The fourth round of the Championnat de France Léo Lagrange 2018-2019 wrapped up this weekend ahead of the winter break. Round Five will commence in early March. To see out the round, three matches were played in Paris and Bordeaux – each shaping the ladder and making things interesting when footy returns.
In Bordeaux, the ALFA Lions took on the Bordeaux Bombers in a match that was vital for each team’s chances of seeing finals action. Each team went into the match with a win and the victor would get the jump on their opponent. The Lions got away to a good start, leading by 14 points at the first change and by 28 at half time.
The Bombers could make no inroads in the second half, down by 49 points at the final change before going down after a late rally by 39 points. The final score saw the ALFA Lions 106 defeat the Bordeaux Bombers 67.
When discussing the history of Australian Rules football in Australia, the nexus of the game has always been centred on the southern states of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The development of the game in Queensland has often been linked to the arrival on the national stage of the Brisbane Bears, then Lions and the Gold Coast Suns.
Yet authors Murray Bird and Greg Parker have spent a decade researching the true origins and development of the game in Queensland, tracing the period of 150 years from 1866 to 2016. The book “More Of The Kangaroo – 150 Years Of Australian Fotball In Queensland – 1866 to 2016” is comprehensive.
From the south-eastern population centres in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba/Darling Downs to the regional cities to the north and even west (Wide Bay, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Mt Isa), Bird and Parker have extensively researched the growth of Australian Rules football across Queensland.
The favourites won their AFL Middle East matches in Round 3, with the scoreboards showing emphatic wins to the Dubai Dragons by 59 points over the Dubai Dingoes and the Multiplex Bulls by 33 points over the Abu Dhabi Falcons. The matches marked the midway point of the season and the final games for 2018. But, more significantly, each match could have been so much different but for one quarter.
Down in the capital, the Abu Dhabi Falcons gave the Bulls a ferocious welcome. The Falcons came out on fire and gave the Bulls a devil of a time, kicking five first quarter goals and holding a decent 17-point lead at the first break. By half time, the Bulls had fought back to lead a tight clash by just two points.
The final quarter was won by the Falcons by a single point. But the damage was done in one quarter by the Bulls as they hammered home seven goals to two in a powerful third term. The Falcons held their own for the rest of the day, but would just love the chance to replay that third quarter again.
Hollywood actor, Natalie Portman, has recently visited Australia and spent some time with the Melbourne Demons. On her return home, Natalie has taken our game to the world stage with a brief mention on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, taking the "platypus" of sports into homes across the United States and the world.
You certainly don’t need to be telling me how difficult it is to put competitive teams on the field. Cairns, in northern Australia, is not an Australian Rules football stronghold. Whilst we have been able to procure AFL matches and a healthy local competition at senior and junior level, the fact remains that we are in a part of Australia that is Rugby League territory.
When we get a team on the field it comes from an enormous amount of recruiting work to convince kids especially to try the game. My own work since 2001 in getting school kids into the game has paid dividends, yet cancelled games still litter our code at junior levels. Too many, sadly.
So, I have some empathy with AFL England when they put out social media announcements to try and get past teams such as the Sheffield Thunder, Leeds Minotaurs and Birmingham Bears from the AFLCNE, or the Bournemouth Demons and Surrey Stags from the Southern England AFL to rebuild.
The Fiji Tribe successfully defended their Oceania Cup this year, taking home the goods after a thrilling weekend of U15 footy in the nation’s capital of Suva. Playing against highly competitive sides such as the Nauru Stars, the Vanuatu Volcanoes and the South Pacific All-Stars, the Tribe finished the tournament with a flourish and will look to build upon their performance in the new year.
The first day, December 3rd, featured lightning cup-style matches between the Tribe and the Pacific All-Stars, which were made up of players from Tonga, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. The Tribe’s defense held strong in the contest. The hard-working Tribe were a bit inaccurate on goal, but they ensured that every possession was hard-fought in the midfield. Simione Kaivei led the way with two goals, while emerging Inia Rabuka was influential around the contest and earned best on ground honors for his efforts. In the end, the Tribe won by a score of 5.7.37 to 2.0.12.
The thing with four team competitions – and only a small amount of rounds – is that seasons can be defined quite early. The AFL Middle East competition goes into that mode with Round 3 today, marking the halfway point of the 2018/19 season. If the favourites for each match wins, it will be difficult to see major changes prior to finals.
However, conversely, the beauty of such competitions is that favourites don’t always win. In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi tomorrow, underdogs have the chance to turn the completion on its head.
Last round, the Abu Dhabi Falcons were desperately unlucky to lose to top team, the Dubai Dragons. Outplayed early, the Falcons rattled home to lose to the reigning champions by just two points, raising the issue of what might have been with four quarters of footy. At home again this round, the Falcons have the chance to show what could be when they take on the Multiplex Bulls. The Bulls will start favourites after their last start win against the Dingoes, but the Falcons will be primed to play four quarters and steam a win.
There are many doubters and naysayers about Australian Football outside of Australia. That's a given. Most people I speak to have little idea of what is going on in New Zealand and glibly suggest all AFL ventures there to be a waste of time. However, 2 months back, Mitch Powell and Louis Herman-Watt in their edition number 28 of their 'Stoked Podcast' via the NZHerald had the task of reviewing the sporting week.
Mitch Powell watched and reviewed the AFL Grand Final and had the following very interesting revelations to make:
Over the past five years, the Manchester Mozzies have dominated the AFLCNE competition with five consecutive premierships. Yet, in that time they had not won the silverware for their end of season tournament – the Movember Cup. However, that all changed on November 25th when the Mozzies outlasted the Wandsworth Demons from London by a goal. In the women’s draw, the Nottingham Scorpions downed the Birmingham University united team.
The Movember Cup has been played since 2011 in honour of former Manchester Mozzies premiership player Nathan Blakely. Blakely played in the Mozzies maiden premiership in 2010, but passed away the following year. The Nathan Blakely Memorial Cup (Movember Cup) has been played in all but one year since with the aim of raising money for cancer. This year, more than 1000 pounds was raised on the day through donations and other fund-raising.
A few weeks ago, the Palmerston Magpies were riding a wave of optimism. On the back of consecutive wins, the Magpies sat with three wins and three losses and a place in the top five. Since then, however, their fortunes have dipped markedly, and their 111-point hiding today to the Southern Districts Crocs has been the worst of three consecutive losses which have derailed their season.
The Crocs were awesome and relentless. A fifteen goal first half decided the game, putting the Magpies out of winning contention and setting up a dangerous second half for the ‘Pies. The second half wasn’t as damaging, and could have been better for Palmerston had they kicked straight. But one goal and twelve behinds for the second half killed off any reasonable hope of a fightback.
The second round of the National University League was played out yesterday at Oxford University, and the locals made every post a winner to head the league’s ladder after two completed rounds. The round featured the Universities Of South Wales teams for the first time, whilst the Birmingham University had the bye.
Arch rivals, Cambridge University, had a grand day out to win both men’s and women’s matches and go to the top of the women’s division ladder.
The following results and story are from the National University League Facebook page:
Round 2 Recap:
Oxford made it two wins from two on home soil to move to the top of the Men's Division. Cambridge got their first win of the NUL season as the Universities of South Wales made their debut in the competition.