The late game for the day provided a power packed pitting of Pacific protagonists – New Zealand Hawks taking on the Nauru Chiefs. The rain had thankfully passed - however as this 3:45pm game progressed the sun also began to pass - as the moon rose in the East the lights were flicked on, with limited benefit to the onlookers.
The New Zealand squad had the height advantage and match up pretty well on weight so wouldn't be pushed around. Nevertheless there were some fierce clashes and players on both sides will wake up sore tomorrow morning.
Lunch time footy from Ransford Oval with Womens pool B combatants Papua New Guinea Flames taking on the European Crusaders. The Flames with youth on their side but would have to adapt to the wintry conditions that prevailed at the start of the match. The Crusaders on the other hand - a very much an unknown quantity and their limited squad is pretty much their match day line-up.
Running onto Ransford Oval suddenly seemed an ordeal in itself for the Flames - as the drizzle set in the wind blew up. Would the wet favour the Crusaders - in perhaps more European conditions than the tropical climes of PNG.
Perhaps not the clash of traditional rivals however the AFL International Cup debut of Sri Lanka Lions, on a chilly Melbourne August morning was an important moment in time for a proud sporting nation. Their opponent – the Indonesia Garudas – back after a tough campaign in IC14. The scene – the Royal Park Western Oval under wintry Melbourne skies.
The AFL are live streaming most matches. Click here for their main page. Below is the feed for the big men's Division One match between two of the favourites, PNG and Ireland. Best to open directly in Youtube for the best view.
A bright early start saw the nations start arriving outside the gates of Government House from around 8.30am. Some were more punctual than others. In a myriad of team colours, the buzz grew as the time to head in through the gates. Some started to sing, South Africa as usual sounding the sweetest, but others gave it a shot.
The new nations were there too looking like nervous schoolkids. Germany, European Crusaders and Sri Lanka all stepping out on the footy world stage in Melbourne for the first time. The GB Swans and Pakistani women new too, but had their experienced men's teams on hand to give confidence.
While the Papua New Guinea mens team - the Mosquitos - are the reigning champions the story is somewhat different for their female compatriots - the Flames - who are making a return to the International Cup after participating in the first ever women's division in 2011. In that competition the Flames were out gunned by the Irish, Canadian and US sides. The sole victory over the Australian Indigenous and Multicultural side. 6 years on and the Flames will be looking to make their presence more well known on the field.
The Fiji Vonu have the potential to go to the final dance in this years Womens division. The Vonu have been training and preparing for IC17 since the completion of IC14. After a disappointing IC14, the Vonu are out to prove that Fiji here to compete and win the division.
A vast number of players are returning to their second International Cup and therefore will have the experience to lead the team to the final. Ilisapeci Vateitei takes the Captaincy this year after a strong showing of leadership and development over the last three years. Ilisapeci is also the sister of Fiji Tribe superstar Jiuta Vateitei.
The 2017 international Cup will see Pakistan competing once again as the Shaheens, a team that was to be selected from across Pakistan and not so much as the 2014 Pakistan Shaheens who were largely Melbourne based Pakistani nationals.
Unfortunately though, only four of the players training in Pakistan were granted visas. Another five that as far as we know were not part of the training squad in Pakistan have also made the trip as part of the team.
2017 will see Pakistan competing as the Shaheens (though it was earlier suggested the Dragoons would be the name), a team selected from across Pakistan in the AFL Pakistan. The Pakistan women's team will definitely be developmental as it has been in operation for less than one year.
The team is made up of athletes that have variously competed in numerous sports before coming to the Australian game. While the team has been working towards the International Cup, confirmation of their attendance and obtaining visas came very close to tournament kickoff.
Hi !!! My name is Zuber Baig. Yes, I am from Mumbai, Maharashtra - that's in India - and my favourite club back in India is the Maharashtra Giants.
2. How many years have you been involved in Australian Rules football?
So I have started in 2012, then I represented my state team - Maharashtra Giants - in 2013 and in 2014 I was shortlisted for the AFL India team for IC14. I am glad again to be a part of team in IC17 as well.
3. What is your favourite or best playing position?
My favourite position is Full-Forward (because I love scoring goals) back in India but now I am playing as a back pocket this time in IC17.
Join Carlton legend Percy Jones (249 games and three premierships) and take in the atmosphere of a traditional Melbourne corner pub, with superb dining room, real fires, lots of Fitzroy Football Club and Carlton Football Club art and photos. This is a genuine, time-honoured Melbourne lunch experience.
Hosted by John Harms, writer and champion luncher.
Where: North Fitzroy Arms Hotel, 296 Rae St, North Fitzroy When: Friday, August 11 Time: 12.30pm
Three courses for $40
Drinks at bar prices