Drive across Russia. Go on, I dare you! Its size is almost incomprehensible. Suggest you pack a sandwich. It is the largest country in the world and according to Wikipedia it covers one eighth of the habitable land mass of the earth. It cover over 17 million square kilometres. If this doesn’t yet have your attention as to its staggering size, try this. To travel from, say, St Petersburg in the west to Vladivostok in the east is not much short of 10 000 kilometres. Recommend you leave early.
The nation is almost too enormous to describe. Yet, if we change the context to Australian Rules football, they are but a mere minnow in the footy pond. Many footy nations are still described as being in their infancy. Russian footy is still in the crib.
That is what makes last weekend’s first Euro Cup win since 2011 for the Russian Czars so wonderful. A team representing a microscopic level of interest within a nation has just planted the seed for something bigger to grow. One win might not be seen as a big deal, but to those who have been developing the game in Russia that win was the equivalent of crossing the Himalayas.
The tables have finally turned in European Australian Football with both the men's and women's England teams not only claiming but dominating the Euro Cup 2017.
The most pleasing thing about both squads is that there were a number of debutants, players who have never pulled on the England guernsey before. Ruckwoman Allanah Blount's involvement in IC17 had a huge impact on her development despite the 23 year old only picking up the Sherrin in March this year.
English fans will have partied well into the night in Bordeaux after the nation took out the prestigious Euro Cup titles for both the men’s and women’s competitions. It will be remembered as a landmark day for English Australian Rules football as the years of hard work behind the scenes and on the training tracks resulted in a memorable result for the nation.
A moment should be set aside for Irish teams, both the men’s Warriors and women’s Banshees going down in the finals to the England teams. They Irish were brave, but the results in each final showed the English a long way ahead on the scoreboards, suggesting luck had little to do with results.
Whilst the victors quite rightfully will enjoy their tournament and take away fond memories, some of the lesser lights also stood out in a tournament, which continued to bring great opportunity to participating nations.
To have a kick and have some fun and chase that ol’ football.”
Such was the theme of last weekend’s Lions Cup – the inaugural football tournament put together by the ALFA Lions in Lyon France. The event brought together Lions teams from France, Germany, Denmark and England to compete for the honour of being the greatest Lions in Europe.
The format was a six-match round robin draw, pitting each team against each other once. After the six completed matches, the results saw a three-way tie on wins at the top. The North London Lions, Odense Lions and ALFA Lions recorded two wins each – the title being decided by for and against.
As the AFL world turns its attention to tomorrow’s AFL Grand Final at the MCG between the Adelaide Crows and Richmond Tigers, Most of the European leagues have had their seasons decided in recent weeks. Following is a brief rundown of results for 2017.
The ALFA Lions started their 2017/18 premiership defence in fine style in Paris last weekend at the Coupe de France. Whilst having admitted before the tournament that the main aim of the event was friendship and the creation of an enjoyable atmosphere to start the new season, it will not be lost on them – or any other team – that the Lions are back again.
Going into the pool matches the Lions started with a 32 to 16 win over the Toulouse Hawks followed by a second pool win against the Bordeaux Bombers 43 to 20.
In their semi-final against the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes, the Lions put the foot down and ran off with a strong 40-14 victory. This set up their final against the Paris Cockerels. After a strong game of defences, it was the Lyon based team that took the honours, running out winners over the Cockerels 28 to 11.
Just over a week remains before competing teams run out onto the playing fields of Stadium Robert Monseau, Saint Médard en Jalles in Bordeax. Teams are now in final preparations for journeying to the French city ready for the start of the 9-per side championship.
Bordeaux knows very well how to stage the event, having hosted the event back in 2013. On that occasion, the French teams in both the men’s and women’s were unlucky runners-up. This time around, the buzz around France is to turn that result around and take one, or both, of those titles.
But there is a class field assembled once again. Last year’s winner of the men’s draw, the Croatian Knights, are ready to go again after having performed well in the International Cup in Melbourne just a few weeks ago. The team they vanquished last year, the Irish warriors, will be determined to reverse that result. In the women’s draw, last year’s finalists – the Irish Banshees and the England Vixens are back.
Recently retired AFL great Steve Johnson and Sydney premiership player Tadhg Kennelly are joining the Sydney Swans coaching ranks.
The Irishman returns to the club where he played 197 AFL games, after holding coaching and development roles with the AFL following his retirement in 2011.
At this stage it would seem that this would remove him from the AFL payroll where he was International Talent Manager and has been heavily involved in the AFL Europe Combine testing which is predominantly focused on recruiting young Irish GAA talent.
Marc McGowan from the http://www.afl.com.au website has looked deeply at some of the current player prospects from Ireland for next season, should clubs wish to go back again to the international well. He also examines the various success and otherwise of the Irish (and by extension international) decisions made by clubs since the early days of Sean Wight and Jim Stynes.
With the trade and draft period about t begin, McGowan look at the “Irish 21” list of players to have come from Ireland and played senior level AFL/VFL football. Maybe there are some more diamonds in the rough that recruiter have their eyes on for the future.
The 2017 instalment of the Tyne Tees Cup was played out in Newcastle this weekend. The tournament has been a great success since its inception a few years back, and this year was no exception with teams coming from Scotland (Kingdom Kangaroos) and London (Wimbledon Hawks women’s team) as well as a combined AFLCNE team with representatives from the Huddersfield Rams, Wolverhampton Wolverines, Nottingham Scorpions and Sheffield Thunder.
The men’s competition featured a round robin style format. Across the day, Round One saw the Kingdom Kangaroos down the Tyne Tees Tigers. Round Two then saw the AFLCNE combined team defeat the Kangaroos. The AFLCNE team then prevailed against the Tyne Tees Tigers, setting up a final against the Kangaroos.