Oxford Claim Dual National University League Minor Premiership Honours

After a blistering performance in the final round of the National University League, The University of Oxford have been crowned minor premiers in both the Men’s and Women’s Division. The sides will now face the University of Birmingham in the NUL Grand Finals on March 9th.

In its inaugural season, the National University League welcomed teams from Oxford, Birmingham and Cambridge as well as a combined Universities of South Wales side as they battled it out over four rounds of fixtures.

Heading into the final round, the men’s Grand Final line-up was already assured, but a dominant Oxford win over Birmingham ensured that it was the Dark Blues who clinched the minor premiership.

And it was a case of anything you can do, we can do better as the Oxford women leapfrogged both Cambridge and Birmingham to seal a place in the Grand Final, securing the minor premiership in the process.

“We’re thrilled to not only have participated in the inaugural National University League,” said University of Oxford Australian Rules Football Club president Romy Minko, “But to be finishing at the top of the ladder in both divisions is the icing on the cake!

“Both teams have trained hard this season, and I know for a fact that every player contributed to this end result. We knew that the girls needed to grab a result in the final round, and they did exactly that. Bring on the Grand Final!

“A big thank you to all the other clubs and to AFL England for bringing the season together in the first place!”

Round 4 also saw the culmination of the competition for leading goal kicker. Pauline O’Malley’s Cambridge side had a bye for the final round, and she knew it would be a tough ask for anyone to catch her. Oxford’s Stephanie Filbay had a crack, kicking seven goals over the course of the round to bring her total for the season to nine, just short of O’Malley’s tally of 12.

Final Standings

Pauline O’Malley (Cambridge) – 12 goals
Stephanie Filbay (Oxford) – 9 goals
Meg Davies (Birmingham) – 8 goals
Lila Wielemans & Lottie Colquhoun (Birmingham) – 5 goals

In the Men’s Division, Ben Doherty was six goals clear of the rest of the field heading into Round 4, courtesy of the 13 goals he kicked in Round 2. In the end, Doherty took the title with ease, adding a further 16 today – eight in each match.

“He’s been a real asset to the club,” continued Minko. “As much for his leadership and encouragement as his goal-kicking prowess. It’s well deserved.”

Final Standings

Ben Doherty (Oxford) – 29 goals
Tim Haskett (Oxford) – 15 goals
James Williams (Birmingham) & Josh Davey (Universities of South Wales) – 7 goals

The attention of all teams now turns to the Grand Finals which will be held in Oxford on Saturday, 9 March. There will also be 3rd place playoffs in each Division, bringing all four sides together for the first time.

England Dragonslayers Announce 2019 Euro Cup Squad

England Dragonslayers Head Coach Dean Thomas has named his first squad in preparation for the 2019 AFL Europe Euro Cup in June.

Last year the Dragonslayers bowed out to eventual champions Denmark in the semi-finals, and George Dibble, Michael Sharp, Cameron Cope, Rob Goliah, Adam Morris and Andy Walkden are the only players returning from the 2018 Euro Cup squad.

All but four of the players in the 16-man squad play their football outside of the capital, showcasing the strength of the Central & Northern England league. The Dragonslayers also welcome Sam Walon as the first player from the National University League to be selected for England. Walon has kicked four goals for the undefeated University of Birmingham so far this season.

 

There are six debutants in the squad, including Jack Coughlan (North London Lions), who sits in second place on the list of Great Britain Bulldogs all-time goal kickers along with Luke Carrigan (West London Wildcats) and Adam Kelly (Manchester Mosquitoes).

“We’ve gone early with selecting this side to give these boys plenty of time to prepare,” said Thomas. “We know not everyone in the English footy landscape agrees with this move, but we do know that everyone here will be supporting these players and backing them to get a good result.”

Myles Hudson (Wimbledon Hawks) is the new captain of the England Dragonslayers, having been elected by the players themselves. Hudson then chose Andy Cochran (Manchester Mosquitoes) as his vice-captain.

Head Coach Thomas says that this is an important step in giving the players ownership over the team and the path they wish to take going forward.

“With some experienced players being unavailable for the Sweden trip, it is a fantastic opportunity for this young group to establish themselves. We will keep our options open with regards to emergencies should any of these players become unavailable for any reason between now and the end of June, but we are very comfortable with the 16 named.”

The 2018 Euro Cup takes place in Norrtälje, Sweden on the 29th June 2019.

NUL All-Stars to Face Irish Universities Side

AFL England is delighted to announce that a team representing the National University League will take on an Irish Universities team this year as university football continues to grow across Great Britain and Ireland.

The International University Test Matches will take place on April 20th in Dublin, and feature both Men’s and Women’s fixtures.

The NUL All-Stars team will be selected from some of the best players in the National University League’s inaugural season. More details about the selection process for the All-Stars will be

“I’ve seen first-hand the passion and enthusiasm on display by each of the member universities in the National University League,” said NUL coordinator Will Shillibier. “I am delighted that this will be recognised and rewarded with the opportunity to represent England and Wales abroad.”

This fixture is the latest in the AFL England ‘All Stages, All Ages’ strategy which is committed to providing footballing opportunities to players, whatever stage they are at.

“After a very successful inaugural NUL, we wanted to test them against the best Ireland has to offer,” said AFL England President Jason Hill. “In the lead-up to the AFL Europe Championships and International Cup 2020 I’m sure both our National Teams will be looking on the games, and wider competitions, to see the up and coming talent that our Universities have to offer.”

Ireland has shown itself to be consistently one of the best European footballing nations, winning the nine-a-side Euro Cup in 2011 and 2012, and the 18-a-side AFL Europe Championship in both 2010 and 2013.

At a university level, the UCC Bombers are three-time Fitzpatrick Cup champions in the men’s tournament while the UCC Crusaders have won every women’s tournament since its inception.

AFL Ireland Women’s Coach Mike Currane said “This is another very exciting development for European & global international football. It’s also massive for Irish Women’s football particularly being announced at the same time as the first ever AFL Ireland Women’s Universities Cup. The games will provide another opportunity and stepping stone towards full International Australian football for students. With university football in its infancy but growing in both regions this represents a very exciting step, providing us as National Coaches another opportunity to test and develop players.”

Meanwhile, Irish Warriors Head Coach Brian Currane added that the fixtures will play a “big part” in the National Team Development Program.

“I am delighted to be involved in this exciting announcement as it comes at a key time for the growth of AFL Ireland. With the Universities having a large pool of up and coming talent, this is a great opportunity for them to experience full 18-a-side football and to represent the Irish Universities team.”

 

Brummy Marvelous! Lions Men into NUL Grand Final

Birmingham turned up the heat on home soil as they won all four of their games to jump to the top of both the Men’s and Women’s division.

After a bye in Round 2, the two sides jumped straight back into the fray as the men’s team kept up their unbeaten record.

A total of seven individual goal-kickers saw them see of the Universities of South Wales (UoSW) team, and they followed that up by soundly beating Cambridge. Four goals from James Williams and three for Ciaran Jeanes across the round helping their side secure a spot in the inaugural NUL Men’s Grand Final with a round to spare.

Birmingham University Women’s Team

Meanwhile, in the Women’s Division, Birmingham are also sitting in top spot, after four goals from Neave Dent helped them thrash the UoSW by 58 points, the biggest margin of victory in the Women’s Division this season.

They then put in another dominant display keeping Cambridge goalless in a rematch of the first-ever NUL match.

The Birmingham teams now have a combined record of 7-1 across the two divisions this season, and haven’t lost an NUL match since the opening game of the season against Oxford Women in November.

Meanwhile, the UoSW Men’s team recorded their first win of the season with a 7.10 (52) to 4.9 (33) defeat over Cambridge in the battle for third place in the Men’s Division.

Soundly beaten in both Round 2 matches – including a 110-point mauling at the hands of Oxford – the team bounced back and reversed a 51-point loss against Cambridge into a 19-point win thanks to three goals from Josh Davey, who scored five across the entire round.

Cambridge University Men’s Team

It was a disappointing end to the regular season for the Cambridge sides, with a win apiece for both their men’s and women’s sides.

The women now sit second in the ladder behind Birmingham on percentage only and will have a nervous wait ahead of Round 4 to see if they can hold on to a spot in the Grand Final.

For the Cambridge Men, they were the beneficiaries of a 50-0 forfeit win over UoSW, but still missed out on a spot in the Grand Final

Round 4 takes place in Cardiff on February 16th as the regular season draws to a close. With the top two teams confirmed in the Men’s Division, all eyes will be on Oxford to see if they can overtake Cambridge in the Women’s Division and also make it to the Grand Final.

Round 3 Results

Men’s Division
Birmingham 11.12 (78) def. Universities of South Wales 2.5 (17)
Birmingham 9.6 (60) def. Cambridge 3.6 (24)
Cambridge def. UoSW (forfeit – 50-0)

Women’s Division
Birmingham 10.8 (68) def. Universities of South Wales 1.4 (10)
Birmingham 4.9 (33) def. Cambridge 0.1 (1)
Cambridge 6.4 (40) def. Universities of South Wales 2.11 (23)

Round 4 Fixtures

Men’s & Women’s Division

Universities of South Wales vs Birmingham
Universities of South Wales vs Oxford
Birmingham vs Oxford

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.