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.
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.
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.”