|Current season, competition or edition:|
2023 Coates Talent League season
|Formerly||TAC Cup (1992–2018)|
NAB League (2019–2022)
|Sport||Australian rules football|
|Inaugural season||10 April 1992.|
|No. of teams||13|
|Sandringham Dragons (4)|
|Most titles||Calder Cannons (6)|
The Talent League (also known as the Coates Talent League under naming rights and previously as the NAB League and TAC Cup) is an under-19 Australian rules football representative competition held in Australia. It is based on geographic regions throughout country Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne with each team representing one of twelve Victorian regions, while a thirteenth team from Tasmania was reintroduced in 2019.
The competition is one of the primary sources of recruitment for the clubs of the Australian Football League (AFL), and it provides an opportunity for talented regional players to participate in a high standard competition without having to relocate too far from their place of origin. The competition has a very successful pathway with players missing AFL selection often being recruited by semi-professional state, country and regional leagues throughout Australia. An equivalent competition for female footballers, known as the Talent League Girls, is also contested on an annual basis.
The league was known as the TAC Cup until 2018, the NAB League in 2019 to 2022, and since 2023 it has been known as the Coates Talent League.
With the focus of the VFL/AFL moving rapidly towards a national competition, the former metropolitan and country zoning recruitment system for the Victorian VFL/AFL clubs was abolished, and the league's under-19 competition was shut down at the end of 1991.
A new competition, administered by the Victorian State Football League and sponsored by the Transport Accident Commission, was formed as an avenue for young Victorian under-18 players to make the transition to becoming senior League players. It commenced play in 1992, the competition consisted of five metropolitan teams and one country team: the Northern Knights, Eastern Ranges, Southern Stingrays (renamed the Dandenong Stingrays in 1995), Western Jets, Central Dragons (renamed the Prahran Dragons in 1995, then the Sandringham Dragons in 2000) and Geelong Falcons.
In 1993 an additional four country teams were included – the Murray Bushrangers, Bendigo Pioneers, Gippsland Power and Ballarat Rebels (renamed the North Ballarat Rebels in 1996, then the Greater Western Victoria Rebels in 2017). In 1995 two additional metropolitan regions were established, with the Oakleigh Chargers and Calder Cannons teams included in the competition.
In 1995, a Tasmanian-based team, the Tassie Mariners, commenced in the competition, becoming the league's first non-Victorian side. The following year, the NSW/ACT Rams were admitted. The Mariners and Rams both exited the competition as full-time members at the end of the 2002, returning the competition to twelve teams.
The Gold Coast Football Club recruited several under-18s players in the 2008/09 summer, and participated in the TAC Cup in 2009 (before playing in the VFL in 2010 and the AFL from 2011). Similarly, the Greater Western Sydney Giants fielded a TAC Cup team in 2010, two seasons prior to its introduction to the AFL in 2012.
Four interstate teams — the Tassie Mariners, NSW/ACT Rams, Queensland Scorpions and the Northern Territory Thunder — each play a handful of games each year against TAC Cup teams, particularly in the lead-up to the annual AFL Under 18 Championships; these games are counted as part of the TAC Cup premiership season, but the interstate clubs are not eligible for the premiership.
Between 1995 and 2008, the finals system was in a knock-out format. This reverted to a traditional finals system in 2009 with the introduction of the Gold Coast team. In 2010, this was extended to include 12 of the 13 clubs participating that season, with the extra matches forming an extended knockout format. In 2011 the finals system was reverted to the traditional eight-team AFL finals series. Prior to the 2014 season, the NSW/ACT Rams was reestablished as a TAC Cup team, with players from the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants young academy sides being picked for the NSW/ACT team.
From 2019, the newly named NAB League introduced six new teams: the AFL Academy sides of Gold Coast, GWS Giants, Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions; the Northern Territory; and the returning Tassie Mariners, who were later renamed the Tasmania Devils. Additionally, teams were able to include more 19-year-olds – previously only three could be selected. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2021 the competition fully transitioned from under-18s to under-19s – although the draft age to senior football remained at 18. Since 2023 the league has been primarily by under-18 players, with a selection of under-19 players also listed.
For many years the league was primarily a competition for 18-year-olds, though exceptions were made for bottom-aged players—16- or 17-year-olds—and since 2007, over-age players—19-year-olds—to participate in the competition. In 2021 the league shifted to an under-19 level, though the entry age for the AFL Draft remains 18.
Since the beginning of the 2007 TAC Cup season, clubs have been granted permission to select up to five over-age players permitted on their lists.
Nonetheless, age eligibility requirements remain for the AFL Draft, where players must have turned seventeen years of age by 30 April of that draft year to be eligible for selection by an AFL club.
The Morrish Medal is awarded to the best player in the competition each year. The same medal was previously awarded to the best player in the Victorian Football League Thirds/Under-19s competition, which the TAC Cup superseded.
The TAC Cup Coaches Award is voted on by both coaches in a 5–4–3–2–1 format at the end of each game. At the end of the 2015 season, the award was discontinued.
|2015||Jade Gresham||Northern Knights|
|2014||Oscar McDonald||North Ballarat Rebels|
|2013||Louis Herbert||North Ballarat Rebels|
|2012||Jake Lloyd||North Ballarat Rebels|
|2011||Shaun Marusic||Gippsland Power|
|2010||Adam Marcon||Northern Knights|
|2009||Anton Woods||Northern Knights|
|2008||Rory Sloane||Eastern Ranges|
|2007||Matthew Kreuzer||Northern Knights|
|2006||Andrew Horne||Calder Cannons|
|2005||Richard Douglas||Calder Cannons|
|2004||Adam Pattison||Northern Knights|
|2003||Colin Sylvia||Bendigo Pioneers|
|2002||Blake Grima||Eastern Ranges|
|2000||Paul Carson||Western Jets|
|1999||Leigh Brown||Gippsland Power|
|1998||Stephen Hazleman||Gippsland Power|
|1997||Matthew Bernes||Tassie Mariners|
|1996||Tim Finocchiaro||Eastern Ranges|
|1995||Jason Snell||Eastern Ranges|
|1994||Jason McFarlane||Gippsland Power|
|1993||Angelo Lekkas||Northern Knights|
|1992||Brad Smith||Northern Knights|
All matches are live streamed on the AFL app.
Former coverage included:
|Colours||Team||Region(s)||Seasons||Premierships||Home ground||Training ground|
|1993–present||0||Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo||Golden Square Football Oval|
|Calder Cannons||North Western Melbourne,
|1995–present||6 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010)||Highgate Recreation Reserve, Craigieburn||Highgate Recreation Reserve|
|Dandenong Stingrays||South Eastern Melbourne,
|1992–present||1 (2018)||Shepley Oval, Dandenong||Shepley Oval|
|Eastern Ranges||Eastern Melbourne||1992–present||2 (2002, 2013)||Box Hill City Oval||Kilsyth Recreation Reserve|
|1992–present||3 (1992, 2000, 2017)||Chirnside Park,
Kardinia Park (Stadium)
|Gippsland Power||Gippsland||1993–present||1 (2005)||Morwell Recreation Reserve, Morwell||Morwell Recreation Reserve|
|Greater Western Victoria Rebels||Ballarat,
|1993–present||1 (1997)||Eureka Stadium, North Ballarat||Eureka Stadium|
|Murray Bushrangers||Goulburn Valley,
North Eastern Victoria
|1993–present||2 (1998, 2008)||WJ Findlay Oval, Wangaratta
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta
Lavington Sports Ground, Albury
Albury Sports Ground, Albury
Deakin Reserve, Shepparton
|Norm Minns Oval|
|Northern Knights||Northern Melbourne,
North Eastern Melbourne
|1992–present||4 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)||Preston City Oval||Preston City Oval,|
La Trobe University
|Oakleigh Chargers||South Eastern Melbourne,
Inner Eastern Melbourne,
|1995–present||5 (2006, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2019)||Warrawee Park, Oakleigh||Warrawee Park|
|Sandringham Dragons||Bayside Melbourne,
Inner South East Melbourne
|1992–present||4 (1999, 2011, 2016, 2022)||Trevor Barker Beach Oval||RSEA Park,|
|Western Jets||Western Melbourne,
|1992–present||0||Burbank Oval||W.L.J. Crofts Reserve, Altona|
Brookside Oval, Caroline Springs
|Brisbane Lions Academy||Brisbane region, Sunshine Coast, Darling Downs, Wide Bay-Burnett, Outback Queensland||2019-||0||Brisbane Cricket Ground|
|Gold Coast Suns Academy||Gold Coast region,
Northern Rivers region (NSW)
|2009; 2019-||0||Metricon Stadium|
|Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy||Greater Western Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Canberra and the ACT, Broken Hill and western New South Wales, Albury, Riverina, Sunraysia and southern New South Wales||2010, 2019-||0||Spotless Stadium||Tom Wills Oval|
|Sydney Swans Academy||Central Sydney, Southern Sydney, North Shore and Northern Beaches, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, New England, Wollongong and the Illawarra region||2019-||0||Sydney Cricket Ground|
Nine of the 12 Victorian-based NAB League clubs are affiliated with a heritage VFA/VFL club. This allows for a natural development pathway between under-18s football and state-level senior football; and top age players are permitted to play senior games under the VFL's 23rd man rule:
|1992||Geelong Falcons||18.16 (124) – 12.10 (82)||Western Jets||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Daniel Fletcher|
|1993||Northern Knights||32.10 (202) – 18.11 (119)||Western Jets||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Shannon Gibson|
|1994||Northern Knights||16.21 (117) – 15.17 (107)||Geelong Falcons||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Anthony Rocca|
|1995||Northern Knights||12.20 (92) – 7.21 (63)||Eastern Ranges||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Brent Harvey|
|1996||Northern Knights||15.15 (105) – 14.6 (90)||NSW/ACT Rams||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Matthew Harrison|
|1997||North Ballarat Rebels||16.15 (111) – 10.16 (76)||Dandenong Stingrays||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Adam Goodes|
|1998||Murray Bushrangers||17.18 (120) – 12.12 (84)||Geelong Falcons||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Michael Stevens|
|1999||Sandringham Dragons||16.8 (104) – 8.6 (54)||Gippsland Power||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Dylan Smith|
|2000||Geelong Falcons||18.16 (124) – 15.12 (102)||Eastern Ranges||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Amon Buchanan|
|2001||Calder Cannons||16.14 (110) – 10.13 (73)||Bendigo Pioneers||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Jordan Barham|
|2002||Eastern Ranges||10.5 (65) – 9.10 (64)||Calder Cannons||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Stephen Dinnell|
|2003||Calder Cannons||16.14 (110) – 2.6 (18)||Murray Bushrangers||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Brock McLean|
|2004||Calder Cannons||19.20 (134) – 9.10 (64)||Eastern Ranges||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Jesse D. Smith|
|2005||Gippsland Power||12.9 (81) – 10.6 (66)||Dandenong Stingrays||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Dale Thomas|
|2006||Oakleigh Chargers||19.16 (130) – 16.7 (103)||Calder Cannons||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Dean Kelly|
|2007||Calder Cannons||14.20 (104) – 7.12 (54)||Murray Bushrangers||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Ashley Arrowsmith|
|2008||Murray Bushrangers||21.16 (142) – 9.7 (61)||Dandenong Stingrays||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Steele Sidebottom|
|2009||Calder Cannons||17.10 (112) – 14.14 (98)||Dandenong Stingrays||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Jake Melksham|
|2010||Calder Cannons||17.14 (116) – 8.10 (58)||Gippsland Power||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Mitch Wallis|
|2011||Sandringham Dragons||17.11 (113) – 16.9 (105)||Oakleigh Chargers||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Jack Viney|
|2012||Oakleigh Chargers||12.10 (82) – 12.9 (81)||Gippsland Power||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Jackson Macrae|
|2013||Eastern Ranges||24.8 (152) – 5.10 (40)||Dandenong Stingrays||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Ben Cavarra|
|2014||Oakleigh Chargers||17.15 (117) – 11.4 (70)||Calder Cannons||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Toby McLean|
|2015||Oakleigh Chargers||10.13 (73) – 9.7 (61)||Eastern Ranges||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Kade Answerth|
|2016||Sandringham Dragons||12.13 (85) – 9.14 (68)||Murray Bushrangers||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Andrew McGrath|
|2017||Geelong Falcons||13.11 (89) – 13.9 (87)||Sandringham Dragons||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Gryan Miers|
|2018||Dandenong Stingrays||12.8 (80) - 11.8 (74)||Oakleigh Chargers||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Matthew Rowell|
|2019||Oakleigh Chargers||12.17 (89) - 5.6 (36)||Eastern Ranges||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Matthew Rowell|
|2020||No premiership awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic|
|2021||No premiership awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic|
|2022||Sandringham Dragons||14.10 (94) – 7.9 (51)||Dandenong Stingrays||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Will Ashcroft|
NSW/ACT Rams, as of 2015, do not play a full season, and therefore cannot compete for the premiership.
Main article: NAB League Girls
A female youth competition, equivalent to the NAB League, was inaugurated in 2017.
((cite web)): External link in
As part of the new model, age groups for all AFL Talent Pathway Programs, including the NAB League Girls and Boys and the NAB AFL / AFLW National Championships, will be re-focussed from U16 and U18 Levels to U17 and U19 in 2021.