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From Caen to the Pacific: Australian football, Pierre Lechasles’ other oval ball

Australian rules football is played in jersey. ©Markholdefehr

Native Caen (Calvados), Pierre Lechasles is a follower of the oval ball, but not necessarily the one we believe. If the young 29-year-old active is licensed to the Rugby Club Hérouvillais, he is also an international player of australian rules football. This discipline came from the other side of the world, he practices it in parallel with his job at the MoHo in Caen.

“Football was too soft, rugby too brutal”

Since his childhood, Pierre Lechasles was a follower of the round ball. Graduated from a football club in Thaon (Calvados), the Caennais discovered Australian football on television at the age of 17 but the absence of this discipline in the region did not allow him to practice it in a club. It was only a few years later, when the Caennais moved to Lyon, that he was fired at the Australian football club Alpha Lyons.

I played football until I was 20, then I did a year of rugby. Football was becoming too soft for me, I needed contact. In rugby there were too many, and Australian rules football is a great mix of the two. It’s not as brutal as rugby but it’s more spectacular because the shocks come from all directions.

Pierre Lechasles

The “footy”, a derivative of rugby?

Australian rules football, locally referred to as footy, is now the number one sport in its home country. The discipline was born out of a desire to keep cricketers in good physical shape during the winter season. If one can believe that this sport is inspired by rugby, other hypotheses bring its origin closer to an Aboriginal influence or an inspiration from Gaelic football from Ireland.

In France, there are only about ten Australian football clubs. Most are located in cities known for their rugby team, such as Bordeaux, Toulouse, Perpignan or Bayonne. The Paris region also has several clubs because the region welcomes Australian expatriates.

A melting pot of team sports

Volleyball, American football, basketball, rugby, football, Australian football is in fact a mixture of several disciplines. The oval ball can be “volleyed” for hand passes, engagements are “in between” like in basketball, and game tactics are similar to those of football with attackers, midfielders and defenders.

Each team consists of eighteen players on the field, and the match is divided into four quarters. The goals consist of four posts, and the number of points scored depends on the posts between which the ball passes.

In Australian rules football, passing can be done by hand or by foot.
In Australian rules football, passing can be done by hand or by foot. ©Markholdefehr

Originally intended for cricketers, the official ground for Australian rules football is cricket, an oval about one and a half times the size of a rugby pitch. The latter hosts most matches in Europe due to the scarcity of cricket grounds and the similarity of goalposts.

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A Caennais with an international career

In 2017, Pierre Lechasles was crowned French Australian football champion with his Alpha Lyons team. The same year, he was selected for the France team to participate in the World Cup in Australia.

The former football player participated in the European Cup in Ireland in 2018, and in Sweden in 2019, during which the French team rose to fourth place in the championship. In June 2022, Pierre traveled to Edinburgh (Scotland) with the France team, to rank seventh in the European Cup.

Today, Pierre has found an alternative to work in Caen and stay up to date in Australian football. He continued rugby in Hérouville and took a license at the Gaelic football club of Mondeville, a discipline very similar to Australian football. The next World Cup will take place in 2023 and the Caennais hopes to represent France there.

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