In one of the widest nets for players across Great Britain, with the inclusion of players from the Australian Rules Football National University League, the GB Bulldogs initial training squad has been released. Featuring 53 players from 17 clubs and 6 leagues (including one player from the London GAA), the squad will come together over coming months to train with a final squad to be announced next year for the AFL Europe Championship and beyond.
The squad features players from the SARFL (Scotland), WARFL (Wales), AFL London, AFLCNE (Australian Football League Central & Northern England), National University League and London CAA. Below are the players selected:
Ireland’s West Clare Waves have completed a remarkable year to ensconce themselves as possibly the best women’s football team in Europe – and possibly the best outside of Australia – by winning the 2018 Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Women’s Premiership. In a relatively short time, the Waves have grown from a group of women interested in playing the game to a powerhouse setting new benchmarks for other women to follow.
This report from the West Clare Waves’ Facebook page looks at their triumph and also recaps a short but decorated journey since last year.
Premiership Champions -
“What a day in Islandbridge, Dublin yesterday as West Clare Waves won the first ever Grand Final of the Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Women's Premiership in association with the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce and The Australian Embassy.”
France is about to become one of the premier women’s football nations in Europe with the announcement of the 2019 Coupe Gallia tournament in Paris next March. With women’s football growing quickly and in large numbers across Europe, the CNFA (the French governing body for Australian football) has taken the initiative to grow the women’s game further.
The following media advice from the Paris Cocks Footy Facebook page states:
“The Paris Cockerelles are delighted to announce that they will be hosting the 2019 Coupe Gallia on March 9th. This is the first 100% all female tournament in Europe for Australian Rules football.”
“Created by the French Australian Rules Football association (CNFA) in 2017, the purpose is to be inclusive, to showcase the skills of female players and to give women more opportunities to play this great game that we love. The tournament takes place the day after International Women’s day. All female clubs are welcome.
It has to be said that the Bordeaux Bombers have always played to their best when at home. This has always made them a formidable opponent for all visiting teams. Nevertheless, when the reigning premiers go down to the Bombers, it is a significant event, and a significant upset.
It can always be argued that road trips are always at the mercy of how many of a squad (and who) can make the journey. But that problem occurs for all teams across the season – games still have to be won on the day, and that is what the Bordeaux Bombers did. They played a brand of football which saw their nine players better than their opposition across four quarters.
Bordeaux got away to a good start and by half time had already moved out to a 25-point lead. Not an unassailable lead – especially for a team stocked with as much talent and the Cockerels – but it did mean that the Paris team had to outscore the Bombers by more than four goals in the second half, and that would prove a tough ask for any team.
The first leg of the Rebel Shield in Cork was played out last Friday between Cork’s big two footy teams – the Leeside Lions and the UCC Bombers. The clash has been going now for a number of years and in the words of the Lions, “has provided some memorable contests over the years and it is sure to deliver once again.”
Cork, in southern Ireland, has become one of the more successful cities at growing successful teams – the Leeside Lions won back to back AFL Ireland premierships in 2016 and 2017. The UCC Bombers are the current holders of the Fitzpatrick Cup for universities. In fact, the Bombers have won the cup on three occasions in the men’s division (2013, 2017 and 2018) and also the women’s division in all three years of the women’s draw in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
There are serious bragging rights that go along with the event, and both teams give everything. The Leeside Lions stated that, “as promised, the 1st Leg of the Rebel Shield proved to be a close and exciting game.”
The rebranding and redeveloping of football in Toulouse has seen the former powerhouse, the Toulouse Hawks, initially sacrifice their results to help create the Blagnac Aviators. Then, as the Aviators passed into French footy history, the new two-team entity Stade Toulousain has grown in their place. The subsequent start of the new season for both Toulouse teams is cause for caution for all other French teams.
It is only early in the season, yet both Toulouse teams have recorded significant victories, suggesting that there is greater depth than ever before in Toulouse and both Stade Toulousain teams will be in the running for potential finals action next year.
Last weekend saw the inaugural AFL Switzerland tournament. It is the first time that an all-Swiss competition has been held and featured the established Winterthur Lions club as well as the two newly formed additions – the Basel Dragons and Geneva Jets.
As previously noted in an earlier story (see Swiss Sensations), the tournament was made possible through exciting growth in Switzerland. Basel, located in the north east almost at the border of Switzerland, France and Germany, have put together a team. Additionally, Geneva, in the south-east, have also gathered sufficient numbers to compete.
And compete they did. Over the three match round robin, each team played two games at Deutweg Stadium in Winterthur.
As reported on the www.afleurope.org website, Switzerland is set for its first official national tournament when the Winterthur Lions take on the newly created Swiss teams, the Basel Dragons and the Geneva Jets. In a relatively short time, Swiss footy has grown from one club to three, which is impressive growth of the game within a single European country by any standards.
After months of preparation and planning, this Sunday will see the first Swiss tournament take place between hosts the Winterthur Lions, and newly established clubs the Basel Dragons and Geneva Jets.
As a first for football in the nation, the 9-a-side tournament will act as the inaugural Australian Football competition in Switzerland, as the teams prepare for the first season of the Swiss League set to take place in 2019.
The latest initiative of AFL England, the National University League, commenced last weekend. The competition brings together the talent in men’s and women’s football across England and southern Wales and is running also as a prototype for a wider uptake across all of Europe.
Cambridge University held nominal favouritism going into the event for the men’s draw, as much to do with being the host team as anything else, whilst the women’s draw was a little less predictable given the comparative lack of competition in preceding years. The competition combined players from each university who had played for the team before as well as new faces, providing a great opportunity to further grow the game in universities.
Sarah Black reports on the www.afl.com.au website about the impact that Greater Western Sydney AFLW player, Cora Staunton, has had on the women’s game in terms of more Irish women chasing an AFLW dream.
The 2019 AFL Women's season will see five Irish born-and-bred players, including Staunton, on club lists.
It's a noticeable increase from the two in 2018, one of whom, expat and now-delisted Demon Laura Duryea, played her football in Melbourne before being drafted.
The four new recruits come from a Gaelic football background, with Sarah Rowe (Collingwood rookie), Ailish Considine (Adelaide rookie), Yvonne Bonner (GWS rookie) and Aisling McCarthy (Western Bulldogs' senior list), moving from across the world to play AFLW.