The Dublin Rebels travel to Brussels today with the aim of retaining the Atlantic Cup title for Ireland. The Atlantic Cup is the official Western European Championship for amateur clubs. On Saturday they face the Brussels Tigers in their Semi-Final with the winner facing the winner of the Villeneuve d’Ascq Vikings (FRA) v Hilversum Hurricanes (NL) semi in Sunday’s Final. A win for the Dublin Rebels would give Ireland it’s third title in six years, pulling ahead of the Dutch who have also won two titles to date and the Belgians with one. The Belfast Trojans won the 2013 tournament, played at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin.
Brussels Tigers v Dublin Rebels
The Rebels finished their 2014 season as the third ranked team in Ireland, though with an impressive 7-1 regular season record (same as the Champions). The Tigers won the Francophone Conference, but lost to the Flemish Conference champions in the Belgian Bowl. They won the Belgian Bowl in 2013. As with all International tournaments at this level, the host team usually has the big advantage of having it’s full squad in situ – with simple economics/availability dictating that the travellers cannot bring every player on their rosters. While the Rebels are travelling with a reasonably strong squad, the Tigers should have the numerical advantage. The Rebels last faced Belgian opposition in Brussels in the 2010 Atlantic Cup – losing by 2 points to West Flanders in the final. The Tigers were defeated by Trinity College in the 2013 Atlantic Cup Semi-finals. While most experts would agree that the IAFL is currently a slightly stronger league than the BFL, it is likely that this game will come down to home field and numerical advantage for the Tigers versus superior talent for the Rebels. Rebels QB Andy Dennehy and RB Simon Mackey will be the key players.
Villeneuve d’Ascq Vikings v Hilversum Hurricanes.
The addition of France to the Atlantic Cup family is expected to give the tournament a major boost in both territorial and standard of play terms. The Vikings are a significant upgrade from the normal Luxembourg entry. As they are the first French entrant, there is an element of the unknown about how they will match up. Villeneuve d’Ascq is a large club, fielding two squads at senior level, with the best of those playing in the ‘Casque d’Argent’ Division of the French League. The Vikings had an impressive 6-1-1 record, winning their conference. Like all of the previous Dutch entries, the Hilversum Hurricanes are expected to be strong. Recently promoted, they now play in the Dutch superleague which is affiliated to GFL International’s semi-pro European Football League. As such, they have been dubbed the tournament favourites and will be difficult to defeat should they reach the final.
2014 Atlantic Cup Schedule:
6th September – Semi-Finals.
7th September – Finals & Third place play-off.