Australian rules football in France
Australian rules football in France is played by eight clubs in Paris, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Perpignan, Toulouse, Marseille, Montpellier and Cergy in the French "Super league". The Commission Nationale de Football Australien (CNFA) is the official governing body for Australian Football in France. There have been a number of other short-lived clubs in the country in the past and the so the CNFA has created a developmental league consisting of an additional three teams - Pau, Saint Nazaire and Lyon.
- 1 History
- 2 National team
- 3 Current clubs
- 4 Former clubs
- 5 The French Cup
- 6 French players in the Australian Football League
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Australian football was first shown in France on Canal+ television in the 1980s. Aussie Rules had been played sporadically in the 1990s by clubs in Paris and Normandy, with the formation of the first club, Houquetot in Normandy. With the support of the Australian embassy, the club became the Montivilliers in 1998 and was nicknamed "Tasmania" in reference to the Australian state. The first game was played against Australians in 1998, but the club disappeared the following year.
it wasn't until 2003-04 when the first stable teams began to appear, the first two being the primarily Australian-expat based Paris Cockerels and the mainly French Strasbourg Kangaroos. The first footy match on record between two 100% French teams was played in Strasbourg on 3 December 2005, with the hometown Kangaroos defeating the Senlis Razorbacks 91-17.
A promotional match was played in March 2006 between English club Reading Kangaroos and a French national side in front of between 500 and 700 spectators in Perpignan, including a sizeable media presence.
Owing to the long distances between clubs, there was no national league as such prior to the inaugural 2009 season. Strasbourg competed in the Australian Football League Germany for 2006, with the Saint Esteve Saints considering joing the Catalan AFL for their 2007 season before going into recess. The first French club championship was held in Paris in 2008, with Paris, Strasbourg, Montpellier and Bordeaux taking part. Now there is not only a national league of Australian Football in France but also a developmental league as well pointing to a decided boom.
Each year since 2009 a match has been played at Villers-Bretonneux between an Australian and French football side to commemorate ANZAC Day. This event has increased in statue every year with approximately 8,000 people attending the Dawn service at the Australian memeorial.
The first French national Aussie Rules team appeared at the 2005 EU Cup in London. In September 2007 the French national Aussie Rules team competed in the 2007 EU Cup in Hamburg, finishing 7th overall with a record of 3 wins from 6 matches. The French team is unlikely to be ready for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, although they will be participating in the 2008 EU Cup in Prague. On the 11.6.2011 the French team lost a friendly match against Germany in Paris 83:19.
The "Bleus" participated in the AFL International Cup 2011, for their first time, winning second division and gaining a creditable 14th place out of 18 participants and gaining plenty of local support.
The Cockerels were formed in Paris in 2003 by Australian expatriates, although they are now mainly local French players. They have played matches against the Brussels Saints and Flying Dutchmen, as well as games against other French teams, particularly the Strasbourg Kangaroos.
The Cockerels won the inaugural French Cup in 2008 and also in 2009.
France's first all-French Australian football club, were founded in Strasbourg in 2003 by Marc Jund with some friends, calling themselves the Kangaroos. The French national team at the 2005 and 2007 EU Cup was composed mainly of Strasbourg players. Strasbourg has grown to now be the biggest Aussie Rules club in France.
In 2006, the club joined the Australian Football League Germany for its 2006 season. This required a name change, as the Munich Club was already nicknamed the Kangaroos - Strasbourg changing its name to the Black Devils. Strasbourg reverted to the Kangaroos name when they withdrew from the AFLG in 2007.
Olivier "Mickey" Lemesle, former co-founder, player, and manager of the team, was crowned EU Cup winner with England Men National Team in 2013.
The Bombers formed in late 2007 and began playing their first matches in 2008. They are the 6th club in France to play Australian Rules Football, they are also the first club in France to have a dedicated home oval.
Formed in 2008, the Montpellier Firesharks made their debut at the French Cup in Paris in June. With a young side, they finished the tournament without a win. Their first victory came against the newly formed Perpignan Tigers in early 2009.
Formed at the end of 2008 as the "Toulouse Crocodiles" made their debut at the 2009 French Cup in Bordeaux in July. At the end of 2010, they established a partnership with the AFL club Hawthorn Hawks. They won 2 Mediterranean Cup, and defeat Paris in final of the 2010 French Cup. They finished 2nd of the 2011 Championship.
Formed at the end 2008, the Perpignan Tigers played their first match again Montpellier in early 2009. They will start play in the Catalan Premiership in March 2009, together with teams from Catalonia and Andorra.
2013 saw the return of Australian Football to Cergy close to Paris.
Lyon's first local footy team, the ALFA Lions (Association Lyonnaise de Football Australien), was founded in mid-2013. They made their début in the 2013/2014 French League by taking the spot of the Aix-Marseille Dockers who were unable to provide a team for the season. The ALFA Lions also competed in the South Cup in Toulouse in February 2014. Their home ground is located at Parc de Parilly in the south-east of Lyon.
St Estève Saints
The Saints formed in Perpignan around 2006, based mainly around Rugby league players. They hosted a match between the Reading Kangaroos and a French national selection in 2006. The club also formed an organisation called Footy Catalan and considered joining the Catalan AFL, based in southern Catalonia, for the 2007 season, but the club has since gone into recess.
The unrelated Perignan Tigers have since been founded in the city.
The French Cup
In June 2008 teams from Paris, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Montpellier played in the first national French Cup in Paris. The Paris Cockerels defeated Strasbourg in the final. This competition also served as the national selections for the 2008 EU Cup to be played in Prague in October.
The teams of Paris, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Aix en Provence, Perpignan, Toulouse and Bordeaux came together to contest the Coupe de France on July 4, 2009 in Saint-Medard-en-Jalles near Bordeaux. The Paris Cockerels defeated Perpignan in the final giving the Parisians their second title in as many years.
The teams of Paris, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Toulouse and Bordeaux came together to contest the Coupe de France on July 3, 2010 in Strasbourg. The highly fancied Paris Cockerels were defeated Bordeaux in the final giving the Bombers their first title.
French players in the Australian Football League
The Australian Football League is the premier league for Australian rules football in the world. The following French players have played in this league:
- http://www.pictureaustralia.org/apps/pictureaustralia?action=PADisplay&mode=display&rs=resultset-781993&no=290 P00046.050 Australian War Memorial
- Australian War Memorial H85.55/160/134
- World Footy News - French almost pull off an upset against the Reading Roos