Contributed by: Brett Northey
worldfootynews.com has been publishing unofficial Men's World Rankings since 2006 and has been using a consistent methodology since 2010. In establishing that methodology we consulted with our readership and that influenced the final decision.
Although some informal updates were published during IC17 our last formal edition was in late 2016 and we're due to issue a post-IC17 update, but find ourselves confronted by some difficult decision regarding which teams qualify.
It has been suggested that a match involving Canada B could be included, as well as games by the hybrid sides Indochina and Asia Lions. There's also a match between the USA and Canada way back in 1993 that has been suggested as needing to go into our statistics. In the spirit of the 2010 debate, we're seeking feedback from our readers as to their thoughts.
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Canada B would seem an obvious exclusion but in starting to develop the Women's rankings in recent years the US and Canadian B teams were included due to the severe lack of nations competing and eligible games to add to the statistics. Personally I don't think this justifies adding Canada B in the Men's rankings, which have far greater statistics to support them.
Indochina debuted in October 2016 at the All Asian Championships. It drew players from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and at the time also looked headed for IC17. It was with this expected continuity that they were added to our World Rankings. We'd love feedback as to whether they are likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future.
Information on the continuity of the AFL Asia Lions is less firm. We believe they were pulled together from various countries to provide China with opposition in the match that featured with the Port Adelaide vs Gold Coast AFL match in China this year. Countries represented were Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. For this hybrid to be included in our rankings there would need to be an intention to repeat the concept regularly and use the same core nations, otherwise the ranking they establish will have no bearing on their ability from one match to the next and effectively just be throwing random statistical noise into the rankings system.
The 1993 USA vs Canada match was recently put forward by Bill Frampton, founding president of the Canadian Australian Football Association (CAFA), the forerunner to AFL Canada. Bill argues that:
"With the International Cup coming up I was reading your pages about the rankings and matches used to compile them when I noticed that you're missing the earliest match which would meet your criteria. That match was played when Canada hosted Great Britain at Centennial Park Oval in Toronto on the 3rd of October 1993.
I remember it well as I made the long trek from Moncton to Toronto to attend it and in the event acted as timekeeper. The sides played 18-a-side with at least half nationals. Canada won 10.6 66 to 6.7 43 on a cool overcast autumn day with occasional light drizzle."
We needed to draw a line somewhere and set 1994 as our start point, which in no way diminishes this game but makes it fairly clear it should be excluded. We'd also have concerns that it would fail other criteria. These days we require teams to be mostly nationals but back then such games were rare so there was some leniency. From our criteria page page:
"For matches played prior to IC2002, games must have been at least 12-a-side and more than 8 players being nationals."
Seven years after we wrote those rules they are seen to not quite be as thorough as intended. 8 out of 12 meant two thirds being nationals but if it was 18-a-side I believe our intent would've been to have two thirds be nationals, so at least 12 of 18. And again, the cutoff was 1994, which was not suggesting that prior games did not occur. Admittedly their exclusion from our tables may result in future presentations of tables of wins/losses that omit such games. But we're certainly not keen to retrospectively change all our tables over the last 7 years. We'd also then have to make sure of any other 1993 games.
This query has also caused a revisit of the criteria, which were steadily tightened for later periods. The current rule applicable is:
"For matches played since IC2008, games must have been at least 16-a-side and at least 12 players on each team being nationals (ideally all players)."
I believe this should now be superceded by a rule stating:
"For matches played since IC2017, games must have been at least 16-a-side and all players on each team being nationals."
Thoughts please on Canada B, Indochina, AFL Asia Lions and the 1993 and post-IC17 criteria.
World Footy News