IC 2008 - Hands up for Division 1?
With the IC 2008 now less than a year away, 18 international teams are in active discussion with the AFL about taking part, with a further 3 Melbourne-based migrant community teams under consideration.
One of the big changes in the IC 2008 will be the division of the competition into "Premier" and "Developmental" divisions, pitting the more established sides against each other, while giving the newer teams on the block a fairer playing field.
While nothing is yet finalised, discussion between the AFL and international leagues is slowly creating a likely picture of who'll end up in which division.
Assuming an end total of 16 teams, each division will feature two pools of four teams each - allowing 3 pool matches and 2 finals for each side over the course of the competition. This relies on a few factors falling into place, so there's still the possibility of teams being split 10-6 between divisions, and an outside possibility of having to revert to an "all-in" setup if a number of teams pull out.
While readers should note that this list is not in any way final, the current frontrunners for division one are:-
Papua New Guinea
The sides most likely to make up division two are:-
Division two may be joined by Somalia, Sudan and Vietnam.
Other developments include plans to allow up to 8 interchange players, as well as no limit on squad size to maximize participation. Eligibility criteria (no Aussies, application process for "third country" players) are to remain unchanged from the previous International Cups.
The biggest surprise on the above list is India, with former Melbourne great and international Aussie Rules journeyman Brian Dixon recently working hard on the subcontinent and very optimistic about the possibility of an Indian side making the trip.While it will be some months before we know exactly who'll be here (and we'll have a major update in the next few days), the talk is certainly building and we look forward to hearing some debate in the coming months!