The Raiders Tirol (for the AFL-Teams SWARCO Raiders Tirol, formerly Papa Joe’s Tyrolean Raiders) are an American football team based in Innsbruck, Austria. Founded in 1992, the Raiders since have become one of Austria's and Europe's most dominant American football teams, winning the Eurobowl title three times (2008, 2009 & 2011) and the CEFL also three times (2017–2019). Competing in the Austrian Football League (AFL), the team has won the league championship eight times, most recently in 2021. In 2022, the Raiders joined the ELF, the European League of Football.
|Based in||Innsbruck, Austria|
|Home stadium||Tivoli Stadion Tirol|
|Head coach||Kevin Herron|
|General manager||Claudia Nuener|
|Team president||Elisabeth Swarovski|
|League||European League of Football|
Austrian Football League
|Colors||Black and Silver|
In 2019, the Swarco Raiders Tirol completed their first perfect season with a record of 16–0 and won Austrian Bowl XXV, as well as the CEFL and ECTC Bowls.
The Raiders employ the most full-time coaches and staff out of all European teams, combined with their special cooperation with the Las Vegas Raiders, many teams, coaches and players regard the Raiders as one of the most well-run organizations in Europe. In 2021 they announced their intention to join the European League of Football for the upcoming 2022 season together with their league rival Vienna Vikings.
The Swarco Raiders were founded by a small number of American Football fans and volunteers back in 1992. Starting in Austria's 3rd division in the 1993 season, the team went unbeaten with an overall score of 158–11. After being promoted to the 2nd division, the team failed to continue its run of 1993, and posted a record of 2–14 in 1994 and 1995. The next two seasons, the Raiders reached the playoffs but lost their semifinals. Due to a league expansion they were promoted to Austria's top division, the AFL, in 1998.
The first two-season on the top level the Raiders lost most of their games. In the 2000 season they made it to the playoffs and played its first championship game, losing to the then Chrysler Vikings Vienna. A year later they repeated their appearance in the final, but again lost to the Vikings.
|Raiders Tirol retired numbers|
|2||Florian Hueter||Defensive player & coach||2007 – 2021||2021|
Austrian Football LeagueEdit
First Championship (2004)Edit
After losing both regular season games against its rival the Vienna Vikings, the team fared much better in post season, beating the Vikings 28–20 in a thrilling game, hosted in Salzburg, Austria and it clinched the club's first national championship. Also in 2004, the team won the EFAF Cup becoming the first Tyrolean team to win an international title, shutting out the P.A Farnham Knights of Great Britain 45–0.
Second Championship (2006)Edit
After losing to the Vikings 43–14 in the bowl game of 2005, the two teams faced each other again in the final of 2006, but this time the team from Innsbruck beat its rival from Austria's capital in a lopsided game with an overall score of 43–19. Again the game was played on neutral ground, as it was held in Maria Enzersdorf, Lower Austria.
Third Championship (2011)Edit
In one of their most successful seasons of club history and just a week after winning their third Eurobowl, the Raiders beat the Vikings 23–13 in Vienna and won Austrian Bowl XXVII, winning the national title as well as an international trophy, this is commonly called "the double" and the ultimate goal in American Football in Europe.
Runner-up years (2012–2014)Edit
In 2012, 2013, 2014 the Raiders came in second against the Vienna Vikings, who at that time had one of their best runs in history, including a perfect season in 2013. Many of the Raiders' veterans retired after the "double" season of 2011 and the Raiders had trouble replacing some of the most distinguished players in club history, despite the Raiders having more imports on their roster, the Vikings prevailed by running a well-versed spread offense and a hard-hitting defense in those years.
Fourth Championship (2015)Edit
On 11 July 2015, the Raiders shut out the Vikings 38–0 and capped the successful rebuild started in previous years with the highest win over their rivals from Vienna. Good coaching of their young local stars and with the help of import players from the United States, the Raiders regained their position as the number one American Football Club in Austria.
Fifth Championship (2016)Edit
In 2016, the Raiders once again advanced to the final for the 7th year in a row. The Austrian Bowl XXXII turned out to be a lopsided one, as the Raiders took an early lead over the Graz Giants and coasted to a comfortable 51–7 victory. After another back-to-back championship season, the Raiders again had to stomach an exodus of veteran players, however they were able to retain QB Sean Shelton and their successful coaching staff led by Shuan Fatah.
In a thrilling game against the Vikings, the Swarco Raiders claimed its first Eurobowl-title, as it won 28–24 in 2008. Three of the last four teams in the EFL contest were Austrian, underlining the country's dominance in European football. Ironically, neither of the teams who faced in the final was able to claim the Austrian title, as the bowl went to the Graz Giants.
After the Raiders went unbeaten in the 2009 regular season, it let the semi-final game of the AFL slip away, after they gave away a comfortable 21–0 halftime lead and lost the game 22–21 to the Raiffeisen Vienna Vikings. One week later, the team redeemed itself, by winning its second EFL title, beating the French top club Flash de la Courneuve in front of 6500 spectators (at that time a record attendance for an American Football game in Austria) in the Tivoli Neu stadium of Innsbruck.
In 2014, the club took part in a new European competition, the BIG6 European Football League, which consisted of three teams from Germany, two from Austria and one from Switzerland, the clubs being Berlin Adler, New Yorker Lions, Dresden Monarchs, Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna, Swarco Raiders Tirol and the Calanda Broncos. The two best teams of this competition advanced to Eurobowl XXVIII, where the Lions were beat by the Adler. The next season Tirol again took part in the Big 6, once more failing to advance to the final, which was won by Braunschweig against the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns.
In the 2016 the fortunes of the Raiders improved as they beat the Berlin Adler and Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, not conceding a single point to advance to Eurobowl XXX against the New Yorker Lions.
The final was played in front of home crowd and after a highly entertaining game, the Raiders suffered two late touchdowns in the 4th quarter and had to succumb to the Lions 21–35.
For the 2017 season, the Raiders withdrew from the "BIG 6" competition due to growing concerns over the high number of import players and the lack of sustainability of this practice. They signed on to compete in the lower-level Central European Football League (CEFL) which they won unbeaten.
European League of FootballEdit
Beginning from the 2022 European League of Football season the now named Raiders Tirol compete with 11 other European teams for the ELF trophy. They start in the central conference together with long-term rival Vienna Vikings, 2021 season champion Frankfurt Galaxy and Stuttgart Surge.
Special teams coaches
Strength and conditioning
Exhibition games against US college teamsEdit
The SWARCO Raiders board has stated that they will place a greater emphasis on trans-atlantic competition and thus have begun scheduling college football teams as future opponents. The long-term plan includes establishing a bowl game for USA College football teams to be played against the SWARCO Raiders in Innsbruck. Previously in 2001 the Raiders won a game 33–6 against Division III Centre College from Kentucky. In 2016, the Raiders played and won against Division III Elmhurst College "Bluejays" with a final score of 24–10. For 2017, the Raiders played against the Benedictine Ravens (NAIA) from Kansas losing to in the final seconds. In 2018 the Raiders hosted Division III Central College from Iowa. The Swarco Raiders won in a hard-fought game.
The Raiders' main sponsor and namesake is the SWARCO corporation, a leading manufacturer of traffic lights, signals and road surface markings. Further sponsors include Uniqa Insurance Group, the Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper, electric utility provider Tiroler Wasserkraft (TIWAG) and others.
- "Austrian champions, the Swarco Raiders, join the European League of Football". 25 September 2021.
- "PR: Austria in a double pack: Innsbruck follows Vienna – Raiders Tirol will compete in the European League of Football in 2022". 25 September 2021.
- "SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol spielen ab 2022 in der European League of Football". 25 September 2021.
- "Swarco Raiders Tirol Geschichte". raiders.at (in German). Retrieved 24 June 2020.
- "Austria". warriorsbologna.it (in Italian). Retrieved 24 June 2020.
- "Raiders setzen sich die Krone aufTalib Wise (Raiders)". sport.orf.at. 2011-06-19.
- BIG6 European Football League starts 2014 www.eurobowl.com, published: 20 November 2013, accessed: 5 December 2013
- Official site (German), (English)