A British Reflection on the International Cup…

Reflection on the IC…


A couple of weeks have now passed since the last ball was kicked in Melbourne by any of the international teams who made the journey over. I was fortunate enough to spend a week on New Zealand’s South Island with my wife, my brother and his girlfriend and it gave me a lot of time to reflect on the three weeks in Melbourne and the performance of the GB Swans in particular.


Some people may look at us winning the European Championships in 2016 and think that we may feel like we should have performed better in Melbourne but I think this would doing all involved a massive disservice. Anyone who has organised a sports trip of any magnitude will know the blood, sweat and tears that go into making such a thing possible. So to take a group of girls, many of whom with no experience of the game eighteen months ago, and get them to commit to giving up time and money amongst many other sacrifices to travel across the world to play in a tournament is no mean feat so huge thanks must go to Jason Hill as team manager.


Having only really been formed around eighteen months previously we were delighted just to get out to Australia so to have broken into the top three in our first International Cup is an achievement that everyone involved should feel very proud of. Coming into the tournament I feel like we would have taken a finish inside the top four so I think it is fair to say that the management and players alike are very proud of what we achieved in those special three weeks. It must be noted here that the hard work, dedication, and commitment of people such as Charlie Eales, Lisa Wilson and Laura Turner, amongst many others, made this all possible from the idea forming in late 2015.


As well as such pleasing team performances and squad cohesion, it must also be mentioned that we had four women selected for the Team of the Tournament which is testament to the girls’ commitment to getting in the best possible shape in preparation. Beth Bailey, Lucy Jones, Frankie Hocking and Danni Saulter all performed superbly in each round of games in which they featured and fully deserved their accolade, awarded at the superb Gala Dinner at the impressive Crown Casino. As with all these things, I feel like we had other girls who were unlucky to not also be recognised for their individual contributions to the team success. Don’t be surprised come IC2020 to see names such as Caroline Sellar and Alex Saulter featuring in the team of the tournament.


To end the tournament with a 3:2 record, only losing against the two sided that competed the Grand Final at the Etihad, is something that as a coaching group we hope the girls take not only great pride from, but also a determination and resolve to go at least one better next time out. Both of these sides have elements we will seek to learn from, improve on and implement in our own game before we face them both again. We have played Ireland numerous times in the last couple of years and they have always been close games so it was no surprise that our semi-final went down to the wire. The Canadians are a group which we have developed a good-natured but competitive working nature with and we hope that will long continue.


Team and individual performances aside, I have also taken the time to appreciate just what a fantastic experience and tournament the International Cup is. For instance, our first game against a young and inexperienced Pakistan side was an absolute privilege to be a part of. To see young ladies from a country where football is not in the forefront of most minds, let alone young women, chasing, tackling and kicking the ball as if nothing else mattered was inspirational. I hope they can go home and inspire many more people to take up Australian Rules football.


The Fijians were the toughest tackling but the friendliest bunch of women you could ever hope to meet. This was one game where I was happy to be on the coaching side of the boundary line! The bonus of this game being played at the superb Peninsula Grammar where the girls were made to feel like the stars of the AFLW just added to the experience.


Canada as we have come to expect were well drilled, highly skilled and efficient at everything they did. Playing out at Diamond Creek with their fantastic hospitality was a joy. We hope to travel to Canada next year to return their journey they made over to us in May of this year. We have been in regular contact with the Canadian coaching team since then and this is another example of how Australian Rules football and the International Cup goes way beyond the games out on the ground.


As for Ireland, well they never know when they are beaten and were deserved champions. We always enjoy pitting ourselves against their skills and we hope this will continue.


Our final game against the USA provided us with a tough, hard battle against an experienced and skilful side in less than ideal football conditions but we showed the togetherness, mental strength and courage to seize the game with not long to go – in much the same way the Irish did to us in our semi-final only days earlier.


To sum up the tournament all I can say is that for a football lover it is a truly incredible experience. From the Parade of Nations around the MCG to eating, sleeping, and breathing football for three solid weeks it is just something to cherish. An outstanding performance from an incredible bunch of girls was simply an added bonus!



To read more about the 2017 International Cup click HERE.


  1. Great to read a little more about the GB Swans’ tournament having enjoyed Lisa Wilson’s contribution to our Footy Almanac International Cup lunch.

  2. Such a lovely article to read and find out more about the GB Swans journey in Australia. Very well done with your achievements and more to come.

Leave a Comment