Great Britain national Australian rules football team

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Great Britain
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Union AFL England
Nickname(s) The Bulldogs, The Swans
First international
Denmark Denmark 93 – 25United Kingdom Great Britain
A Great Britain player manages to get a kick away despite being tackled by a Nauruan opponent during the 2008 Australian Football International Cup

The Great Britain National Australian Rules Football team is known as the British Bulldogs.[2][3] The team is made up of the best British born players selected from the clubs of AFL Britain affiliated competitions in England, Wales and Scotland. Generally professional AFL players (such as in Brad Moran and Will Thursfield) are ineligible due to either learning the game in Australia or not being released by their respective clubs.

The Bulldogs were coached by Mark Pitura until 2015, former Richmond, Essendon and Collingwood player after former coach Charlie Kielty resigned in June 2009. Charlie took over from Matt Connell (Adelaide Crows) after the 2005 exhibition match at the Oval.

The Bulldogs are currently coached by Dean Thomas [4] and in early 2016 Great Britain announced the formation of The Swans – GB's female Australian Rules Football team.[5] The Swans are currently coached by England Men's Assistant Coach Garth Nevin [6]


Although the team represents the island of Great Britain rather than the whole of the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland forming part of a cross-border Ireland Team), the Bulldogs wear the colours of the union flag.


The Bulldogs have participated in the Australian Football International Cup held in Melbourne finishing 6th in both 2002 and 2005 as well as the Atlantic Alliance Cup in 2001.

In October 2005, the Bulldogs played against Ireland in a curtain raiser at the West Coast Eagles vs Fremantle exhibition match at the Oval in London.

In October 2006, the Great Britain vs Ireland fixture was repeated before the Geelong Football Club vs Port Adelaide Power match. Although defeated once more by an opposition primarily composed of seasoned gaelic football player, the development of the squad continues and there are many encouraging signs of improvement in the British game.

2007 saw the team travel to Ireland to take on the Irish side, on their home turf. The victory saw them dubbed as the unofficial European Champions.

In 2008 the highly improved team were considered by some to be a chance for the finals of the International Cup, however their defeat at the hands of Nauru (who they had beaten by a goal in 2005) put them out of contention.

The coaching role switched to ex-pro Mark Pitura and England Dragonslayers coach Rob Fielder as assistant in late 2009, after a defeat away in Ireland was the last match of Charlie Kielty's coaching. The first test was against a travelling Denmark Vikings squad, which resulted in a 76–63 win for the Bulldogs.

In 2010, the squad competed in the inaugural European Championships in Denmark and Sweden, but due to the tournament dates, were unable to field an experienced squad, fielding a team with only 1 player with Bulldogs caps (Captain, Adam Bennett). The squad achieved a credible 4th place, losing out to losing finalists Denmark in the group and co-hosts Sweden in the qualification final. This was the first time that many of the squad had played full oval footy and this development would be key in recruiting and developing a squad for the 2011 International Cup.

In 2011 the Bulldogs finished 7th at an expanded International Cup competing against 17 other nations from around the world.

A marked improvement in performance culminated in a fantastic performance at the 2013 AFL Europe Championships, where the squad were runners up to hosts Ireland, the current European and International champions.[7]

In 2014 the Bulldogs where placed in Pool A alongside Ireland, Nauru, Fiji, France and Indonesia. Victories over France and Fiji were achieved and Great Britain finished 9th overall.[8][9]

Great Britain are currently ranked 11th in the World Rankings which are led by New Zealand.

The start of 2016 has been an exciting one for Great Britain with the launch of the Great Britain Swans. The Swans will bring the best female players we have to offer from the England Vixens, Scottish Sirens, Wales and Northern Ireland. The squad will make their inaugural appearance at AFL Europe’s Champions League in Amsterdam and then will be working alongside the Great Britain Bulldogs in their preparation for the European Championships and International Cup.

2016 was a successful year for the Bulldogs and the Swans. Both teams became champions of Europe beating Ireland in both their respective finals. The Swans beat Ireland 1.2.8 to 0.2.2 and the Bulldogs knocking off Ireland 7.9.51 to 4.5.29 [10]

Notable players[edit]

Great Britain's Best and Fairest player at the 2001 Atlantic Alliance cup was Tyrone Hallam. The Bulldog's Best and Fairest player at the 2005 International Cup was Vincent Carey. The squad was captained by Johnathan Boyle at the 2008 International Cup. 2010 saw three Great British players picked for Team Europe at the first European Championships, held in Denmark and Sweden. These players are Adam Bennett (Reading Kangaroos) and Martyn Hinchey (Southampton Titans) and Gareth Blackstaffe-Turner (Wimbledon Hawks). At the 2011 International Cup, Paul Harris from the Putney Magpies will captained the squad at the 2011 International Cup. Brendan McGeever (North London Lions), Ian Mitchell (Wolverhampton Wolves) and Paul Francis (Wimbledon Hawks) served as vice-captains.

In 2016, GB player, Sam Willatt was selected for Footscray Bulldogs VFL side.[11][12]

In 2017, Oliver Hobin from buuurminguum will make his international debut, becoming the largest headed player ever to struggle to pull on the GB jersey.

International competition[edit]

International Cup[edit]

European championships[edit]

  • 2010: 4th[13]
  • 2013: 2nd
  • 2016: Champions [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Rankings Matches – World Footy News". 
  2. ^ "Ireland edge out Great Britain in nailbiting AFL Europe Championship final". Australian Times. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  3. ^ "AFL Community: Great Britain". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  4. ^ "GB Bulldogs Team Management – AFL England". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  5. ^ "AFL England Launch GB Swans". 
  6. ^ "GB Swans Coaching Team Announced – AFL England". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  7. ^ "Ireland edge out Great Britain in nailbiting AFL Europe Championship final". Australian Times. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  8. ^ "IC14 preview: GB Bulldogs | AFL Europe". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  9. ^ "International Cup Preview: Great Britain". Footy Industry. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Drennan, Jonathan (2016-03-25). "The Brit who went from Aussie Rules novice to the verge of an AFL career". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  12. ^ "Footscray squad announced –". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  14. ^

External links[edit]