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Canterbury AFL

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Canterbury AFL AKA Canterbury Australian Football League (CAFL) is the governing body for AFL in Canterbury, New Zealand.

AFL in New Zealand[1][edit]

AFL in New Zealand has a long history that can date back to the 1860s where many Australians travelled and immigrated to New Zealand. With trade ports booming throughout the country, it is believed that in the early 1900s there were over 100 teams competing in various competitions around New Zealand.

In 1908 the very first New Zealand respective team met and travelled to Australia where they competed in the Jubilee Australasian Football Carnival at the MCG celebrating 50 years of Australian Football. Wearing a gold fern logo on a plain back guernsey, the team beat both New South Wales and Queensland, and the future of AFL in New Zealand looked bright.

However, fast forward 50 years and the combination of WWII, The Depression and rugby becoming the dominant sport in New Zealand signaled a hiatus of AFL in New Zealand. It is widely believed that no clubs survived after WWII.

1974 through to 1999 proved to be a turning point for AFL in New Zealand. During this time, competitions in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland began alongside the creation of the AFL New Zealand – who to this day, remain the governing body of AFL in New Zealand.

The turn of the millennium has seen AFL's popularity in New Zealand explode thanks to the introduction of regional men's, women's, youth and junior competitions alongside a national high-performance pathway for players, officials and support staff.

AFL in Canterbury[1][edit]

The modern era of Australian Football in Canterbury can be traced back to the efforts of George Lanyon. Spurred by hearing that local physical education students were wanting to learn about Australian Rules Football, George decided it was time to establish the game he had left behind in Melbourne in 1963. In 1974 he called a meeting of interested parties by advertising in the local paper, at a cost of $60, resulting in the formation of the Canterbury Australian Rules Football Association, which became known as the CARFA.

Players used to meet at Cuthbert's Green and teams were picked on the day. Soon a rivalry developed between those that used to drink at the Keys Road Band Hall (the Kangas) and those that drank at the Avon Football Club (the Keas). The game attracted the attention of leading sportsmen, such as All Black big man, Jock Ross. Modern day founder of Windflow, Jeff Henderson, also tried and succeeded at Aussie Rules while attending university.

In those days, the best player of the season would earn himself the George Soulous medal, in honour of the man who did great work in promoting and playing the game in the mid-1970s, particularly by reporting the game on Christchurch radio each weekend.

The game had even spread to Ashburton by 1976, kicked along by the Sullivan family, whose boys would play rugby on the Saturday and Aussie Rules on Sunday. According to George Lanyon, they were a formidable team.

In the mid-1970s there was little if any funding for the game so playing tops were initially T-shirts, but later George's wife Margaret hand sewed playing tops for the teams using materials she bought at the local haberdashery. It was a big occasion when the players ran out onto the park sporting their own colours, whether it be the "green and gold" of the Kangas or the "red and black" of the Keas.

As the game began to grow in Christchurch, it attracted the attention of the officials running the game in Australia and soon they provided the Canterbury side with a set of tops, the red and black tops of the Melbourne-based Essendon Football Club. Wearing these colours the Canterbury side competed in NPC carnivals in 1977 and 1978, against Auckland and Wellington and toured Australia in 1978.

In an effort to celebrate and retain the history of Australian Football in Canterbury, a television documentary was produced in 2002. Entitled, "Tight shorts and High Balls", this 30-minute documentary featured interviews with those who were instrumental in sustaining the game, as well as highlights of the past 140-years. This is held in the archives at AFL headquarters in Melbourne.

Quick Facts About Canterbury AFL[1][edit]

  • The Canterbury Australian Football League (CAFL) has been the governing body of AFL in Canterbury, New Zealand since 1974.
  • Four clubs – Christchurch Bulldogs, University Cougars, Eastern Blues, Mid Canterbury Eagles – make up CAFL.
  • Currently, each of the four CAFL clubs only have one team that completes in the annual Senior Premiership.
  • The CAFL Senior Premiership is open to male and female players over the age of 17 years. The Senior Premiership is a nine-round competition with two weeks of finals (semi-final and a grand final).
  • The Canterbury Cobras is the Canterbury Representative Team who completes in the annual National Provincial Champion (NPC) alongside teams from Otago, Wellington and Auckland. The Canterbury Cobras operate both a Men's Senior and Under 20's side.
  • CAFL currently use North Hagley Park in Central Christchurch as their home ground.
  • Alongside of AFL New Zealand, Canterbury AFL is working hard to develop a Junior, Youth and Women competition for the 2020 season.


  1. ^ "About Canterbury Australian Football League". Facebook. Retrieved, February 18, 2020.

External Links[edit]

AFL Official Website

AFL New Zealand Official Website

Canterbury AFL Official Website

Canterbury AFL Official Facebook

Canterbury AFL Official Instagram

Canterbury AFL Official LinkedIn
Category:Sports Category:Australian rules football Category:Australian rules football governing bodies Category:Australian rules football governing bodies outside Australia Category:AFL Category:AFL New Zealand


This article "Canterbury AFL" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Canterbury AFL. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "About Canterbury Australian Football League". Facebook. February 18, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)