New England Head Coaches Named

AFL England are excited to unveil the Head Coaches of both the England men’s and women’s national teams. With preparations for the 2019 Euro Cup already underway, AFL England has moved quickly to secure new coaches following the departures of Mitch Skelly and Garth Nevin from the England Vixens and Dragonslayers respectively.
 
Rob Fielder returns to the England fold to lead the next generation of England Vixens. Rob brings with him a wealth of knowledge of English football and is one of the most experienced coaches in Europe, having served as the head coach of the England Dragonslayers and assistant coach to the GB Bulldogs.
Rob Fielder (centre) celebrating lifting the 2014 Euro Cup with the England Dragonslayers
 
On the men’s side, GB Bulldogs Head Coach Dean Thomas will be leading all male national teams in the lead up to the 2020 AFL International Cup. Thomas brings with him an intimate knowledge of the English player base and has seen success at both in the 18 and 9-a-side game, both with the Bulldogs at the AFL Europe Championships in 2016, and with the Manchester Mosquitoes
Dean Thomas (r) seen here coaching the GB Bulldogs against the Netherlands earlier this year
“With the Euro Cup being earlier in 2019 we wanted to move quickly to secure our coaching teams for Sweden and beyond,” said AFL England President Jason Hill. “I couldn’t be happier in securing what I’d consider two of the most experienced and successful coaches in British football history.
 
“We have a very busy two years for our performance teams in the lead up to IC20 and having consistency, player base knowledge and a legacy of success were key pillars in our search for who could take our teams back to the top of European football. I wish both Rob and Dean all the success possible in the lead up to Euro Cup 19 and beyond”

GB Bulldogs 2019 Training Squad Named

The Great Britain Bulldogs have named a 53-man training squad for 2019 featuring players from 16 Australian football teams in five leagues across Great Britain, as well as one from the London Gaelic Athletic Association.

The squad was compiled in consultation with coaching group members both here in the UK and in Australia. For the first time, senior players were also consulted for their input as to the squad make-up.

Head Coach Dean Thomas said there were some hard calls to be made in deciding the squad.

“Undoubtedly some players are unlucky to miss out, whilst for some others, the next two years offer perhaps their best opportunity to cement their legacies within the national team.”

“We made some hard calls on some players who we felt it was time to move on from,” said Thomas, “Whilst giving opportunities to a big batch of yet to be capped players, & players with only 1 or 2 caps, who we think can help drive this group forward in a very meaningful way.”

The squad is by no means set in stone, with more players expected to be added during the 2019 season.

“Inevitably someone will respond positively to their omission and stand up during the domestic season to demand inclusion, but for the most part the players named today are going to form the bulk of our tournament sides, certainly next year.”

The squad balances emerging talent with experienced heads full of international experience, and will no doubt have their sights set on defending their title at the 2019 AFL Europe Championship in London and competing at the 2020 AFL International Cup alongside the Bulldogs’ Australian-based representatives.

The AFL International Cup is contested every three years and is the largest international Australian rules football event in the world. In 2017, the GB Bulldogs finished an equal best ever sixth, and selectors hope that this squad will form the basis for one which will challenge the world’s very best teams in 2020.

12 players who competed at the 2017 International Cup are named in the squad, including Great Britain leading goalkicker Andy Walkden who has kicked 30 goals in just 12 appearances for the national side.

University of Birmingham

Four players from Walkden’s former side from the University of Birmingham have been named, something which club president Matti Darowksi says is the reward for the team’s efforts so far in the National University League’s inaugural season.

“It’s fantastic to see all of our hard work this season paying off,” said Darowski. “It’s a real statement from our players ahead of the second half of the NUL season!”

The Bulldogs’ last fixture game back in August when 14 players made their debut in a 36-point win over the Netherlands. All 14 players have made it into the squad, including Hugo Phillips, Adam Kelly, Paddy Lawson and Liam Dolling, all of whom kicked goals in that win.

 

 

 

GB Swans Enjoy Training Session at University of Wolverhampton

On the 17th November, the Great Britain Swans spent the day training at the University of Wolverhampton. The side worked on match tactics and drills and also enjoyed a classroom session reviewing the team’s three-year plan (2017-2020) and looking ahead to the 2019 European Championships and beyond.

They also performed some baselines fitness assessments in order to measure key footballing stats including speed, stamina and vertical leap.

“It was a fantastic day,” says GB Swans Head Coach Ian Mitchell. “There were some new girls from the University of Birmingham as well as from South Wales who are featuring in the inaugural National University League (NUL) which was great to see, as well as plenty of familiar faces.

“That said, there were only four girls present who played at the 2017 AFL International Cup in Melbourne, perhaps highlighting a changing of the guard in British women’s football.”

Meanwhile, GB captain Laura Turner-Ramadan praised the quality of the facilities at the University of Wolverhampton.

“The facilities were really high quality and the stats that we measured replicate those used in the AFLW. The squad have set some good markers as a baseline.”

The squad will return to the University of Wolverhampton in the New Year for another training session on the 19th January.

“It’s going to be a tough couple of months of fitness training over the Christmas period!” said Turner-Ramadan.

Check out some photos from the day in the gallery below:

Transatlantic Trophy Unveiled Between Great Britain and the United States

Triennial Transatlantic Trophy Unveiled Between Great Britain and the USA
First Installment Takes Place in Great Britain 2021; United States 2024

AFL England is delighted to unveil the Transatlantic Trophy in a new reciprocal arrangement with USAFL, the national governing body for Australian rules football in the United States of America.

Under the new arrangement, both the USA men’s and women’s national teams – USA Revolution and USA Freedom, respectively – will visit Great Britain in August 2021 for matches against the Bulldogs and Swans.

These matches are tentatively scheduled for the 21st August 2021, with the USA expected to play warm-up games in the week prior.


Great Britain Bulldogs Head Coach Dean Thomas says that its return is a positive step for the development of the sport across the two countries.

“For the players in particular,” he told AFL England. “It gives them a fantastic competition to look forward too, against genuinely talented opponents.

“This is a competition that the next generation of Bulldogs can aim to make their own. Upcoming talent, as well as future players who will arrive on the scene, can target this competition as perhaps their first foray into international footy.”

Meanwhile, Great Britain Swans Head Coach Ian Mitchell says that the return of the Transatlantic Cup is a “fantastic opportunity”

“The Transatlantic Cup is something I have heard about previously but never been involved in. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to test ourselves against some of the best nations in a different environment outside of the International Cup.

“It’s a great opportunity to create and foster positive partnerships in order to develop players, infrastructure and the game as a whole. I feel that arrangements like this could be key to the development of the countries involved but also for the general development of the game outside of Australia.”

The Bulldogs have never won against the United States, losing 10.8 (68) to 3.3 (21) in the Atlantic Alliance Cup in 2001, and then losing by 78 points in the inaugural AFL International Cup 5th place playoff in 2002.

Meanwhile, the Swans have a perfect record after beating the USA as recently as 2017 in the International Cup 3rd place playoff 4.1 (25) to 5.2 (32).

Great Britain Swans captain Laura Turner-Ramadan  (pictured above playing against the USA) was captain that day.

“It’s great for the development of the British women’s game for us to take part in a tournament like this,” she said. “We need more opportunities for women to play against the world’s most talented female footballers to improve their skills and really make our mark in world footy.

“The USA league is thriving and our game against them at the International Cup indicates that they will be a tough foe for us in the coming years.”

USA Freedom Head Coach Christina Licata says that she was excited to partner with Great Britain in this endeavour.

“We’re excited to expand our competition to Great Britain for the Transatlantic Cup in 2021. As we continue to invest in talented women footballers in the U.S., we’re seeking more opportunities for player development and competitive games as well as the growth of women’s footy in general.”

National University League Announces Tom Wills Medal

7th November 2018 – To mark the inaugural season of the National University League, which features teams from Oxford, Cambridge and Birmingham University, as well as a combined team from the Universities of South Wales, AFL England is proud to unveil the Tom Wills Medal.

In Australian rules football, the best and fairest is the player adjudged to have had the best performance over a season for a given sporting club or competition.

The medal will be awarded to the player deemed “best and fairest” in the Men’s Division of the National University League during the home-and-away season.

There will also be a best and fairest medal for the Women’s Division.

Tom Wills

Tom Wills was born on the 19th August 1835 in New South Wales. At the age of 14, he went to England to attend Rugby School, where he excelled in sports, most notably in rugby and cricket.

In an 1851 letter to his father, Wills said: “I know that if I [study] too hard I will become quite ill. We hardly get any play during school time.” The letter was the size of a broadsheet newspaper, the majority of which was devoted to the school’s cricket scores.

Despite not matriculating at Cambridge – against his father’s wishes – he did play for the university’s cricket team, most notably in the 1856 Varsity match against Oxford. He later became a notable amateur cricketer in England.

Wills returned to Australia after his schooling, and on the 10th July 1858, in a letter to a magazine, he advocated for the winter game of football as a way of keeping cricketers fit during the off-season.

Less than a month later, on the 7th August 1858, the first football fixture was played between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College. Both the match and Wills himself are immortalised in a statue outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The inscription reads that Wills “did more than any other person – as a footballer and umpire, co-writer of the rules and promoter of the game – to develop Australian Football during its first decade.”

 

Consultation Launched on AFL England Junior Program

AFL England is launching a consultation on a national Junior program which is set to be launched in the Spring of 2019.  Under the new program, the number of junior clubs in England could grow to 12, including clubs in London, Liverpool, Reading and Bristol. The consultation aims to discover where there is the most interest in junior Australian rules football.

The consultation form is available here and we would invite people to share it with friends, families, schools and anyone who you think might be interested in getting involved in the Junior program.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact juniors@aflengland.org

During the consultation period, people will be able to select a Junior club they are interested in receiving information about. This will help AFL England focus its efforts on launching a successful Junior program. AFL England will also be opening up applications for Junior Coordinators who, with help from AFL England, will market and operate the centres in their local area.

Currently, the Clapham Cubs are the only junior club operating in England, and AFL England President Jason Hill says that junior growth is high on his list of priorities when it comes to growing the sport.

“I think we definitely recognise that in order for any sport to grow in this country, it must appeal children and give them opportunities to engage and participate in that sport from a young age,” said AFL England President Jason Hill.

“We are working with a number of partners on developing this program, and this consultation will allow us to find out where to focus first, before rolling out the scheme nationwide.”

The program is modelled on the highly successful Auskick program in Australia, which attracts over 100,000 primary school aged participants annually, as well as the ECB All Stars programme which is delivered nationwide at over 2,000 centres.

National University League Fixtures Announced

With the start of the National University League less than a month away, and after extensive consultation, the fixtures for the inaugural season have been announced.

Several changes have been made to the original schedule published back in August. This is due to clashes with events such as the Movember Cup and the Fitzpatrick Cup, as well as future Great Britain training days.

Changes were also needed in order to accommodate a new team to the league, representing universities from the South of Wales, bringing the total number of teams involved to four alongside the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Birmingham.

The 2018/19 season will take place over four rounds, held in Cambridge on November 10th, Oxford on December 1st, Birmingham on January 19th and finally in South Wales on February 16th, after which the teams ranked first and second in the ladder will face off against one another on March 16th in the Grand Final.

2018/2019 Fixtures

Round Date Venue Team 1 Team 2
1 November 10th Cambridge Cambridge Oxford
Cambridge Birmingham
Oxford Birmingham
2 December 1st Oxford Oxford Cambridge
Oxford Wales
Cambridge Wales
3 January 19th Birmingham Birmingham Wales
Birmingham Cambridge
Cambridge Wales
4 February 16th Wales Wales Birmingham
Wales Oxford
Oxford Birmingham

 

Click the links below to see each team’s fixtures

Men’s Division

Women’s Division

University of Oxford University of Oxford
University of Cambridge University of Cambridge
University of Birmingham University of Birmingham
South Wales Universities South Wales Universities

There are of course two divisions – men’s and women’s – and the fixture list is the same for both divisions.

For more information like the National University League page on Facebook or email info@aflengland.org

Vixens Fall Just Short in Euro Cup Grand Final

FT: England Vixens 1.2 (8) def. by Irish Banshees 5.3 (33)

Second Half Irish Blitz Ends Vixens’ Hopes of Retaining Title

England Dragonslayers Fourth After Defeats to Eventual Winners Denmark, and Croatia

14th October 2018 – A repeat of their dual victories in 2017 was not to be as both England sides failed to retain their Euro Cup titles in Cork, Ireland, with the England Vixens losing out in the Grand Final against last year’s runner-up Ireland.

Meanwhile, the Dragonslayers finished fourth after losing in the third-place playoff to Croatia, after defeat in the semi-finals against eventual men’s division champions Denmark. Continue reading “Vixens Fall Just Short in Euro Cup Grand Final”

Euro Cup Preview: England Teams Ready for Action

With the start of the 2018 AFL Euro Cup just one sleep away, the European footballing community’s eyes are on Cork. In total, 15 countries will compete for the title of European champions tomorrow at the Cork Institute of Technology, but in order to do so, they’ll have to take it from defending champions England…in both the men’s and women’s divisions!

With the combined England squads having made the trip across the Irish sea, they are preparing for a hard day’s competition tomorrow, starting with the pool stages and hopefully ending up in a repeat of their dual triumphs in Bordeaux twelve months ago.

Vixens open with matches against Denmark and Wales who are competing as independent nations after combining efforts in 2017. The England women’s team’s remaining pool matches area against Germany and Sweden.

Should the Vixens top their pool, they will face the runner-up of a pool including Ireland, France, Croatia and Scotland in the semi-final.

The Dragonslayers will come up against the relative unknown prospects of the Czech Republic, Russia and France in the group stages, and will also aim to top their pool. Depending on their position they will then face an opponent from Pool A (Ireland, Austria, Scotland and Sweden), knowing that should they avoid Ireland in the quarter-final, a Grand Final rematch may be on the cards.

Stay tuned to AFL England across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from updates live from Cork as the England teams aim to go back-to-back at the Euro Cup!

Euro Cup Draw: Dragonslayers and Vixens Find Out Pool Opponents

Both England teams have found out their opponents in the pool stages of next weekend’s Euro Cup in Cork. The Dragonslayers and Vixens are defending champions of their respective divisions and head to Ireland full of confidence.

The England Vixens were drawn alongside the Swedish Ravens, Danish Valkyries, Welsh Wyverns and German Eagles in Pool B of the women’s division, with the England Dragonslayers drawn with the Czech Republic Dragons, French Coqs and Russian Czars. Continue reading “Euro Cup Draw: Dragonslayers and Vixens Find Out Pool Opponents”