular league play after a few years of hard work getting off the ground.
After existing for many years in the shadow of its neighbour and longer established rival, Denmark, Aussie Rules in Sweden, with leagues developing now in three regions, has staked its own claim on the footballing map.
The first footy match on record between two 100% French teams was played in Strasbourg on 3 December 2005, with the hometown Kangaroos defeating the Razorbacks 91-17. Senlis are the latest new club in France, with a team also hoping to form in Perpignan in the country's south.
Luke Matias is a 22 year old Englishman from Nottingham in the Midlands who represented his country at the 2005 Australian Football International Cup. He also recently completed a Business Enterprise degree at Manchester University, but has now found himself devoting his time to preseason training with Port Melbourne in the Victorian Football League. Whichever footy team he is with, Luke is renowned for his biceps, and has earnt the nickname "Crusher" - as the profiles on the Nottingham Scorpions and British Bulldogs websites show. Natural leadership qualities have often seen him in captaincy positions no matter what sport he has played. We spoke with Luke about how he came to play footy, what inspires him and where he'd like to go in the game.
AFL club Carlton has moved Setanta O'hAilpin to
their senior list for the 2006 season. After two years on the Blues'
international rookie list, the former hurling star recruited from Ireland
has been given his big chance. He joins Sydney's Tadhg Kennelly as the
two Irishmen on AFL senior lists. All three of the O'hAilpin brothers
are currently doing pre-season training with Carlton.