The Sussex Swans were founded by Julian "Rooster" Clark in 1990 as the first BARFL club outside London. From the start the Swans have been a particularly British club, with the majority of players British born and providing many players to the national squad. As a result it would be fair to say the club has struggled for success against the dominant London clubs which have had a greater share of expatriate Aussie players. However this situation has forced the Swans to become more innovative. With a controversial northern winter coming to a close in which regional teams had to decide between staying with the BARFL or joining the new ARUK league, the Swans chartered a different course – expanding their numbers to play in both competitions, as well as greatly expanding their club's junior operations as one of the first British teams with a junior development officer.
In a promising sign that Setanta Sports will be putting in significant efforts to promote Australian Football on its sports channels, last week they had Miss Ireland turn out for a photo shoot with the lads from some of the Dublin Aussie Rules teams. If the blonde beauty doesn't attract attention to the great game nothing will.
The Vienna Kangaroos have announced they will host the 4th Central European AFL Championships on Saturday 9th June, 2007. The CEAFL tournament has run every year since 2003, pausing only for the EU Cup in 2005, and has traditionally been a chance for countries with only one club or European leagues not yet at the stage of fielding an International Cup side to get a game against regional competitors. This year the format will be 9-a-side with one representative team allowed from each country. At least four countries in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Finland are committed so far.
Further north, the year's second all-Europe 9-a-side championship, the EU Cup, is scheduled for September, hosted by the Hamburg Dockers. The tournament will be the second EU Cup, the first being held in London late 2005 and last year's tournament in France being cancelled.
After months of planning, the French footy scene has finally officially affiliated with the Léo Lagrange National Sports Union, creating the Commission National de Football Australien. Léo Lagrange is an organisation representing over 100 different sports in France, with over 400 member clubs, 50,000 individual members and an emphasis on youth involvement.
Details for Scotland's VB Haggis Cup have been finalised with six teams fronting up for the Glasgow tournament. The 2007 event will feature sides from Scotland, England, the Republic of Ireland and a combined Brussels/Strasbourg team.
Like the Lund Bulldogs who briefly appeared in the mid-90s, the Lund Magpies have struggled with both playing numbers and off-field issues in their history, difficulties with finding a field meaning they never even got to play a home match inside the city of Lund. The Magpies recently announced they would fold for this season, but nearby Landskrona will see a strengthened Bulldozers side playing as a self-sufficient entity in the Scania league this year. Further north, the Karlstad Dragons are Sweden's newest team, and the first in the region of Värmland. One of the Dragons' founders, Jörg Pareigis, talks to WFN about the club's development so far.
Croatia's Zagreb Hawks will play host to the West London Wildcats on March 31st this year, with the Wildcats venturing to eastern Europe for the first time after recent years saw them take on sides in Denmark, Sweden and Barcelona as pre-season warm-ups. The match will be held in the city of Split, where organisers hope a new team can be created in the near future.
The GAA may have put the International Rules series into deep freeze, but former GAA stars in the AFL are running hot in pre-season training. We have a look at the form of the O'hAilpin brothers (and point you to a great documentary on the family), and draw attention to several recent media reports on the other members of the Irish invasion.
Late last year we reported on a proposed new league by Aussie Rules UK to be run in British population centres away from London. The ARUK league was designed to use smaller player numbers and groupings in smaller regions. This aimed to address some of the complaints levelled at the British Australian Rules Football League, but it appeared it would also be run partially in competition with the BARFL's Regional League. Some of the teams listed by ARUK were indeed BARFL sides so the UK Australian Football scene was clearly in for an interesting off-season as clubs faced a big decision. It has been two months since we last looked at this issue so WFN contacted the existing and proposed new clubs to ask them how their preparations for 2007 have been going and which league they intend playing in. We've also discussed some of the problems faced by regional clubs in the past, how the BARFL has or hasn't dealt with such issues, and how planning for the inaugural ARUK season is progressing.