The New Zealand's national Australian rules football team, nicknamed the Falcons are selected from the best New Zealand born and developed players, primarily from the clubs of the New Zealand AFL. Although there are New Zealand born professional players in the AFL (including Trent Croad, Adam Campbell and Brent Renouf) they are generally ineligible for selection.
The team were International champions between 2005-2008 having won the 2005 Australian Football International Cup, but defeated by Papua New Guinea in 2008 and considered a distant second to Australia in the sport.
Also (like the All Blacks), the team wears an all black guernsey with the silver fern, a national symbol of New Zealand.
The Falcons are the modern version of the team that defeated both New South Wales and Queensland at the Jubilee Australasian Football Carnival. Australian Football was seldom played in New Zealand between 1908 and 1974.
New Zealand was reintroduced to international Australian Football at the Arafura Games in 1995. The team also competed in the 1997 and 1999 games, winning the Silver medal in each year of the competition as runners up to Papua New Guinea.
The team competed in the inaugural 2002 Australian Football International Cup finishing in 3rd place.
Warming up for the 2005 International Cup, the Falcons played a touring Maffra (from the strong Victorian Country Football League in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia) at Manurewa in New Zealand but were defeated by 70 points, dulling expectations of the team's appearance in the next international event, but at the same time displaying the massive disparity between the competitive level of the sport in the two countries.
However with the growing popularity of Aussie Rules in New Zealand, the much improved 2005 New Zealand International Cup side went through the competition undefeated, claiming the title of International Champions by defeating Papua New Guinea in the Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, effectively claiming the title from previous winners Ireland. The team took most by surprise and no other side was able to come close to winning against them.
The Falcon's best and fairest player (from the 2005 International Cup) was Matthew Callaghan.
Following the overwhelming success of the team's 2005 International Cup appearance, the Falcons were invited to play at the Australian Country Championships in 2006 to be held on the Gold Coast. The qualification rules of this competition are more lenient, and the Falcons were able to play non New Zealand born players to make them competitive against Australian sides from country leagues. The Falcons were not successful at the event, losing heavily to Queensland, by 9 points to Victoria B and by 63 points to the Indigenous All-Stars.
Warming up for the 2008 cup, New Zealand were once again convincingly defeated by Maffra. The team, however went on to win all of its first 3 rounds by massive margins, leading its pool by a massive percentage to play off in the finals against Ireland, Papua New Guinea and South Africa. Though the Falcons lost to a determined Papua New Guinea in the Grand Final. Richard Bradley was the tournament's equal leading goalkicker with Canada's Scott Fleming and was one of three New Zealanders selected in the All-International (world) team.
|Number||Name||Club||Height (cm)||Weight (kg)|
|1||Mitchell Mace||Hamilton Tuis||176||74|
|2||Liam Ackland||Mt Roskill Saints||176||65|
|3||Scott McNally||Old Melburnians (VAFA)||185||84|
|4||Michael Boyce||Mt Roskill Saints||166||60|
|5||James Monaghan||University Blues||171||88|
|6||Geoffrey Thomas (VC)||Eastern Blues||174||75|
|7||Morgan Jones (VC)||University of Queensland AFC||179||79|
|8||Paul Gunning||Warnbro Swans||171||79|
|9||Andrew Congalton (C)||Takapuna Eagles||184||94|
|10||Marcus Jones||Mt Roskill Saints||180||79|
|11||James Bowden||Eastern Blues||184||89|
|12||John Maling||Waitakere Magpies||180||59|
|13||Lewis Hurst||Mt Roskill Saintes||179||85|
|14||Andrew Buckthought||University Blues||176||87|
|15||David Rattenbury||Waitakere Magpies||184||76|
|16||David Cory-Toussaint||University Blues||188||85|
|17||Richie Marsden||Eastern Blues||187||104|
|19||Andrew Crighton||North Shore Tigers||180||90|
|20||Andriu Sucu||North Shore Tigers||185||79|
|21||Nic Cunneen||North Shore Tigers||187||91|
|23||Matthew Callaghan||Thornlie Lions||194||96|
|24||Luke Kneebone||Hamilton Mavericks||178||88|
|26||Richard Bradley||Eastern Blues||192||90|
|27||Sam Whitehead||Ashburton Eagles||195||113|
|28||Matthew Van Wijk||Hamilton Mavericks||170||75|
|29||Graham Rattenbury||Eastern Bulldogs||176||79|
|30||Shane Browne||Eastern Blues||176||84|
|31||Matt Crighton||North Shore Tigers||185||85|
|33||Aaron Harris||University Cougars||184||89|
|34||Jared Court||Eastern Blues||180||94|
|35||Moss Doran||Sth Warrnambool Roosters||192||95|