Lightning tournament opening and seedings

Saturday, July 02 2011 @ 05:30 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey

The Australian Football League has released the draw and details of the 2011 AFL International Cup. The fourth Cup will feature 18 men's sides and 5 women's sides. Here we will focus on the man, and detail the women's schedule in a later article.

The men's competition will see the teams seeded from 1 to 18 and then sorted into 6 approximately even pools for a lightning tournament in the style of the 2011 NAB AFL Cup (pre-season). On the opening day the teams will play each of the other two members of their pool in games of 2 x 15 minute halves (10 min half-time break). The result will be 6 pools of 3 sorted teams. The top 2 from each will go through to Division 1 and the bottom side from each will form Division 2. Hence there will be 12 in Div 1 and 6 in Div 2.

The seedings are:

Country Rank
New Zealand 2
South Africa 3
Ireland 4
Nauru 5
Canada 6
Japan 8
GB 9
Denmark 10
Sweden 11
Tonga* 12
Peace 13
Fiji* 14
East Timor* 15
China 16
India 17
France* 18

* Did not compete IC08

In deciding the rankings AFL International Development Manager Tony Woods, in a memo to the competing countries, explained that, "The first 11 places were ranked on previous performance in 2008 while 12 to 18 were ranked at AFL discretion given they are either new teams or at the beginning of an in country development program."

Initial Ranking and Matches on Game Day 1 (Saturday August 13th)

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Group 6
1 v 12 2 v 11 3 v 10 4 v 9 5 v 8 6 v 7
1 v 18 2 v 17 3 v 16 4 v 15 5 v 14 6 v 13
12 v 18 11 v 17 10 v 16 9 v 15 8 v 14 7 v 13

Using the 2008 Cup as the starting point seems a fair basis. From there deciding the best order must have been difficult. Tonga was present at IC08 but as somewhat unexpected arrivals did not compete in the main draw. Fiji are new to senior footy but are expected to come with some impressive athletes, whilst East Timor are relatively unknown in international competition. China and India struggled at IC08 and are expected to field quite inexperienced sides. Perhaps France coming in at 18th could be argued against, given they have some European experience.

What happens after the opening day? That's where in the interests of trying to keep things fair the schedule gets somewhat complicated.

The top two from each pool form Div 1, and are re-ranked, based on their wins, losses and percentage from their first day's results. The 12 teams are then sorted into 4 pools of 3 based on those ranks.

Men’s Division 1 Ranking and Grouping after Seeding Round (Opening Day)

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
1 2 3 4
8 7 6 5
9 10 11 12

Over the next few days of the tournament (effectively Game Days 2, 3 and 4) they then play the other two members of their pool, on separate days, in longer matches as per past Cups (so each team playing on two of Monday 15th, Wednesday 17th, Friday 20th August). The 12 teams will then be sorted, again on their wins, losses and percentage in their pool, to form a new 1 to 12 rank. Based on that Match Day 4 will be allocated, with 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 as semi-finals, the winners through to the Division 1 Grand Final to be crowned 4th International Cup champions.

Men’s Division 1 Re-ranked after Pool Matches, Played on Game Day 4 (Wednesday 24th August)

Winner to play off in GF (Saturday 27th Aug) 1 v 4
Loser to play off for 3rd (Friday 26th Aug) 2 v 3
Winner to play off for 5th (Friday 26th Aug) 5 v 8
Loser to play off for 7th (Friday 26th Aug) 6 v 7
Winner to play off for 9th (Friday 26th Aug) 9 v 12
Loser to play off for 11th (Friday 26th Aug) 10 v 11

Now let's not forget Division 2. This consists of the 6 teams that finished bottom of each of the initial pools. They are effectively ranked 13th to 18th and are allocated into 2 new pools of 3 each. They play the other two teams once and one cross-over match against a team from the other pool.

Men’s Division 2 Ranking and Grouping after Seeding Round

Group 1 Group 2
13 14
15 16
17 18

Men’s Division 2 Schedule after Seeding Round

Round 2
Wed 17th August 13 v 17
14 v 18
cross over match 15 v 16
Round 3
Saturday 20th August 15 v 17
14 v 16
cross over match 13 v 18
Round 4
Wed 24th August 13 v 15
16 v 18
cross over match 14 v 17

The two highest ranked teams after all Division two round matches, based on pts and % qualify for Division 2 Grand Final.

There's no doubt the fixture is very complicated. It appears to be the product of extensive attempts to ensure a fair system giving each team a chance to win based on their ability. At the end of the day for fans and players alike the message is fairly clear - Day One has been set (we'll publish that in detail separately), and stay tuned at the end of that to see when and where the remaining matches will be played.

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