Australian Football International Cup
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2017 AFL International Cup
SportAustralian rules football
Inaugural season2002
No. of teams2017: 18 men's & 8 women's
CountryHost: Australia
Most recent
champion(s)
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (men)
Republic of Ireland Ireland (women)
Most titlesPapua New Guinea Papua New Guinea
(men; 3 titles)
Republic of Ireland Ireland (women; 2 titles)
TV partner(s)YouTube[1]
Official websiteafl.com.au/internationalcup
Tournaments

The Australian Football International Cup (also known as the AFL International Cup or simply the IC) is a triennial international Australian rules football sport competition. It is the biggest worldwide tournament in the sport and is open to all nations (except for Australia due to the presence of the professional AFL competition and an abundance of semi-professional leagues). More than 26 nations have participated and the competition has expanded into multiple pools and both men and women's divisions. The most recent event 2020 was postponed and then cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic[2] and subsequently postponed until 2024.[3] At the time of the last tournament in 2017, the sport had a record 170,744 players outside Australia (11% of total players) growing at a rate of 25% per annum (as compared to an Australian participation growth rate of 10%).[4]

The inaugural 2002 tournament was organised by the first world governing body, the International Australian Football Council. With the AFL Commission assuming control over the game internationally, since 2005 it has been run by the game development arm of the Australian Football League. The move marked the AFL Commission's first interest in representative competition since it finalised the winding up of state representation in 1999. The IC Grand Final of each men's tournament has been held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as a curtain raiser to a home-and-away match of the AFL premiership season. Despite being run by the AFL the competition does not follow the AFL's Laws of the Game, and is played with several variations, for example the 25-metre penalty used by many amateur competitions, and shorter quarters.

Although the competition has grown, its status has remained low for more than two decades and the arrangement has been criticised due to the focus on the domestic competition as well as the AFL's commitment to fund and promote the sport internationally being questioned.[5][6][7] The international governing body has itself has cited "the significant investment required from the AFL to host the event" as a primary reason for its ongoing postponement.[3] Competition scheduling discourages it as a standalone spectator event with few pool matches played at stadiums; matches are generally played on weekdays during business hours and rarely with access to ticketed admission, allocated seating, or covered areas. The event and matches receive very little if any promotion. Though a few blockbusters have been played as curtain raisers to AFL matches, they are generally not advertised and attract mostly neutral observers as they filter in early for the main event the record for which was 76,703 at Papua New Guinea vs New Zealand at the 2008 IC Grand Final there for the 2008 AFL Second Qualifying final. Despite the limited accessibility for spectators some regional matches played on weekends have attracted significant attendances, with the current attendance record of 5,000 at The Showgrounds, Wangaratta.

Eligibility rules are very strict compared those of other international competitions. Generally speaking players must be a citizen of the country they represent and have lived there through roughly middle school and high school ages (when most players usually learn the key skills required). IC criteria ensures that expatriate Australians, Australians with overseas ancestry and those who moved to Australia at a young age are ineligible to compete (with the exception of the women's OzIM team, which was composed of indigenous and multicultural Australians). These rules, combined with professional contracts and limited pathways for players typically precludes professional players from participating. In addition there is a per team cap on players registered with Australian clubs. Despite this, since the 2011 competition, the cup has featured a number of AFL listed internationals and rookies, however these players had to first negotiate a release from their AFL/AFLW contracts before nominating and are not paid for their appearances. To date, only two women, Laura Duryea (Melbourne FC/Ireland) and Clara Fitzpatrick (St Kilda FC/Ireland), have played at the highest level in both competitions. Likewise, the tournament forms a pathway for international players to the AFL, with numerous players having been rookie listed by AFL clubs after their performances in the competition.

History

When the International Australian Football Council was formed in 1995 one of its aims was to 'establish and promote an official World Cup of Australian Football'. At the time it was thought that 2008, being the 150th anniversary of the game, was the appropriate date.

However, in 1999 a proposal was received from the New Zealand Australian Football League (NZAFL), suggesting that the World Cup be brought forward to 2002. This was accepted by the council and, following visits to many countries, IAFC public relations officer Brian Clarke drafted a discussion paper and draft regulations for circulation to the various national bodies.

An approach was then made to the AFL, asking for their support in staging the event. The AFL agreed on the basis that the event was renamed the "International Cup". An organising committee, chaired by Ed Biggs and including AFL and IAFC representatives, was then appointed.

The inaugural competition, the 2002 Australian Football International Cup, was held between 14 August and 23 August 2002 (in conjunction with the International Australian Football Council), with 11 countries competing including Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All matches were played in Melbourne at mainly second tier suburban and Victorian Football League home grounds. Ireland defeated Papua New Guinea in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The second cup in 2005 saw the addition of Spain but the withdrawal of Denmark and Nauru for financial reasons. While most of the venues were similar to 2002, it was the first tournament to have matches held outside Melbourne, with the Victorian city of Wangaratta hosting one of the later rounds. New Zealand won their first championship.

The third cup in 2008 saw a record sixteen nations with China, India, Sweden, Finland and a combined Israel-Palestine side (known as the Peres Peace Team) debuting.[8] Tonga entered as a seventeenth team, but as they were unable to commit to the full draw they played a series of multicultural exhibition matches against Team Asia and Team Africa, sides drawn from Melbourne's migrant communities. Like the previous cup, the 2008 event had some matches played outside of Melbourne with the western Victorian city of Warrnambool billed as the co-host and other games being held in Geelong and at Royal Park, Melbourne, featured as a primary venue in subsequent Cups. Papua New Guinea, which had advanced to the Grand Final in both previous tournaments, won its first title.

The fourth tournament, the 2011 Australian Football International Cup, was the first to play matches outside of Victoria, with Sydney being billed as co-host. Blacktown International Sports Park and suburban grounds hosted some of the early round matches and a historic first international at ANZ Stadium between the USA and South Africa played as a curtain raiser to a Sydney Swans AFL match.[9] A record 18 nations competed,[10] and a women's division was competed for alongside the men's competition for the first time.[11][12] It was the first tournament to feature a side from Australia, the OzIM women's team, composed of amateur indigenous and multicultural players, however the team did not perform well. It was also the first tournament to be split into divisions, seeded from an opening round lighting-style format similar to the 2011 NAB Cup. The tournament saw the addition of teams from Fiji (who went on to take out Men's Division 2), France and Timor-Leste. Tonga, who had previously withdrawn, also competed but Finland and Samoa did not send teams. Ireland won the title in both men's and women's divisions.

The 2014 Australian Football International Cup saw a significant increase in international and media interest. Once again, 18 teams competed. The Israel-Palestine combine was no longer represented and Denmark announced a return to its domestic game development policy. Indonesia and Pakistan made debuts in their place. As in previous tournaments, one of the rounds was played outside of Melbourne, with matches played at suburban grounds in Melbourne along with regional matches at Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong. South Africa, Fiji and France were the standout improvers. Papua New Guinea regained their title in the men's, winning their second title in five tries, while Sweden finished top of division 2. Fiji and Tonga debuted in the women's division and the United States and Canada both fielded two women's teams making a record 7 teams. Canada achieved a historic first ever title in the women's, defeating Ireland at Punt Road Oval.

The 2017 Australian Football International Cup once again featured 18 men's teams, including debutante Sri Lanka, reflecting the game's growth in the Indian subcontinent. European teams were finding travel difficult, with sides that competed in the IC and EU Cup pulling out, though Croatia and Germany made solid debuts. For the first time, the men's divisions were determined prior to the tournament instead of preliminary matches. Two themed rounds were featured: the School round, where matches were played at Victorian schools, and the Community round, as in 2014 where matches were played at suburban grounds in Melbourne and Geelong. Papua New Guinea won back-to-back men's titles, Croatia won a historic first Division 2 title. In the women's, Great Britain, Pakistan and the European Crusaders joined a record field of eight teams with no nations fielding more than one team. Ireland regained its women's title over Canada at Docklands Stadium in the first women's grand final match played as an AFL curtain raiser.

The 2020 International Cup was scheduled for 21 July – 8 August in Sunshine Coast, Queensland. It was initially postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic[13] before being cancelled altogether in 2021. Prior to the tournament several changes had been announced. Criteria were made more strict, reducing the number of Australian based players allowed to compete. New Zealand announced the planned entry of its first women's team. The AFL had, for the first time, announced capping the men's competition to 16 teams and the women's to eight.[14]

In August 2021, the AFL announced that the IC would return in 2023 to align with its original three-year schedule. No host as yet been announced.[15] On 22 April 2022, the AFL announced it was postponing the International Cup until 2024 citing "significant investment required from the AFL to host the event".[3] The AFL did not commit to a host, but alluded to the possibility that the winning Sunshine Coast bid may stand.[3]

Men's International Cup

Nation Moniker 2002 (11) 2005 (10) 2008 (16) 2011 (18) 2014 (18) 2017 (18)
Canada Canada Northwind 9th 7th 6th 10th 5th 7th
China China Dragons - - 15th 17th 16th 13th
Croatia Croatia Knights - - - - - 11th
Denmark Denmark Vikings 4th W/D 11th 8th - -
Fiji Fiji Tribe - - - 13th 10th 8th
Finland Finland Icebreakers - - 14th - 15th -
France France Les Coqs - - - 14th 11th 10th
Germany Germany Eagles - - - - - 12th
United Kingdom Great Britain Bulldogs 6th 6th 9th 7th 9th 6th
India India Bombers - - 16th 16th 18th 18th
Indonesia Indonesia Garudas - - - - 17th 16th
Republic of Ireland Ireland Warriors 1st 4th 4th 1st 2nd 3rd
IsraelState of Palestine Israel-Palestinian territories Peres Team for Peace - - 13th 15th - -
Japan Japan Samurais 10th 9th 8th 12th 14th 14th
Nauru Nauru Chiefs 8th W/D 5th 6th 7th 5th
New Zealand New Zealand Hawks[16] 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd 3rd 2nd
Pakistan Pakistan Dragoons - - - - 12th 17th
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Mosquitoes 2nd 2nd 1st 2nd 1st 1st
Samoa Samoa Kangaroos 7th 5th 10th - - -
South Africa South Africa Lions 11th 8th 3rd 5th 4th 9th
Spain Spain Bulls - 10th - - - -
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Lions - - - - - 15th
Sweden Sweden Elks - - 12th 11th 13th -
East Timor Timor-Leste Crocs - - - 18th - -
Tonga Tonga Tigers - - W/D 9th 6th -
United States United States Revolution 5th 3rd 7th 4th 8th 4th
"W/D" = Withdrew from the tournament without playing a match after officially committing to field a side that year.[17][18]

Division 1 Grand final and third place playoff results

Prior to 2011, all men's teams competed in one division.

Year Host Grand Final match Third Place Playoff match Number of teams
Winner Score Runner-up 3rd place Score 4th place
2002
Details
Melbourne[19]
Ireland
[20]
7.9 (51) - 2.7 (19)
Papua New Guinea

New Zealand
3.7 (25) - 2.4 (16)
Denmark
11
2005
Details
Melbourne, Wangaratta[21]
New Zealand
[22]
7.8 (50) - 5.2 (32)
Papua New Guinea

United States
10.5 (65) - 4.6 (30)
Ireland
10
2008
Details
Melbourne, Warrnambool[23]
Papua New Guinea
[24]
7.12 (54) - 7.4 (46)
New Zealand

South Africa
4.9 (33) - 5.2 (32)
Ireland
16
2011
Details
Melbourne, Sydney[9]
Ireland
[25]
8.5 (53) - 5.5 (35)
Papua New Guinea

New Zealand
12.4 (76) - 6.5 (41)
United States
18
2014
Details
Melbourne
Papua New Guinea
6.9 (45) - 6.6 (42)
Ireland

New Zealand
6.8 (44) - 6.7 (43)
South Africa
18
2017
Details
Melbourne
Papua New Guinea
4.5 (29) - 4.4 (28)
New Zealand

Ireland
7.6 (48) - 2.4 (16)
United States
18
2020 (Cancelled) Sunshine Coast Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled -
2024
Details
TBA

Overall tournament results

Sorted by winning percentage, with draws counted as half a win, half a loss, and percentage (points for/points against x 100).

Pos Nation P W L D PF PA  % PTS %W
1  New Zealand 33 28 5 0 2536 711 356.68 112 84.85
2  Papua New Guinea 32 27 5 0 2404 852 282.16 108 84.38
3  Croatia 5 4 1 0 334 72 463.89 16 80
4  Ireland 33 26 7 0 1840 810 227.16 100 78.79
5  United States 33 21 12 0 2010 1050 191.43 84 63.64
6  Nauru 26 16 10 0 1671 1056 158.24 64 61.54
7  Germany 5 3 2 0 230 143 160.84 12 60
8  Tonga 11 6 5 0 697 450 154.89 24 54.55
9  Samoa 17 9 8 0 783 652 120.09 36 52.94
10  South Africa 32 16 16 0 1372 1503 91.28 64 50
11  Canada 33 15 18 0 1332 1043 127.71 60 45.45
12  Fiji 16 7 9 0 899 538 167.10 28 43.75
13  Denmark 16 7 9 0 699 728 96.02 28 43.75
14  Great Britain 32 14 18 0 1219 1334 91.38 56 43.75
15  Sri Lanka 5 2 3 0 153 227 67.40 8 40
16  China 21 8 13 0 490 1488 32.93 32 38.10
17  Sweden 16 6 10 0 448 1086 41.25 24 37.5
18 IsraelState of Palestine Israel-Palestinian territories 11 4 7 0 344 744 46.24 16 36.36
19  Japan 32 11 21 0 1001 1806 55.43 44 34.38
20  France 16 5 11 0 589 962 61.23 20 31.25
21  Pakistan 10 3 7 0 259 651 39.78 12 30
22  Indonesia 10 3 7 0 274 854 32.08 12 30
23  Finland 10 2 8 0 148 786 18.83 8 20
24  India 21 1 20 0 279 1831 15.24 4 4.76
25  East Timor 6 0 6 0 107 529 20.23 0 0
26  Spain 6 0 6 0 58 391 14.83 0 0
Table includes finals and has been adjusted to reflect this.

Overall tournament placings

Pos Nation Champion Runner-up Third Fourth
1st  Papua New Guinea 3 (2008, 2014, 2017) 3 (2002, 2005, 2011)
2nd  Ireland 2 (2002, 2011) 1 (2014) 1 (2017) 2 (2005, 2008)
3rd  New Zealand 1 (2005) 2 (2008, 2017) 3 (2002, 2011, 2014)
4th  United States 1 (2005) 2 (2011, 2017)
5th  South Africa 1 (2008) 1 (2014)
6th  Denmark 1 (2002)

Women's International Cup

Nation Moniker 2011 (5) 2014 (7) 2017 (8)
Australia Australia Australia Indigenous & Multicultural team (OzIM) 5th - -
Canada Canada Midnight Suns - 4th -
Canada Canada Northern Lights 2nd 1st 2nd
Europe Europe European Crusaders - - 7th
Fiji Fiji Vonu - 5th 6th
United Kingdom Great Britain Swans - - 3rd
Republic of Ireland Ireland Banshees 1st 2nd 1st
Pakistan Pakistan Shaheens - - 8th
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Flame 4th - 5th
Tonga Tonga Black Marlins - 6th -
United States United States Freedom 3rd 3rd 4th
United States United States Liberty - 7th -

Grand final and third place playoff results

Year Host Grand Final match Third Place Playoff match Number of teams
Winner Score Runner-up 3rd place Score 4th place
2011
Details
Melbourne, Sydney
Ireland
5.9 (39) - 1.2 (8)
Canada

Northern Lights

United States

Freedom
4.3 (27) - 1.2 (8)
Papua New Guinea
5
2014
Details
Melbourne
Canada

Northern Lights
5.8 (38) - 2.0 (12)
Ireland

United States

Freedom
6.8 (44) - 6.7 (43)
Canada

Midnight Suns
7
2017
Details
Melbourne
Ireland
4.1 (25) - 3.3 (21)
Canada

Northern Lights

Great Britain
5.2 (32) - 4.1 (25)
United States

Freedom
8
2020 (Cancelled) Sunshine Coast Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled
2020
Details
TBC

Overall tournament results

Sorted by winning percentage, with draws counted as half a win, half a loss, and percentage (points for/points against x 100).

Pos Nation P W L D PF PA  % PTS %W
1 Republic of Ireland Ireland 15 14 1 0 800 163 490.79 56 93.33
2 Canada Canada - Northern Lights 15 12 3 0 838 177 473.44 48 80
3 United States United States - Freedom 15 9 6 0 659 285 231.22 36 60
4 United Kingdom Great Britain 5 3 2 0 225 106 212.26 12 60
5 Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 10 4 6 0 343 290 118.27 16 40
6 Fiji Fiji 10 4 6 0 302 306 98.69 16 40
7 Canada Canada - Midnight Suns 5 2 3 0 87 281 30.96 8 40
8 Europe European Crusaders (see European Crusaders) 5 1 4 0 65 336 19.34 4 20
9 Tonga Tonga 5 0 5 0 32 312 10.25 0 0
10 United States United States - Liberty 4 0 4 0 22 277 7.94 0 0
11 Australia Australia 4 0 4 0 20 288 6.94 0 0
12 Pakistan Pakistan 5 0 5 0 6 736 0.81 0 0
^ Table includes finals and has been adjusted to reflect this.

Overall tournament placings

Pos Nation Champion Runner-up Third Fourth
1st Republic of Ireland Ireland 2 (2011, 2017) 1 (2014)
2nd Canada Canada - Northern Lights 1 (2014) 2 (2011, 2017)
3rd United States United States - Freedom 2 (2011, 2014) 1 (2017)
4th United Kingdom Great Britain 1 (2017)
5th Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 1 (2011)
Canada Canada - Midnight Suns 1 (2014)

Men's Division 2 results

Since the 2011 Australian Football International Cup the Men's competition has been split into two Divisions, with the format differing from each past edition. In 2011 and 2014, the divisional lineup was decided by a preliminary competition that involved all eighteen teams. In 2017, the divisions were pre determined prior to the tournament, with ten teams playing in Division 1 and eight playing in Division 2.

In 2014, Division Two was decided by ladder position.

Grand final and third place playoff results

Year Host Grand Final match Third Place Playoff match Number of teams
Winner Score Runner-up 3rd place Score 4th place
2011
Details
Melbourne, Sydney
Fiji
9.8 (62) - 3.3 (21)
France
IsraelState of Palestine
Peres Team for Peace
7.15 (57) - 2.8 (20)
India
6
(of 18)
2014
Details
Melbourne
Sweden
N/A
Japan

China
N/A
Finland
6
(of 18)
2017
Details
Melbourne
Croatia
11.8 (74) - 1.2 (8)
Germany

China
4.8 (32) - 3.5 (23)
Japan
8
(of 18)

Overall tournament placings

Pos Nation  Gold  Silver  Bronze Fourth
1st  Fiji 1 (2011)
 Sweden 1 (2014)
 Croatia 1 (2017)
4th  Japan 1 (2014) 1 (2017)
5th  France 1 (2011)
 Germany 1 (2017)
7th  China 2 (2014, 2017)
8th IsraelState of Palestine Peres Team for Peace 1 (2011)
9th  India 1 (2011)
 Finland 1 (2014)

Eligibility

The tournament is geared towards development of the sport outside Australia and as such eligibility rules are much more strict than those of other international football competitions. Generally speaking players must be a citizen of the country they represent and have lived there through roughly middle school and high school ages (so that is usually where they learned to play). IC criteria ensures that expatriate Australians, Australians with overseas ancestry and those who moved to Australia at a young age are ineligible to compete (with the exception of the women's OzIM team, which is composed of indigenous and multicultural Australians). These rules, combined with professional contracts and limited pathways for players typically precludes professional players from participating and players wishing to participate must negotiate their own release from their AFL/AFLW contracts before nominating. In addition there is a per team cap on players registered with Australian clubs which countries teams from stacking their teams with talent developed in Australia. This limit was initially set to 12, however with the increasing number of international players participating in Australian competitions and an increasing number of players learning the game outside Australia, this was later reduced to 8.

Participating AFL/AFLW listed players

No senior AFL players on contracts have been released to play in the International Cup due to risk of injury. However clubs will sometimes make exclusions to allow the participation of lower paid rookies, international scholarship players and AFL Women's players in the amateur tournament.

Currently on a club list
Player AFL/AFLW club International Team Tournament/s played in while contracted
Barclay Miller St Kilda FC New Zealand 2017
Joe Baker-Thomas St Kilda FC New Zealand 2017
Kendra Heil Collingwood FC Canada (women's) 2017
Laura Duryea Melbourne FC Ireland (women's) 2017
Gideon Simon Richmond FC Papua New Guinea 2014
Yoshi Harris GWS Giants Nauru 2011
Theo Gavuri GWS Giants Papua New Guinea 2011
Charlton Brown GWS Giants New Zealand 2011

Excluded AFL/AFLW players

Players who nominated but were excluded from selection by either their contracted club or the AFL.

Currently on a club list
Player AFL/AFLW club/s International Team Nominated tournament/s Reasons
Brad Moran Adelaide FC Great Britain 2008 Rugby convert, eligible but excluded due to country's home grown policy.[26]
Mal Michael Brisbane Lions / Essendon FC Papua New Guinea 2002/2005/2008 Excluded due to moving to Australia at too young an age
Aaron Edwards West Coast Eagles / North Melbourne FC Samoa 2005/2008 Excluded due to moving to Australia at too young an age

Non-nominating AFL/AFLW players

This list covers players who have registered matches for a club in the senior AFL competition and were eligible under IC criteria at the time but didn't nominate. Only Irish players from gaelic games (see the Irish Experiment) that played senior AFL matches are included, the AFL and Gaelic Athletic Association encourages Irish players to nominate for the International Rules Series and play the hybrid International Rules Football code (the Irish International Rules team is also strictly amateur). The AFL has the power to veto contracted players from participating in some circumstances (such as if it deems player participation not to be in the best interest of the competition, such as giving nations an unreasonable advantage).[27]

Currently on a club list
Player AFL/AFLW club/s International Team Eligible tournament/s
Mason Cox Collingwood FC USA 2017
Jason Holmes St Kilda FC USA 2017
Mark O'Connor Geelong FC Ireland 2017
Darragh Joyce St Kilda FC Ireland 2017
Colin O'Riordan Sydney Swans Ireland 2017
Conor McKenna Essendon FC Ireland 2017
Conor Nash Hawthorn FC Ireland 2017
Conor Glass Hawthorn FC Ireland 2017
Kurt Heatherley Hawthorn FC New Zealand 2014/2017
Mike Pyke Sydney Swans Canada 2011/2014
Zach Tuohy Carlton FC/Geelong FC Ireland[a] 2011/2014/2017
Tommy Walsh Sydney Swans Ireland[a] 2011/2014
Niall McKeever Brisbane Lions Ireland 2011
Pearce Hanley Brisbane Lions Ireland[a] 2008/2011/2014/2017
Martin Clarke Collingwood FC Ireland 2008/2014
Adam Campbell Fremantle FC New Zealand 2008
Setanta Ó hAilpín Carlton FC Ireland[a] 2005/2008/2011
Tadhg Kennelly Sydney Swans Ireland[a] 2002/2005/2008/2011
  1. ^ a b c d e Represented Ireland in International Rules Series (International Rules Football) instead

Individual honours

Mike Finn of Ireland, one of the tournament's most decorated players
Mike Finn of Ireland, one of the tournament's most decorated players

Best And Fairest

Tournament best and fairests have been named since 2005. In addition, each nation typically nominates their best and fairest player.

Year Best & Fairest Nation
2002
2005 James Bowden New Zealand New Zealand
2008 Mike Finn Republic of Ireland Ireland
2011
2014
2017

World team honours

A World (formerly All-International) Team is selected from the best players (similarly to the All-Australian Team selection in the AFL). Prior to 2008, field positions and captaincy positions were not nominated. The following players have been nominated more than twice.

Player Nation World Team Caps Years Captaincies
Mike Finn Republic of Ireland Ireland 4 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 2 (2011, 2014)
John Ikupu Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 3 2011, 2014, 2017
Michito Sakaki Japan Japan 3 2005, 2008, 2017
Fia Tootoo Samoa Samoa 3 2002, 2005, 2008
Tshoboko Moagi South Africa South Africa 3 2011, 2014, 2017

Broadcasting and audience

The IC has maintained a low media profile for more than two decades.

Attendance

Apart from the Grand Final which is played as a curtain raiser, matches not scheduled for stadiums are free entry and are generally played midday and mid-week prohibiting it as a spectator event, though some regional matches have been played on weekends. As such, only two regional matches have attracted a significant attendance: 5,000 attended Japan vs South Africa in 2005 at City Oval in Wangaratta and 3,500 attended Papua New Guinea vs South Africa at Reid Oval in Warrnambool[28]

Broadcast media

The 2002 tournament was video recorded and posted on the IAFC website though there were no live broadcasts. The United States Australian Football League also provided video coverage and recorded a documentatary on its participation. In 2005 tournament attracted some coverage from Fox Sports including a Grand Final replay on Fox Sports (Australia) and the Fox Footy Channel, though matches were not broadcast. Some community radio and television stations in Victoria also provided limited coverage and World Footy News provided score updates. The AFL began posting videos of the 2008 tournament on its website along with editorial posts after the matches were played. The AFL failed to secure a broadcast partner for the 2011 tournament, instead adding delayed highlights to their online video service. For the 2014 tournament the AFL included live streaming for the first time and the tournament attracted media interest from outside Australia. For the 2017 tournament the AFL partnered with Internet service YouTube to provide live streaming of the three rounds held at Royal Park and the two Grand Finals. The USAFL, AFL Canada, World Footy News, and the Eastern Football League provided supplementary coverage of the school and community rounds.

IC coverage was not included in the AFL's record breaking 2.5 billion broadcasting deal in 2015[29] or contract negotiations in 2019 for the 2020 extension, though Kayo will stream AFLW matches.[30] There were efforts to help raise the event's profile by broadcasting the 2017 International Cup on SBS, an organisation devoted to multicultural, multi-lingual entertainment, but this did not materialize [31]

Hosts

The inaugural IAFC tournament was held in the game's spiritual home of Melbourne, with some games at suburban stadiums around the city.

Showgrounds at Wangaratta, the event's first co-host city which has held the record match attendance since 2005
Showgrounds at Wangaratta, the event's first co-host city which has held the record match attendance since 2005

With the AFL headquartered in Melbourne, all events have been hosted in Victoria, Australia with regional matches in Warrnambool (2008), Wangaratta (2005), the exception being matches scheduled for Sydney, New South Wales in 2011. The West Australian Football League expressed an interest in bidding for the 2008 cup to go to Perth, Western Australia[32] however the AFL did not open up hosting to bidders and the tournament was held in Victoria instead.

The cancelled 2020 tournament was the first time in the history of the event that the AFL opened up to bidders as part of a closed bidding process. Among newly introduced criteria was that the grounds must meet the AFL's Preferred Facility Guidelines at Regional level to qualify.[33] These include requirements for the ground dimensions and surface, staff facilities, lighting and accessibility. The guidelines are mainly aimed at providing AFL staff with maximum amenity, there are no requirements for spectator seating, viewing mounds and a covered area under which spectators can stand are deemed sufficient for calculating ground capacity.[33] The guidelines, combined with the requirement to have at least two main fields meeting this requirement in close proximity, has significantly raised the barrier to entry for hosting the tournament.

The result was selection between two bids, a Ballarat, Victoria bid to hold matches at the Eureka Stadium precinct and adjoining ovals North Oval No.2 (which underwent a total $38.5 million in upgrades to meet AFL standard criteria from 2016-2020) and a Sunshine Coast, Queensland bid backed by the Queensland government in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland and Sunshine Coast Council to hold matches at the Maroochydore Multi Sports Complex (which underwent a total $5.8 million in upgrades to meet the AFL standard criteria in 2019-2020).[34]

Maroochydore Multi Sports Complex, at Maroochydore proposed AFL standard host venue for the winning bid for the (cancelled) 2020 tournament
Maroochydore Multi Sports Complex, at Maroochydore proposed AFL standard host venue for the winning bid for the (cancelled) 2020 tournament

At the end of 2019, the AFL announced that it had selected the Sunshine Coast bid which would have seen the event hosted outside of Melbourne and Victoria for the first time (not counting the 2011 event which saw some secondary matches played in Western Sydney). As part of the Queensland bid, the Grand Finals would be played at the Brisbane Cricket Ground as a curtain raiser to a Brisbane Lions AFL premiership match.[35] Queensland remained the successful bidder when the tournament was postponed until 2021. However following the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, no announcement was made as to whether the Queensland bid would be retained. On 22 April 2022, the AFL announced it would be continuing discussions with the winning Sunshine Coast bid.[3]

Popular culture

The AFL (video game series) by Melbourne game developer Wicked Witch Software has featured selectable teams, including player names, from the IC. In particular, AFL Evolution and AFL Evolution 2 let players play the entire IC17 tournament but at AFL standard stadiums from around Australia.[36]

Pathway to Professional AFL and Semi-Professional leagues in Australia

The IC has been a development pathway for several players who have been rookie listed or received an international scholarship with professional AFL clubs or clubs from semi-professional competitions throughout Australia. While no IC player has yet to debut for a senior men's AFL club, Laura Corrigan was recruited to the AFLW following a 2011 appearance for Ireland.

IC's potential as a pathway was first promoted by Kevin Sheedy while coaching at the Essendon Football Club, following the 2005 cup he invited Japanese IC players Michito Sakaki and Tsuyoshi Kase to train and play with the club's pre-season team. Though Essendon did not recruit Sakaki, he received an invitation to AFL Draft Camp and the exposure was a catalyst for the Wodonga Raiders club contracting him to play semi-professionally in the strong Ovens & Murray league in 2006.[37]

For older international players, the IC is one of the only options for players other than moving to Australia and moving up the semi-professional competition pathway, to be noticed by recruiters and rookie listed to the AFL or AFLW. Unlike the AFL International Combine open-aged pathway, the IC is accessible to amateurs from a much broader international area and tests their gameplay and game sense, rather than just their athletic attributes.

For underaged international players the IC provides an alternative pathway and the opportunity to prove their ability to compete at a high senior level. Currently only New Zealand competes against the AFL Academy (Australia's best junior players) (though South Africa and Ireland have in the past). The Under 16 and AFL U18/U19 Championships, AFL Women's Under 18 Championships and AFL Draft held in Australia and the Pacific Nations Youth tournament do not provide the opportunity to test players ability against fully developed players, and provide limited opportunities for youth not willing to relocate to Oceania.

Since the first IC has been a major pathway for Papua New Guineans to play professionally (even with affiliations to Queensland in the National Championships). IC players from PNG finding their way to AFL clubs have included Amua Pirika, Hewago Oea (both debuted for Papua New Guinea at just 17 years of age) and Stanis Susuve at the Gold Coast, Theo Gavuri at the GWS Giants and John James Lavai, Brendan Beno and David Meli at the Brisbane Lions.

IC players from other countries to have been recruited to play professionally include Joe Baker-Thomas (New Zealand) at St Kilda Football Club, Yoshi Harris (Nauru) at GWS Giants, and Kendra Heil (Canada) at Collingwood. All of these players were rookie listed shortly following outstanding performances in an IC tournament.

See also

References

  1. ^ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVNIihETzsAGXnyN0pnJHDA AFL International Cup (Live and on-demand coverage from the 2017 AFL International Cup held in Melbourne, Australia.)
  2. ^ AFL Statement - 2021 AFL International Cup Cancellation viewed 16-09-2021
  3. ^ a b c d e AFL postpones International Cup to 2024 from AFL.com.au
  4. ^ AFL Annual Report 2017
  5. ^ Against the odds, oval ball bounces into Europe from The Age October 25, 2009
  6. ^ Fanfare over International Cup fails to mask AFL's deeply insular world view Antoun Issa from the Guardian 2 Aug 2017
  7. ^ AFL's chance to take on rugby at Brisbane Olympics from InDaily Jul 30, 2021
  8. ^ "AFL International Cup History". Australian Football League. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2012. The third International Cup hosted Papua New Guinea, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nauru, Samoa, South Africa, Sweden, United States and an unprecedented Peres Peace Team combining Israeli and Palestinian players.
  9. ^ a b Thompson, Troy (2 December 2010). "IC11 dates and locations confirmed". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. The AFL have now stated that Melbourne and Sydney are locked in, but there will be no Queensland matches.
  10. ^ "About AFL International Cup". Australian Football League. Archived from the original on 26 July 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2012. This year, 18 men's teams will compete for the title with Tonga, France Fiji and Timor-Leste (East Timor) all joining for the first time.
  11. ^ "Women's Teams". Aussie Rules International. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 2011 sees the inaugural Women's International Cup in Australian Football.
  12. ^ "About AFL International Cup". Australian Football League. Archived from the original on 26 July 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2012. In addition, 2011 sees the introduction of a women's tournament with five competing countries: Canada, PNG, Ireland, USA and a combined Indigenous/Multicultural team from Australia.
  13. ^ afl.com.au
  14. ^ 2020 AFL International Cup update Troy Thompson for World Footy News August 28, 2019
  15. ^ Thompson, Troy (25 August 2021). "AFL Confirms Commitment to 2023 International Cup". WorldFootyNews.com.
  16. ^ http://www.aflnz.co.nz
  17. ^ http://www.worldfootynews.com/index.php?topic=IC2005 2005 withdraws
  18. ^ http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/20080519131052904 2008 possible teams
  19. ^ Northey, Brett (16 November 2004). "International Cup 2002 in Review". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. It has been two years since the inaugural International Cup, held in Melbourne.
  20. ^ Northey, Brett (16 November 2004). "International Cup 2002 in Review". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. In a tough contest, the Green Machine, as they were dubbed by the Australian media, shut down the Papuans. There are numerous opinions on how the Irish came to defeat such a fancied opponent.
  21. ^ Northey, Brett (23 April 2005). "International Cup venues released". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. As reported earlier, the grand final is to be played at the MCG, and the series also includes a round of matches at a country venue, Wangaratta, about northeast of Melbourne.
  22. ^ Richard, Aaron (13 August 2005). "New Zealand take the Cup". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. New Zealand held off Papua New Guinea to win the 2005 Australian Football International Cup this evening, running out 7.8.50 to 5.2.32 winners.
  23. ^ Nugent, Ash (27 November 2007). "Warrnambool to co-host 2008 International Cup". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. The AFL today announced that Warrnambool will join Melbourne as the host of the 2008 International Cup.
  24. ^ Northey, Brett (6 September 2008). "Mozzies at last in MCG thriller". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. Papua New Guinea's Mosquitoes have finally broken through to win the International Cup at the MCG after twice being runners-up. It was magnificent come from behind win against quality opposition, the New Zealand Falcons, in a high quality match.
  25. ^ Richard, Aaron (27 August 2011). "IC11 Men's Div 1 Grand Final - Ireland's Double Glory". World Footy News. Retrieved 25 May 2012. Ireland have come back from a 28-point deficit midway through the second term to defeat the PNG Mosquitoes by 18 points today, in a match that saw the Warriors become the first nation to win two International Cups, as well as the first nation to win the Men's and Women's International Cups in the same year.
  26. ^ Brits stick to home grown talent
  27. ^ AFL and Countries ponder eligibility rules
  28. ^ WORLD BEATER: Rave reviews for city's International Cup role The Standard
  29. ^ AFL announces record-breaking $2.5 billion television deal, pledges to establish code as Australia's foremost
  30. ^ AFL TV deal provides some certainty in troubled times
  31. ^ afl.com.au ABOUT THE 2017 AFL INTERNATIONAL CUP
  32. ^ World Cup For Perth Aug 28 Digby Beacham, Sunday Times, Perth
  33. ^ a b AFL PREFERRED FACILITY GUIDELINES
  34. ^ Maroochydore Multi Sports Complex Named Home Ground For AFLW’S Brisbane Lions AusLeisure November 19, 2021
  35. ^ 2020 AFL International Cup heads to Sunshine Coast
  36. ^ AFL Evolution Video game announced for 2017 World Footy News. Troy Thompson December 15, 2016
  37. ^ Japan's Michito wows the bush By Geoff McClure for The Age March 22, 2006