Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Singapore Wombats claim the 2011 Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.

While most eyes were on the 2011 International Cup in August, another highly prestigious Aussie Rules tournament was being fought out in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Asian Championships is a gruelling one day event that saw eleven expat dominated teams from all over Asia stake their claim to the region’s most coveted footy trophy. All teams battled fiercely throughout the preliminary matches in an attempt to qualify for the semi-finals and what would be a shot at the cup. After the dust had settled on a hectic morning of non-stop football, one that included four games for most, the race to glory had been narrowed down to just four.

The Singapore Wombats, Jakarta Bintangs and Hong Kong Dragons all entered the semi-finals undefeated with the Vietnam Swans completing the quartet of finalists. Jakarta drew Hong Kong in the first semi-final and although the Bintangs started strongly the Dragons eventually ran over the top maintaining their unbeaten streak en route to a place in the Grand Final.

In semi-final number two the Singapore Wombats showed no mercy thumping the Vietnam Swans 70 to nil. It set up what would be an epic showdown between two countries that collectively owned 7 of all 12 Asian Championship crowns.

The Grand Final lived up to expectations with Singapore edging out a narrow early lead over the inaccurate Dragons to head into the main break 17 points clear in what was clearly a ripping contest. The game delicately poised it would be a late goal to Singapore that would eventually break the Dragons spirit and put the game beyond doubt, the Wombats clinching a record breaking fifth Asian Champs crown with a hard fought out 23 point victory.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

IC11 Peace Team v China Red Demons Q1

This footage from IC11 shows the first quarter of the Peace Team taking on the China Red Demons in the Division 2 Pool stages. The footage was filmed as part of France's (Les Coqs) preparation for their match against the Peace Team in which the winner would advance to the Division 2 Grand Final.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 Australian Football Power Rankings

Ireland claim the Women's IC11

The 2011 Australian Football International Cup has been run and won and along with three new cup winners there is a new order of world rankings. World Footy News has released their official WFN Rankings but the list below is a more up-to-date “Power Ranking” system that gives greater weight to the IC results factoring in recent results for teams not in attendance.

For the record the Ireland Warriors won their second International Cup, the Ireland Banshees won the inaugural Women's Division Cup and Fiji Tribe made their debut one to remember taking out the Division 2 Cup.

Men’s Current Power Rankings as at the end of IC11

1. Australia (IC11 Finish N/A - WFN Rank 1)
2. Ireland Warriors (IC11 Finish 1 - WFN Rank 2)
3. Papua New Guinea Mosquitos (IC11 Finish 2 - WFN Rank 3)
4. New Zealand Hawks (IC11 Finish 3 - WFN Rank 4)
5. United States Revoultion (IC11 Finish 4 - WFN Rank 7)
6. South Africa Lions (IC11 Finish 5 – WFN Rank 5)
7. Nauru Chiefs (IC11 Finish 6 – WFN Rank 6)
8. Great Britian Bulldogs (IC11 Finish 7 – WFN Rank 9)
9. Denmark Vikings (IC11 Finish 8 – WFN Rank 14)
10. Tonga Tigers (IC11 Finish 9 – WFN Rank 8)
11. Canada Northwind (IC 11 Finish 10 – WFN Rank 11)
12. Sweden Elks (IC11 Finish 11 – WFN Rank 12)
13. Samoa Kangaroos (IC11 Finish N/A – WFN Rank 10)
14. Japan Samurais (IC11 Finish 12 – WFN Rank 17)
15. Fiji Tribe (IC Finish 13 – WFN Rank N/A)
16. Croatia (IC11 Finish N/A - WFN Rank N/A)
17. Germany Black Eagles (IC11 Finish N/A – WFN Rank 13)
18. France Les Coqs (IC11 Finish 14 – WFN Rank N/A)
19. Iceland (IC11 Finish N/A - WFN Rank N/A)
20. Peace Team (IC11 Finish 15 – WFN Rank 15)
21. India Tigers (IC11 Finish 16 – WFN Rank 19)
22. Finland Icebreakers (IC11 Finish N/A – WFN Rank 18)
23. China Red Demons (IC11 Finish 17 – WFN Rank 16)
24. East Timor Crocs (IC11 Finish 18 – WFN Rank N/A)

Women’s current Power Rankings as at the end of IC11.

1. Australia (IC11 N/A - WFN Rank N/A)
2. Ireland Banshees (IC11 Finish 1 – WFN Rank N/A)
3. Canada Northern Lights (IC11 Finish 2 – WFN Rank N/A)
4. USA Revolution (IC11 Finish 3 – WFN Rank N/A)
5. Papua New Guinea Flame (IC11 Finish 4 - WFN Rank N/A)
6. Italy (IC11 Finish – WFN Rank N/A)

*Apologies to any team that was not listed, without sufficient information a ranking was not given. WFN current Ranking system only has 19 teams ranked. As more info comes in teams will be added to the list.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

IC2011 Aussie Rules finalists confirmed

PNG will take on Ireland in the Men's Division 1 final while Canada will battle it out against Ireland in the first ever women's cup final. In division 2 France and Fiji will be looking to finish their first campaigns on a high by collecting some silverware of their own.

USA and New Zealand will go head to head in the final for 3rd place.

The Men's split division concept has received a welcomed tick of approval with early suggestions that an increase in teams in 2014 may lead to a three tier format.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Irish "Planted-Player" strategy will give Warriors edge

Canada v Ireland IC2008.
The fourth instalment of the International Cup of Australian Rules football will proclaim a new (or renewed) champion on August 27th, but rest assured the team hoisting the cup aloft at the hallowed MCG won’t be the only country leaving IC2011 as winners.

It is fitting that now, ten years since the inaugural cup, a little bit of tournament history is adding a spicy new flavour to the mix. Controversial rankings, simmering rivalries and long overdue retribution are but a few of the items on the menu.

The head to head grudge matches are aplenty. Ireland has battled South Africa in every cup taking the honours on nearly every occasion, but the one point loss in the third place final in IC2008 will have left a sour taste in the mouths of the Irish Warriors, a team expecting nothing short of ultimate glory this time around. In contrast, arch-enemies Canada and the United States have only met once on Australian soil, a thumping U.S win way back in 2002. Although the Canadians finally finished higher than the U.S Revolution in the final rankings in ‘08, two sound defeats for the Northwind in the past two annual 49th Parallel Cup matches between the two nations mean the U.S have wrestled back the favourites tag. The two teams square off on day one of the tournament.

Perhaps the most high stakes rivalry of the cup lies with the countries at the very top; Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. PNG have made every cup final battling it out with New Zealand in the previous two. The ledger currently sits at one cup all, and debate is divided on which country has been the better over the ten year journey. IC2011 will finally give us that answer.

Now to the numbers. Every cup has seen a nation make the long trek home without even recording a solitary victory, South Africa and Japan in 2002, Spain in 2005 and India in 2008. Four new countries: France, East Timor, Tonga and Fiji join the returning India all looking to officially open their IC win account. History says someone is going home empty handed.

The coveted “Final Four” has been an exclusive club of only six nations: PNG, NZ, Ireland, U.S, South Africa and Denmark. The question is with PNG, NZ, Ireland and South Africa all considered the elite super-teams of the tournament, can anyone force their way in?

The cup format is vastly improved from previous tournaments. The 18 countries will fight out a “grading” day of matches. The top twelve advancing to the fight for the cup, the bottom six looking for the consolation prize in the division 2 finals. While it will be a brave effort to predict the final standings, one thing is a certainty – every country has a final ranking they will measure the success and failure of their cup by. Let’s have a look.

Ireland Warriors (Cup finishes: 1st – 4th – 4th)
2011 Seeded: 4th - Predicted finish: 1st – Team pass mark: 1st
The Warriors will accept nothing short of their second International Cup victory. They’ve employed a massive “planted-player” campaign of drawing half their squad from Irish players currently playing footy and living in Oz. Carlton Blues star Setanta OhAilpin’s “little” 198cm brother and former Carlton VFL player Aisake will add the icing to the cake.

New Zealand Hawks (formerly Falcons) (Cup finishes: 3rd – 1st – 2nd)
2011 Seeded: 2nd - Predicted finish: 2nd – Team pass mark: 1st
For a half of football in the IC2008 Grand Final New Zealand looked set for back-to-back Cups. PNG’s late surge robbed the Kiwi’s claim to undisputed international footy powerhouse.  

Team rankings to be continued...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jakarta survive a late surging Singapore in Indonesia

Singapore Wombats and Jakarta Bintangs go head to head July 23, 2011
The Singapore Wombat's unbeaten run has come to an end with the Jakarta Bintangs surviving a late onslaught from the 'Bats to escape with a 3 point win. The game was a nailbiter with the 'Bats peppering the goals in the final few minutes, several misses coming back to haunt the team. The siren sounded with the ball deep in the Singapore attacking area.

Full story to come soon...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The book is done! L'histoire des bleus et blancs: An Aussie Rules journey through Canada is available now through Blurb. 220 pages, 50,000+ words and over 400 photos on the beginnings of the Montreal based Quebec Saints Australian Rules football club.

Anyone keen on grabbing a copy be sure to buy in US DOLLARS (other currencies are inflated on the site) and enter BLURB15 promo code for a 15% discount.

A big thanks to all those people who contributed to the book!

Check out the preview here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Nugget beats an opponent to drive the ball forward for East Burwood in the VWFL.
The Canadian women’s Ice Hockey team won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. They were heroes, celebrated by the nation – and rightly so. There’s a simmering debate about women’s hockey as an Olympic sport: the argument is that it doesn’t have huge numbers worldwide. Canada has the highest amount of registered women players in 2011 with 85,000, Finland who scored bronze has less than 5,000. Whatever the outcome of the Olympics debate one thing is undeniable; these women are elite athletes and deserve every minute of their glory. It’s also a good starting point for some perspective.

Ask most Australians about Women’s Aussie Rules and they will be surprised that a women’s league even exists. It does. And as I sat at Etihad stadium during AFL Women’s round the announcement on the scoreboard threw out some very interesting numbers. There are now 70,000 women/girls playing Aussie Rules football in Australia. It’s one of the country’s fastest growing sports among females. Amongst this army of forgotten footballers lies what is considered by most the premier Women’s league in the world, the Victorian Women’s Football League (VWFL).

Aimee Legault in action for the Devils in their 95 point win.
For season 2011 that is where Canadian and former Montréal Angel Aimee Legault decided to play, setting herself the ultimate challenge – to play amongst the best.
The East Burwood football club warmly welcomed Aimee into their fold, and the former Angel became a Devil.

Aimee’s goals were simple to start with – just make the team. As worry and anxiety crossed her mind about whether or not she could make the cut, or even just gain a place in the reserves squad, all she wanted was the chance to let her newly adopted club – The East Burwood Devils – see her play. They did, and the results are nothing short of superb.

Aimee has become an integral part of the Devils line-up as they hold onto the last remaining finals spot, all the while jostling for position in what seems to be a certain post-season run. Frequently named in the best players she has played all nine games in the seniors (premier team) and currently sits third in the club goal kicking with 11. A little under two years ago the former semi-professional soccer star did not even know the game of Aussie Rules existed.
Watching the Devils dismantle the Melbourne Uni Muggars at Eley park in Round 9 I got a feel for exactly what the VWFL stands for. Aimee, affectionately branded “Leggo” by her teammates got in on the action early - swooping in to add to her goal kicking tally by snapping a goal from deep in the pocket early in the first term. The Devils full-forward Meg “Hutchy” Hutchison was a powerhouse up front, leading well and marking strongly overhead. Her lethal accuracy from 30-40 metres out enough to put many an AFL player to shame, 6 goals the result of her day out up forward. Perhaps the true reflection of the league was best summed up by Jess “Nugget” Foster. The tiny on-baller who has been kicking a footy for as long as she can remember was relentless in her attack on the ball. Courage, football smarts and class came to mind as the petite number 40 carved up her opponents – it was obvious that the best talent on the field was the equal to that of any women’s Ice Hockey team’s stars, the only thing lacking is the due respect.

The AFL are planning to launch a Women’s national league – sadly it has been put on the back burner due to the introduction of the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants. The new 2020 expected launch date will no doubt ensure that a majority of the leagues current talent never get their rightful opportunity to sparkle on the big stage.
In August the International Cup 2011 of Aussie Rules football will play out in Blacktown NSW and Melbourne. For the first time a women’s division will stand alongside the expected 25 countries that will field men’s teams. Aimee will join her sister Margo pulling on a jersey for Canada, and for two weeks women’s footy, albeit international versions, will hopefully get the respect they so richly deserve.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wombats make it 5 straight against Richard Champion's Masters

Luke Anderson and Richard Champion
Rumours had been flying around a few weeks out about the possible ex-AFL talent the Australian Masters would be bringing along to their hit-out against the Singapore Wombats. Sure, the team would be made up of over-35’s, but given that 36 year old Dustin Fletcher would technically make the cut on that team – and he’s currently holding down full-back in a top 8 AFL side – the ‘Bats went in to battle preparing to give the Masters Kangaroos’ plenty of respect.

Sure enough ex-Brisbane Lions star Richard Champion looking in as good a form as the day he played his last match strode out to Centre Half-Forward. As part of the ‘Bats back six once again, I was quietly rueing the fact that all former league champs, no matter what position they played in the big league, always seemed to settle in to the forward line in their retirement years. 

The whistle blew and the game got underway and the first lesson learnt was plain and simple – a master’s team means less speed, less vertical leap and plenty more cunning. The Kangaroos won the first centre clearance and speared a pass in to full-forward which was duly marked by their tall-timber spearhead. Twenty seconds in and the Wombats were already down by a goal. Under the assumption there was a little element of good fortune in the first goal, some worried sideways glances were shot from the ‘Bats bench as the Kangaroos won centre clearance number two. This time the Wombats defence weathered the storm, rebounded and finally got the ball forward of centre. The Singapore forward line which had been of concern early in the year was starting to find its feet and before long the ‘Bats had equalled the score. As the quarter wore on the ‘Bats wrestled the dominance in the midfield back and in doing so opened up a floodgate of goals for the term. After the worrying first few minutes, the Wombats had managed to kick six goals to one in the first term.

Quarter number two started as the first had ended but the Kangaroos were also getting their share of footy this time around. With Richard Champion having to push up the ground to make an impact the ‘Bats defence tightened the clamps giving nothing away, Singapore adding 4 majors for the term and led 10.1 (61) to 1.0 (6) at the main break.
With the focus at training the day before on developing some sound kick-out structures the message from the coach was simple “for f#@k’s sake, rush a behind so we get the chance to practice it!”
The third term had tightened right up and although the Wombats added a few more goals to the board the Kangaroos were finally looking dangerous going forward. The rock-solid Wombat defence finally cracked when a centring kick from defence fell short and landed in the hands of the ‘Roos. The resulting goal their only for the quarter as the Wombats extended their lead to 69 points at the last change. With the result beyond doubt both teams shifted down a gear, the Roos found their way forward adding another two goals to bring their tally for the afternoon to four but the Wombats responded with three of their own to keep the margin ever growing. The final siren brought to a solid day of footy in which the Wombats extended their winning streak to five games taking home the chocolates to the tune of 74 points. Singapore Wombats 16.6 102 defeated the Australian Masters Kangaroos 4.4 28. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011


HMAS Ballarat become victim number 4 in 2011
After starting the year 3-0, the Singapore Wombats entered the fourth game of the “touring” season fairly confident of making it four-on-the-trot. Determined to end the ‘Bats streak were the visiting Navy boys from the HMAS Ballarat. The Ballarat boys were keen to say the very least, suited up and ready to go a full hour before kickoff. The Wombats looked as if they might have a tough day at the office ahead.

In scenes akin of the Collingwood Malthouse-Buckley succession plan, Coach Hotton handed over the reins to budding understudy CK for the afternoon. Having found a neat little spot in the Wombats backline playing on the flank (a backline that had been conceding a miserly whisker under 5 goals per game) chances of me escaping the shackles of defence looked grim. That was until CK decided to change things up and throw me forward for the start of the match. The move may had been spurred on by my inspired last quarter efforts up forward last time out that saw me rack up some handy “goal assists” on the stat sheet, or it may have just been because I was wearing CK’s jumper that he didn’t want to get dirty, fact was heading into the fourth game of the year my mission was simple – kick a bloody goal!
With a midfield engine second only to the Judd-led Carlton football club the Wombats fired out of the blocks sending the ball forward. The Ballarat boys quickly tried to mop up, getting first hands on the loose ball and looking for a clearing kick to an open player in their defensive pocket. Swooping in, about to lay a tackle the Ballarat back pocket – now very aware of my presence – try to flick off a quick handpass. In a scene that could have been plucked straight out of the Matrix and was, as they say, more ass than class, I intercepted the ball in midair with my left hand, pinned it back to the chest of the stunned Ballarat player and tackled him into the turf before he (or I for that matter) had realized what had happened. Free Kick for holding the ball. You beauty! From around 30 metres out on a tightish angle I lined up and kicked possible the straightest ball of my life for goal number one of 2011. This was followed a few minutes later by another ball that has dribbled along the boundary just metres from our goal line. With three opponents to beat I got my hands on the ball, ducked, weaved and ducked some more before kicking POINT of the year. A narrow miss from a hurried snap hard up against the behind post made it Wombats 1.1 7 (via my 1.1) to the HMAS boys yet to score. The rest of the quarter was all Wombats as we pushed out to a five goal first term lead. The news wasn’t any better for the Navy boys in the second, despite having some class players around the ground – the Blue and White brigade’s best player was literally bare foot and keeping his charges semi-competitive, a late second quarter charge by Ballarat saw them keep within 5 odd goals heading into halftime.

Having had a reasonably good first half up front the rotation policy saw me return down back for the second half to mind the opposition Centre Half-Forward who had taken a fair dose of angry pills and was hell bent on smashing a few ‘Bats into the turf. Giving away 10cm in height and about 10kg I copped the brunt of a few cheap shots but was able to get the job done – angry man possession-less and dragged and the ‘Bats firmly in control cruising home to a whopping 81 point win.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Walking in the footsteps of Giants

As an Australian living abroad playing and spreading the word on Aussie Rules, I’ve often pondered what it would take to make our wonderful game part of the local landscape of my newly adopted city. The trials and tribulations of the dedicated few that man the ‘new frontiers’ around the world are more often than not the same: recruiting “converts”, finding fields and equipment, financing the whole project and simply spreading the word are all core to establishing our wonderful – yet hard to describe to the uninitiated – game of football. Many conversations at La Quebecoise pub in Montréal centred on the what if? What if we could run programs in schools and develop juniors? What if we had exposure in the media? They were the pipedreams of Aussie Rules pioneers thousands of miles from home.
But what if money wasn’t a problem? If fields were magically starting to appear, grassroots programs were put into place and the media took an interest so the ‘word’ was getting out – could it actually work?

We’re about to find out – thanks to the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Now before the Hardcore rugby loving public of NSW tears my heart out, it’s important to know that “sport” is a choice on the menu, fans are the dining public and you can’t be “force fed” something you don’t like. It’s all about choice, and having an extra choice on the menu is not a bad thing. Footy is a great spectator sport, and when offering it up, makes a great side dish to the prospective fan’s other first love be it ice hockey, soccer or rugby. That said the Giants have a rather large PRO and an even larger CON that most ex-pat weekend warriors don’t experience in the Montréal’s, Toronto’s, Boston’s and London’s of international footy.

The PRO is footy already exists in Sydney. It’s far from being the number one sport but it’s definitely a known entity. The Sydney Swans have reached the pinnacle of the AFL in the harbour city, and although sporting success in any city will lead to fleeting popularity for a brief moment in time -the standard overseas conversation of “I play Aussie Rules Football” and response: “Oh, you mean Rugby (or Soccer)” does not apply. That’s a huge head start.

The CON is that there is direct (and in some cases loathing) opposition – Rugby League doesn’t want the big bad wolf lurking in their backyard. It’s been dubbed by some as a ‘Code War’. The NRL even went as far as rescheduling one of their marquee match-ups to coincide with the Suns big night in hopes to take the shine off the Gold Coast v Brisbane Lions first “Q-Clash” derby. It didn’t work, the Suns v Lions game was a roaring success. But perhaps the AFL should wear that slap in the face for poaching Hunt and Folau, two of the NRL’s finest. We’ll call it even – for now.

Like the very real prospect of every international Aussie Rules club: the Giants might fail. There’s no guarantees in this venture except that the AFL are planning to stick it out long-term. Now long-term doesn’t mean forever, but it certainly means that if the Giants don’t make it, it won’t be because they never had a chance. So what is the measure of success aside from simply surviving? Far from the “every kid gives rugby away and converts to AFL” Armageddon scenario in the back of the minds of some doomsayers, a sustainable team where local footy is played on weekends by plenty of kids, good crowds at Giants games and some Aussie Rules banter at water coolers in Sydney’s West on a Monday morning should suffice. There’s plenty of room for AFL and NRL in good ole Sydney town.

The path the Giants are carving is one many of us in the international community dream of. The fact they have amongst their playing stocks a rugby league convert also has to warm the hearts of the world footy community – we’ve all played in games where the rugby convert with huge potential invariably gets into open space and instinctively tucks the ball under his arm and darts away to the mild amusement of his/her teammates. Israel Folau has been much maligned but is far more advanced than those raw first gamers. Like Hunt, he has backed himself to be able to make the switch and has opened himself up to immense ridicule if he fails. The greatest basketballer in the world did that once too, although for different reasons I might add. Folau doesn’t expect to fail. Respect that, and judge him fairly, he’s not making a million dollars because he’s as good as Judd and Ablett, his inflated salary is all about getting the ‘word’ out. And it is money that seems to be well spent. He’s a first year player who has never played the game before just like Mike Pyke was when he started at Sydney three years ago. Pyke’s stock is on the rise, but realize it was not an overnight success.

Unlike the Gold Coast Suns who are tipped to be a force in only a few years (despite the fickle football public diving off the bandwagon after the round 2 loss to Carlton and hypocritically sneaking back on after the Q-Clash victory) the Giants are supreme underdogs. Nobody outside the Giant's inner sanctum envisions success, only doom and gloom. We’ve all heard the talk - no one will want to play there, they’ve got no chance of securing a big name, they’ll be the easy beats and blight on the competition – they’ll be located in Tasmania in less than ten years. Even their name and colours have been ridiculed by the very football public that they belong to. Not me, I’ve enjoyed the Suns making their grand entrance, the team born with a silver spoon in their mouth as they were described. Although I didn’t love the name or colours at first I’ve also warmed to the Giants, their effort to stand out, be noticed and fight what many describe as an unwinnable battle resonates with me and my time in Montréal with the Québec Saints. I understand what they’re doing, and I hope they succeed.

And that’s why I am now a GWS Giants foundation member. Although they’ll never displace my passion for my beloved Navy Bluebaggers – I’m in for the long haul (Although I might be somewhat miffed if they pinch Marc Murphy!).

There will be a plethora of international Aussie Rules rookies this year from New York to Mumbai kicking a footy for the very first time. Inevitably they’ll be faced with a decision on which AFL team to support. Their Aussie friends will be doing their best to recruit them into the fold of their dear and beloved teams. But here is an idea - make your team the Giants. They should be installed as the World Footy community’s adopted team – like Ben Lee said, we’re all in this together. They are the group that are, in a sense, standing in the trenches alongside us – the international footy community – fighting the good fight. After all, thanks to the Giants in twenty years time, the players of the Québec Saints who are knocking back a Labatt’s Bleu at La Quebecoise in Montréal will have an answer to the very question that bounced off the gritty walls of the team’s beloved watering hole not too long ago – what if...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wombats win epic 'Singapore Showdown' over Sharks

Singapore Wombats and Singapore Sharks go head-to-head
You learn something new every day. Last week I learnt Singapore has TWO football teams. Let me explain: The Wombats have been a Singapore staple for nearly 20 years, but tucked away is another team – the Sharks. The Sharks are predominantly an Auskick group of (many!) kids running around playing footy (very very well I might add). The Sharks ‘Dads’ are their men’s team – it’s kind of football in reverse, instead of a team investing in juniors, juniors have invested in, well, their Dads.

This brings me to the ‘Singapore Showdown’ (Number 2 if I am correct?) . The Wombats have started off the season in impressive fashion dispensing with the HMAS Melbourne Demons by 10+ goals at home, then travelling to Malaysia and giving Trent Croad’s Warriors a 12 goal touch up. The match-up against the Sharks went well last year, the Wombats taking the honours. But for 2011 there was a twist. Some Wombats now have kids running around in the Sharks program, so come Showdown #2, they would be wearing the Green and Gold in a one-off performance.

I took up my now familiar position in the Wombats back six as the game kicked off. The ‘Bats impressive early with plenty of the ball, but once again wasteful up front missing some gettable goals. The Sharks were extremely competitive, but with Big Ben dominating through the midfield a la Dane Swan the Wombats managed to kick away to a small lead. The Sharks may have had a slightly older average age, but it didn’t stop their big guns flying across the packs taking some absolute screamer marks, the Green and Gold guys were well drilled and responded late in the quarter with a couple of their own, the Wombats holding a narrow 4 point lead at the break, 2.6 to 2.2.

Steffo breaking a tackle
It was déjà vu in the second term, Jaco was on fire through the middle for the Wombats with great support from Sammie Brewster and Jezza but just when the Wombats looked as if they might skip away, the Sharks would reel back the deficit, the ‘Bats still in front by 4 points at the half.
Buoyed by the mention in the best players for the Malaysian game the previous week (a huge improvement from my nightmare debut earlier in the year)  I’d racked up a few touches early playing off half-back, the Sharks however had used the ball so well moving into their strong marking forward line our backline were under constant pressure.

The third term kicked off and the Sharks threw down the challenge. Their full-forward was marking well, and by the time he had decided he would run through me and give me an elbow to the face the Sharks were starting to look dangerous. The Wombats frontal pressure was non-existent as the team seemingly coasted along expecting the win to just happen. With some Wombats playing brilliantly in Sharks colours the momentum swung, and at three-quarter-time the game was poised for a huge upset, the Sharks leading by a point, 6.6 to 5.11.

Wombats coach Hotto demanded the ‘Bats dig deep, the bragging rights of an entire country on the line. Moved up front to play as a defensive half-forward in the last quarter I finally escaped the shackles of the backline, the quarter kicking off with both teams trading goals. Still neck and neck the ball was sent forward for the ‘Bats again, the Sharks getting numbers back and attempted to clear the ball. A series of handballs found their way to the Sharks ruckman as he prepared to send the Sharks forward I wrapped the big man up, no free kick but the ball spilled free and the ‘Bats went forward again and managed to squeeze one through, the ‘Bats up by handful of points. Despite both teams having very deep benches there were a lot of tired legs on the field, the Wombats gaining another centre clearance and going forward. The ball bounced deep into the forward pocket, arriving at the same time as two Sharks I threw the ball onto the left boot and sent it to the top of the goal square, a kind bounce and an obliging Wombat made no mistake, the margin slipped out to just over a goal. It was left to Belly to put the icing on the cake, his goal moments later put the game beyond reach of the gallant Sharks, they would go forward late in the quarter and narrowly miss a few chances, eventually falling by 17 points. It was an epic battle, and the second chapter of what will surely be a fierce rivalry for years to come.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wombats defeat Malaysia Warriors to claim 'Changi Cup'

Perhaps it was the Singapore Wombats reputation for being late or the sight of the Sepang Formula One circuit through the bus window, but the first win of the Wombats Malaysian tour came early and was simply arriving at the field alive. There were more than a few anxious moments (observed by the look of mild shock on the players faces), but not even a red light – located on a busy thoroughfare and very red for quite some time -was going to stop the Michael Schumacher inspired bus driver, taking the sweeping corners at break neck speed and having to switch lanes at the last second as inconsiderate drivers used his braking zones to go about their Saturday afternoon outings.

The Malaysian Warriors played host to the warm favourite Wombats, but with new inclusion; 2008 Hawthorn Premiership player and All-Australian Trent Croad in the line-up for the locals, the Warriors might have fancied themselves a little stronger up forward than usual.

Despite my best efforts to escape a backline entrusted with the job of shutting down a retired AFL superstar – who coincidentally would be pulling on the boots at the ripe old age of 31 – after a quick sales pitch by Juzzy and a once over stare down appraisal by assistant coach CK, as the team was read out I took my place on the half-back flank, secretly deciding as I was lining up for the start of the match that I’d play the position to the letter, half-back and the other half wherever I damn well pleased.

The match kicked off and the first centre clearance fell to my soon-to-be-outlawed gloved hands, driving the ball forward for the ‘Bats, the single stat already a vast improvement from my possession-less first half debut earlier in the year. Some tidy work up forward saw a goal on the board and the Singapore side had drawn first blood in the battle for the ‘Changi Cup’. The Warriors hit back quickly winning a centre clearance and lobbing the ball out in front of T.Croad. Despite the desperate attempt of two Wombats, some speed may have been lost by the former Hawthorn great but the strength was still very much apparent as he wrestled free of his minders and stretched out his arms to take a well-contested mark 35 from home on a slight angle. A costly behind was followed shortly by another from Croad as the Wombats responded with a few goals of their own, Brandon ‘Baby Beiber’ Hough dancing his way around his Malaysian defender to kick his first of the afternoon in a performance that would have melted the hearts of every thirteen year old in the vicinity. Despite a superb effort by the Malaysian ruckman the Wombats started to win the contested ball, taking the edge in the centre clearances and peppering their forward end with shots on goal. Rooster was presenting well up front but couldn’t keep the ball wedged between his wings, the 'Bats overusing the ball in front of goal – possibly to build up the supercoach points – and had wasted the momentum early. The Warriors responded with a good passage of play that landed the ball once again in the vice like hands of Croad. His first major keeping the Malaysian team in the match as the first quarter drew to an end, the ‘Bats in control by three goals.

Quarter number two started with the Wombats back six, who had done a solid job of restricting the Warrior forwards to a solitary major, making sure that Croad was well held. The Wombats again took charge of the match, kicking away early under the drive from Taggart and Jezza. Frustration started to show though as the Singapore backline blanketed the Warrior offence keeping them goalless, Croad a spectator as half-time arrived, the Bats leading seven goals to one.

The Warriors battled on in the third term refusing to go quietly. Tempers flared but the ‘Bats continued their domination increasing their lead, Croad doing his best impersonation of Leigh Matthews by running into a goal post and snapping it half. With the game all but over heading into the fourth quarter it was left to the Warriors big ruckman who had been stellar all day to continue the fight for the home side. He and his gallant midfield had been serviceable but were again overwhelmed by the Wombats charge led by Wazza and Taggart – the Singapore Wombats coasting home to record their first win of the touring season to the tune of 12 goals.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Women's Aussie Rules IC 2011 has no clear favourite

Six nations will compete for the coveted 2011 women's crown.
The fourth International Cup of Aussie Rules football will also be the first to feature a women’s division (to be played from the 15th – 27th August, 2011). The AFL has recently released the fixture currently showing six competing teams: Canada, United States, Italy, Ireland, Papua New Guinea and a Multicultural/Indigenous team. It’s a giant step for international women’s footy and adds an exciting new aspect to the cup. The six nations will play four round-robin matches, with the top two placed teams playing off for the cup.

The real question now is who is going to win? While the European entrants are relative newcomers - thanks to well over a hundred years of Gaelic football - Irish talent has always been pretty strong ‘straight out of the box’ and on recent form the Team Italia squad aren’t too far behind. The North American contingent boast a healthy talent pool to pick from with the United States home to no fewer than thirteen women’s clubs and Canada five – both countries growing new teams all the time. Canada, on home soil, took home the points last time out against the U.S – yet again there wasn’t much between the two teams. PNG’s women’s program started in 2006 with an U/16 development squad, fast forward five years and their national team may very well be full of women in the early 20’s who have experience playing against Australian talent and around five years of footy under their belt. The PNG men have made every International Cup final, their women will be out to continue that stellar record. The final entry is the biggest mystery, the combined team could very well be a powerhouse, until they take the field it’s anyone’s guess. The fixture will also play a big role, each team plays only four others meaning it isn’t a perfectly level playing field. It’s a real possibility that a grand final spot could be won or lost on the number drawn out of the fixture hat. It’s a stab in the dark and based on paper thin knowledge, but I’ll have a dabble at ranking the squads.

Champions – Canada: Would be aiming to at the very least make the final, change of coach for 2011, recent form gives them the edge.
Runner-up – United States: Parallel Cup loss will have the team hungry, all preparations have been geared for IC2011 for some time. If everything goes to plan may be flying home with the silverware.
3rd – Papua New Guinea: Will probably make a fool out of my prediction and be much stronger, if the program started in 2006 has achieved its goals – IC11 was made for this team.
4th – Ireland: No team will get an easy time of the girls in green. Fast, hard running and long-kicking, with a little luck who knows?
5th – Italy: Seem to have put together an incredible program in an extremely short amount of time. If it improves at the rate it started Italy will finish much higher than fifth.
6th – Multi: Unknowns, combine teams have the difficulty of learning to adapt to each other and gel. Of course if the team is talent laden that may be easy, but for now the unknowns have to be ranked sixth.
The uneven fixture has been a hot topic.

Most Recent results:
Ireland 6.14 (50) defeated Italy 6.4 (40) in Italy October 2nd, 2010.
Canada 10.6 (66) defeated United States 6.7 (43) in Toronto, Canada August 7th, 2010.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Myk Aussie interviews Canada coach Jaye Macumber

Sports show host Myk Aussie interviews Northwind Canadian head co-coach Jaye Macumber after the Northwind held at training session in Ottawa. Jaye Macumber led the Toronto Central Blues to the Division 1 Ontario AFL Premiership in 2010 and explains the new approach that is being taken for Canada's 2011 International Cup campaign.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Singapore Wombats v HMAS Melbourne 'Demons' Feb 1st, 2011
A friend once told me that playing footy in Montréal was like finding the fountain of youth. I thought about that as I lifted my face out of the mud and trudged towards the Singapore Wombats halftime huddle. My first half as a ’Bat had been somewhat of a disaster, a handful of dropped marks, two goals kicked on me and despite a few ‘knock-ons’ to my team’s advantage, not a single possession to my name. It was great to be back playing footy amongst all Australians.

Due to a week of monsoon like rain the ‘Terror Club’ field had developed very quickly into a mud-patch, one ‘island’ of grass at the clubhouse end half-forward area the only real place a football boot could hope to gain find any real traction. The Wombats opponent the HMAS Melbourne ‘Demons’ had cleverly headed out onto the field early to acclimatize to the conditions, but despite their recon and my -94 Supercoach rating points the Wombats, although rusty at times, were in complete control and as such held a handy 4 to 5 goal break at the main change.

Having abandoned a career in the backline in under 15’s life on the last line of defence wasn’t going so well for me. Thankfully in the second half the Demons played a man loose in defence leaving me free, finally having the chance to push up the field. Having a chance to roam through my more familiar midfield/half-forward role I finally registered on the stats sheet, and then after a snap on goal that looked like I’d finally have something to hang my hat on – the ball skidded through for a behind. It was all of little importance in the bigger picture; the Wombats had blown the game out of the water by the half-way mark of the third term. Such was dominance that in the slimy conditions in which nearly every player was covered from head to toe in mud and the ball was doing its best impression of a bar of soap one of the Wombats forwards on a lead threw out one arm to take an impressive one-handed grab. The final score saw the ‘Bats take home a ten goal plus victory, a tidy effort for the team that would now go back into its burrow for another month of hibernation before the real season kicked off.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Only one country wins the 2011 International Cup, but imagine a tournament where everyone walks away a winner.
When the 2011 International Cup of Aussie Rules rolls around in August this year, the AFL estimates we will see the highest participation by countries since the tournament started in 2002, and the good news doesn’t end there – for the first time there will be a women’s section in the tournament. Early estimates have the number at around twenty-five nations for the men’s competition, while this number will probably shrink a little by the time the first ball is bounced in Blacktown, Sydney; it’s a massive boost from the sixteen nations that took part in 2008. Clearly Aussie Rules has been doing a fantastic job of making inroads internationally in the past few years.

An AFL-backed International Cup in Canada in 2014? Why not?
The average Aussie probably doesn’t even know the tournament exists – yet it’s played in Melbourne and there are reasonable crowds (crowds for Warrnambool matches last cup were in fact bigger than some of the Melbourne crowds) but to undermine the importance of the meaning of the International Cup is very wrong, this is the pinnacle of our beloved sport to the people beyond our shores – the World Cup of Aussie Rules. Yes Australia doesn’t take part, yes we know that there is a huge gap between Australia and the rest of the world, but isn’t the day that Australia is second best at Aussie Rules a day to rejoice? It means that some nation has taken to our game with such a passion they’ve made it their own. I’m sure there was an Englishman in a pub in Surrey scoffing at the notion that India were starting to play cricket at the start of the 18th century, and I bet the phrase that “they’ll never be as good as us” rolled of someone’s tongue at some stage – cricket is no longer a sport in India, it’s a way of life. But I think it’s safe to say Gary Ablett Jnr doesn’t have to worry just yet, probably not even Ablett Jnr-Jnr-Jnr.. you get my drift.

There is however some very reasonable questions being thrown around about the cup. Germany will not be at IC 2011, and they gave the same reason for not being at IC 2008 – it’s too expensive, the money could be better spent on local development.  Australia is after all a long way from, well, pretty much everywhere. And when you’re an amateur sportsman paying your own way for a two week trip half-way around the world that adds up. There have been suggestions flying around that the cup be held every four years to help combat the cost issue. Makes financial sense, and if it gets better participation rates I’m all for it, but it’s a little bit too long between drinks for my liking, and apparently most others feel the same way. The biggest question of all is what does the International Cup mean? Is it the tournament that defines the best of the rest in the world? Does it define the best amateur country in the world? Who has the best football development program perhaps? Or is it the showcase for International Aussie Rules?  Because even if it’s a small piece of the latter, we’re doing it all wrong.

Here’s an idea I was against at first, after all, nothing can compare to running out on the MCG to play a footy match. Play the International Cup outside of Australia (or alternatively every second cup outside of Oz). Now before you throw your arms up in the air and say that’s like playing the AFL Grand Final somewhere other than the MCG, (Hawthorn won in 1991 at Waverly by the way) consider this: in 2008 of the sixteen nations; 7 were from Europe/America, 7 were from Australasia, 1 from Africa and the Peace team from the Middle-East. More than half of the likely new nations at IC 2011 will be from the Europe region again. Imagine the boost twenty-five nations flying into Paris for the Aussie Rules International Cup 2014 would give not only France but Europe if the tournament was run by the AFL? Professional promotion of the event equals more media coverage, less travel costs to European and North American squads and a lot of noise in the backyard of the very nations who want it most. If England win IC 2011 it may be worth a story in the local paper, if England win in a tournament that was held in London in 2014 with twenty-five nations in town and an event backed by the AFL that has to be a massive boost. But don’t stop there; have the tournament supported by an AFL exhibition match in the host country. Make that the gift you give the international teams, not a free domestic flight from Sydney to Melbourne. Then 2017 the cup moves to the Asia region in the same format, then Canada, then PNG, then South Africa and so on.. (or back to Oz first if option ‘B’ is more to your liking). It all comes down to the AFL getting serious about international expansion. There was a clear mistake by not capitalizing on the 32,000 people Canada got to a Melbourne Demons v Geelong Cats game in Vancouver in the late eighties, if it’s done right, the International Cup could be the tool that helps re-open the flood gates once again.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


This Singapore skyline has been home to the Singapore Wombats since 1993.

Looking out the window to the Singapore skyline at another 27 - 31 degree day it's hard to believe they don't play Aussie Rules football here everyday. The truth of the matter is that in terms of the International Aussie Rules landscape, Asia and the rest of the world are very different - for now anyway.

Japanese Samurai IC 2008
While the core of nearly every football program around the world starts with a bunch of homesick Australians, most North American and European programs have blossomed into leagues that include an ever growing number of eager locals. There will be a host of European countries that don't quite make it to IC 2011, but you can guarantee they all have 2014 penciled into the calendars.

Asian Aussie Rules programs, of which there are plenty, for the most part are made up of ex-pat Australians. It's not a criticism of the Aussie's that have invested the time to build a foundation for their beloved past-time, but a huge opportunity to capitalize on the hard work that has already been invested. Too often the opinion that 'Asians aren't sporty', or 'Asians aren't big enough' to play Aussie Rules are thrown out by those who have neither the desire or knowledge to scratch the surface and discover the truth. It's not a completely barren landscape of local involvement, Japan has competed in all three Aussie Rules International Cups with increasingly impressive results, 8th place in 2008 a clear indication that the potential is undoubtedly there. China and India's first cup appearances all pointing toward what very well may be the next Asian wave of International teams making the grade.

The AFL although having been slow to see the potential in International growth have at last taken their eye off Ireland's wealth of pre-made footballers and are starting to cast it where real grass-roots potential awaits - China. The match between Melbourne and Brisbane played on Chinese soil recently the first real stepping stone to forging a newly discovered local fan base for our game. Asia is home to nearly 4 billion people, North America and Europe combined somewhere in the vicinity of 1.5  billion. Add to that the huge bonus that the 'Asian Invasion' has in regards to location and all the factors point toward a new hot spot for our game.

The Islands of Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Samoa are the hot topic of new hunting grounds for undiscovered talent right now, rightly so as the quality of raw young footballers unearthed there is outstanding. They definitely have the close proximity to Australia in their pros 'check box', but can't even come close to Asia in terms of population and long term potential for 'critical mass'.

The international expansion of Aussie Rules is growing rapidly, paving the way in new markets is a long and arduous task that doesn't always deliver results quickly. But rest assure that when the Asian Invasion begins, there will be no stopping it.