France battles Australia as Round 2 Continues in IFAF World Championships

IFAF World Championship: France (1-0) vs. Australia (1-0)

Two former coaching adversaries square off against each other as France tangles with Australia on Day 2 of the IFAF World Championships at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Patrick Esume, head coach of Team France, was on the staff of the Frankfurt Galaxy and Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europe, while Australia’s head coach John Leijten was with the Amsterdam AdmiralsEsume then led the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes to a German Bowl title in 2011, while Leijten took over as head coach of Germany’s Dresden Monarchs in 2014. In fact, in the two games in 2014 they coached against each other Leijten’s Monarchs and Esume’s Hurricanes split the series winning one each.

To add further fuel to the game, two of France’s top players – wide receiver Guillaume Rioux and safety Sebastien Sejean – play for Leijten in Dresden.

IFAF WCs - France v Brazil - Rioux

Guillaume Rioux

Leijten’s Team Outback sputtered early against Korea falling behind 6-0 when quarterback Jared Stegman was picked off, but then settled in and simply outmuscled and outran an undermanned South Korean squad. Stegman had an outstanding day throwing for 133 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for another 67 yards. He distributed the ball well, completing passes to seven different receivers, with Daniel Strickland catching three for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Conor Foley rushed for 141  yards having no trouble at all with Korea’s linebackers.

With the firery Esume at the helm, Team France exploded for 21 first quarter points and then cruised to a 30-6 victory over Brazil in their opening game of the World Championships. Receiver Anthony Dable stunned the Onças, returning the opening kickoff 102 yards for the game’s first score (recording the longest play in IFAF World Championship history) and it took Brazil almost the entire first half to recover from the shock.

Quarterback Paul Durand was solid in the win over Brazil completing 13 of 23 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

The connections between the Team France and Team Outback continue as Guillaume Rioux (#11), who was the MVP of France’s win over Brazil having caught 6 passes for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns, and returned 2 punts for 54 yards, will face Monarchs teammate defensive back Damien Donaldson (#22) of Australia. The two have no doubt spent many a practice challenging each other. This will be a fascinating matchup to watch.

Taking part in their fourth World Championships, France improved their record to 2-8 with the win but are now facing a far different Team Outback than the team that did not win a game in 2011. Australia’s victory over Korea improved their World Championships overall record to 2-6.

IFAF WCs - Aus v Korea - Strickland

Daniel Strickland

Australia quarterback Jared Stegman:

“Everyone has to keep their mind focused on the game and have their head in the huddle and looking at film. We’ve seen what the French are coming out with and our players know what to look for. Our coach has instilled a lot of confidence in us because he knows the other team’s coach and playing style and he knows they can be beaten.”

“We find great pride in scrapping to the end and we’re not scared of any opponent. There’s a small country pride in doing what we do well. We are a tough, gritty, resilient team.”

France enters the game with a veteran, battle-tested squad and many of the players have participated in World Championships before. On an international stage, this is nothing better than experience. However, the fact that they racked up an astonishing 257 yards in penalties against Brazil and that lack of discipline could easily come back to hurt them against a more experienced team like Australia.

France safety Sebastien Sejean:

“I played in the World Championship in 2003 and in 2007, so I have a view of all the generations of the French national team and now we have a lot of talent, a good coach, and confidence, but we have to control our confidence. The guys need to concentrate and be disciplined. My goal is to make everyone believe that we can do it and win games here.”

“Every guy on this team has experience and if we focus on the details and we execute, we can win. In the last game we did not have that discipline and we had too many penalties, but we know we have to put that right.”

Australia quarterback Jared Stegman set a new individual and team IFAF World Championship record for the most touchdowns thrown in a single game as his four strikes through the air in a 47-6 win over South Korea outshone the previous best of three touchdowns thrown by five players.

This will be the first ever game between these two nations. Predicting the outcome will be difficult but France’s experience may well prove to be the deciding factor.

Watch the game live July 12, kickoff is at 3:30 PM EDT in Canton, Ohio.

All games will be broadcast live and streamed globally on ESPN3 in the United States, on ESPN International broadband channels where available, and at BigTimeSports.com.

 

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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