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Cardiff Rugby junior relishing high marking for British Bulldogs

  • Wednesday, August 06 2008 @ 08:07 am ACST
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International Cup 2008

The 2008 Australian Football International Cup is set to go, with 16 teams attending, and over 16 nations represented. The Peres Peace Team unofficially "represents" both Palestine and Israel and Great Britain effectively represents three nations, in England, Scotland and Wales. Although the bulk of the British players come from England, and unfortunately none from the Scottish league, at least Wales now has its first Bulldogs representatives in Ed Doe and David James.

worldfootynews.com spoke to Ed, a 17 year old who is still at school yet about to represent his country at senior level on the other side of the world.

17 year old Ed Doe is a Cardiff schoolboy who has played representative underage Rugby for the Cardiff Blues in the professional Rugby Celtic League. He is now one of the first two Welshman who has learnt the game playing in the WARFL (Welsh Australian Rules Football League) to be selected for the British Bulldogs. It's believed he will be joined by fellow South Cardiff Panthers team-mate 25 year old David James in the final Bulldogs squad announced for the International Cup.

WFN interviewed Ed on summer holidays at his home in Penylan, an inner Cardiff suburb.

WFN: So Ed you’re just 17, are you still at school?

Ed: Yes, my birthday was at end of April and I start my A levels (final year of school) in September – will be doing Biology, Chem, Physics and Geography.

WFN: So you’ll be busy, a trip to an Australian winter in the summer holidays may be just the thing before hitting the books. How long have you been playing Aussie Rules football?

Ed: I started just over a year ago with the South Cardiff Panthers, just heard about it through a friend of a friend and really enjoyed the first training session and it’s gone on from there.

WFN: What is your sporting background?

Ed: Mainly Rugby. I play for the St Peter’s Rugby club in Cardiff and also for the Cardiff Blues under-16’s in the Celtic League. I play outside-half, so get a lot of kicking in the game, and I’ve also played full-back so have had to catch the high ball too. That seems to have prepared me well for Aussie Rules.

WFN: Has playing footy helped your Rugby in anyway?

Ed: Definitely! I’ve noticed an enormous improvement in my kicking, I can now kick 30 yards straight to the man (e.g. the running winger) and my kicking to touch is so much more accurate – I can aim for a spot and hit it. I’ve never been able to kick like that before (playing Aussie Rules). Also my catching of the high ball has improved too.

WFN: Has your Rugby coach noticed?

Ed: Yes they’ve noticed and give me much more of the responsibility with the kicking in the matches (rather than to the full-back or number 10).

WFN: What about the differences between Australian Football and Rugby?

Ed: The main thing is there is more space and freedom to move, and more kicking which I really appreciate. The tackling is quite different even though the game is still real physical. I’ve got used to not being able to ankle tackle but the high tackles still seem hard to adjust to – the bit about any kind of tackle over the shoulder – most of which are fine in Rugby. Bouncing the ball is also exciting – you don’t know if it’s going to work.

WFN: I think when it comes to bouncing the ball, that kind of excitement and apprehension lasts for most footy players all their careers. What position do you play Ed?

Ed: They have me playing Centre Half Forward or occasionally Full Forward.

WFN: How tall are you then?

Ed: 6’1”.

WFN: That’s not so tall for a CHF player…

Ed: I suppose I’ve got what you call a good vertical jump and I really like the overhead marking.

WFN: Can you take hangers?

Ed: That’s when you get your knees on someone’s back or shoulders?…right, well not done it in a game but fun trying it at training and I’m just waiting for the right opportunity in a match now.

WFN: So tell us, what’s it been like with the South Cardiff Panthers Aussie Rules club?

Ed: Well we weren’t too good to begin with – dropping catches, kicks along the ground, it takes a while to master the skills and the few Aussie players really stood out. But in recent months everybody’s game has improved a lot. We’ve been more competitive against the other (WARFL) teams.

WFN: So what is the new WARFL league like?

Ed: Apart from us there’s the Swansea Magpies, Cardiff Double Blues and Gwent Tigers – though the Tigers are struggling a bit, but the other three teams seem to be just growing in numbers and skills levels. A lot of the players come from Rugby, there’s a few from football (soccer) and the odd fitness freak who just likes all the running in Aussie Rules.

There’s also a combined team – the Welsh Devils – and I got selected for them and we played in the Brit Cup against Putney, Reading and Nottingham and did really well, it’s a great team. We had an international Wales v England that was a fantastic experience.

WFN: So was it out of your performances for Wales and for the Welsh Devils that you got selected for the British Bulldogs?

Ed: I suppose probably. I played for the Bulldogs in the Anzac Cup in London against some strong London sides with good Aussie players, it was a real learning curve.

WFN: And what position have you being playing for the British Bulldogs?

Ed: Still Centre-Half-Forward.

WFN: That’s quite some responsibility then. So now you’re off to Australia… how does it feel, what do your parents think?

Ed: I’m really looking forward to going out to Australia to play in the International Cup! It’s a fantastic opportunity. Mum and Dad and my two sisters, my Uncle and his two sons are all coming too.

WFN: Your cousins, how old are they?

Ed: They’re 20 and 14, the 14 year old is right into Rugby in a big way and I think he might come out and play Aussie Rules like me in the off-season when he’s a bit older. I’ve heard there’s an U-16 team going from the UK to Australia – maybe (half-joking) he could pack his boots just in case…

Ed also mentioned that countryman, David James, from the South Cardiff Panthers made the cut for the Bulldogs squad too, despite only playing Australian Football for the past 4 months. David James (forgive us for not interviewing you directly due to time constraints) is as far as Ed knows – 25 years old and a midfielder type with a background in Judo and Rugby.

So Ed, an articulate science oriented school student from Cardiff, who plays representative junior Rugby for the Cardiff Blues might be able to hold down CHF at just over 6 foot with only 12 months Australian Football experience due to his high marking. He likes the fact he can now pinpoint players and the touch line with his Rugby kicking. His Rugby coach is pleased, however Ed could, given these indications, be among several younger International Cup players coming under the eye of AFL talent scouts. Such a scenario may be premature for a lad yet to play at more intense levels of Australian Football and with A levels schooling to return to, but who knows where it could lead later? Good luck Ed and may your whole family have a great time in Oz!