Thursday, August 14, 2014


Two rounds of football have been played in the 2014 edition of the International Cup of Australian Football, and now the pecking order amongst the competing nations is starting to take shape. A notable absence from this year's cup is top-10 team Denmark, giving many of the team's a chance to improve on their 2011 ranking. Here's a rundown of where the Montreal contingent are placed and headed in the week ahead.

Note: Cup format explained in more detail below.

"Canada Northwind" 2011 overall placing: 10th (Reps: Ronan Shaughnessy)
After a strong first up victory over China, the Northwind went toe-to-toe with the USA for three and a half quarters before being overrun in the final ten minutes against their perennial nemesis. With a favourable group draw can still advance to the final four as a wildcard, but the flurry of late USA goals might come back to haunt the Northwind's final-four chances.

Outlook: Should comfortably account for Sweden next Saturday and possibly still secure 2nd in their pool with a 2-1 win-loss record. Trouble is if results go as planned, Nauru, Great Britain, South Africa, Tonga and the USA will all finish on 2-1 and all will be fighting for the wildcard (Ireland, PNG and New Zealand to advance undefeated). More realistically fighting to make the 5th v 6th final and a chance to equal or better 2008's best finishing position of 6th.  

"Canada Northern Lights" 2011 overall placing: 2nd (Reps: Kelsey Martin, Margo Legault, Aimee Legault)
Two big victories first up, but none more important than the 9 goal demolition job of the USA Freedom. Basically (barring a disaster) guarantees the team a top two finish and a shot at redemption in the final.

Outlook: Should easily account for Fiji and Tonga in next two matches and finish top of women's table. Could conceivably even lose one game and still finish in top 2. Ireland most likely opponent for final.

"Canada Midnight Suns" 2011 overall placing: N/A (Reps: Emily Legault)
The team that was bolted together at the eleventh hour might have started as rank outsider, but "the other girls" have quickly established themselves as the competition dark horse. Hard fought first up win over Tonga and a gallant 56 point loss to the USA Freedom still has the team eyeing a possible 4th placed finish.

Outlook: Daunting task of Ireland next up then a very winnable shot at the USA's development squad the "Liberty". A win against the Liberty or even a narrow loss might see the team through to 4th place and a likely rematch against the USA Freedom in the 3rd v 4th final. 

"France Les Coqs" 2011 overall placing: 14th (Reps: Clemente Coste, Kevin Barranco)
Brutal first up opponents in Great Britain and Ireland saw two heavy defeats and France sitting with an 0-2 record. A serious hit to the team's aspirations of finishing in the top 6 (as mentioned by team captain Gregoire Patacq). Coached by Richmond footballer Dan Jackson, Les Coqs should register a convincing victory this Saturday over a struggling Indonesia which will no doubt lift team spirits.

Outlook: Will finish with a 1-2 win-loss record, which for some teams will be enough to make the Super 8, but France's heavy defeats will see them play off in the 13th-18th ranked final series. If all goes well, should claim the Division 2 crown.

Cup format: 
Women: 7 teams total, each play 4 randomly selected opponents before advancing to a 1 v 2 final, 3 v 4 playoff, 5 v 6 playoff, 7th ranked team eliminated.
Men: 18 men's teams divided into three pools, play 3 preliminary games within their pool, first placed in each pool and one overall next best "wildcard" advance to final four, teams ranked 5-12 move to a Super 8 stage (Division 1), teams ranked 13-18 contest a Division 2 finals round.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Montreal set for biggest ever Aussie Rules tournament

2012 Women's Cup teams

If you build it, they will come.

That was the motto used  five years ago when the fledgling Montreal footy club was desperate to get visiting teams into town and build a unique 9-a-side event that put the spotlight on rookie Aussie Rules players.

Armed with the lure of a European style city like no other in North America, for the very first time some applications for the 2013 tournament had to be refused as the tournament’s 4 women’s and 8 men’s slots filled in record time. Teams from New York, Ottawa, Boston, Baltimore and Halifax all committing to take on Montreal’s spread of home teams in the AFL Quebec Preseason Cup. An estimated 150+ players will be on hand for what will be Quebec footy’s finest hour.

While the historical blue-stoned streets of Montreal’s Old Port, background hum of French drifting through the streets and the smell of Poutine in the diners (chips and gravy with cheese curds - it’s ridiculously better that it sounds) play a big role in attracting visitors, it’s the focus on the players and more importantly the rookies that keep them coming back year after year.

The Halifax Dockers (located over 1,200 kilometres east of Montreal) will be using the tournament to make their official debut, bringing with them six Canadians playing Aussie Rules for the first time. Club co-founder Jonah Scott is excited at the prospect of what his band of Aussie Rules rookies will bring, noting that they play a huge role in the Dockers chances and that the Preseason Cup is the perfect environment to let them off the chain.

Saturday’s event will not only see a tournament rookie MVP awarded for both men and women, but several accolades and much attention showered on the first and second year players who inject a huge amount of excitement and unpredictability into the cup. In 2012 the West Island Eagles took out the men’s division with a team almost entirely comprised of rookies and without a single Australian in the line-up. It was a defining fairytale moment and represented exactly what the cup was initially created to achieve. It’s this approach of recognizing and nurturing future talent that encourages teams to unveil their debutants in Montreal’s tournament, a sure sign that after a weekend in “La belle province” and a first day of footy that won’t go unnoticed, the products of Montreal’s Preseason Cup will be footy fans for life.