With 14 games played over the last 12 years, the annual China Cup between the Beijing Bombers and Shanghai Tigers continues to grow in stature as one of AFL Asia’s biggest rivalries. With the ledger standing at 7-wins a piece, this year’s match in Beijing will be sure not to disappoint. Here’s what China’s leading English newspaper, the China Daily, had to say about it…

Australian Rules: A fair dinkum clash for bragging rights

By Tym Glaser (chinadaily.com.cn)

The friendly rivalry between China’s two most prominent cities will have a decidedly Australian accent this weekend when the Shanghai Tigers tackle the Beijing Bombers in their annual clash for the Australian Rules China Cup.

Hundreds of Aussie expats and friends are expected to turn up at the Dulwich College sports grounds in northern Beijing to see the one-off battle for the crown the host currently holds after a whopping second-leg victory over the Tigers last year.

The Bombers lost last year’s first game in the southern city by a few points but, at home and boosted by a huge squad and great local support, routed the outclassed Tigers by almost 100 points to reclaim China bragging rights.

However, due to the transient nature of the Australian expat community the match on Saturday is expected to be a much closer affair as the Bombers will be without the services of last year’s man of the match, Andrew ‘Fab’ Sobol and stalwart Steve Zonneveldt.

The teams have met 14 times since 2003 and the ledger stand at 7-7. “The rivalry is very strong. Off the field we are close friends and play together as the China Reds team (in the Asian Championships) but once the game starts this is all forgotten,” said Mic Mittasch, the Bombers’ president.

While the match will predominantly feature Australian players of various skill levels, the Bombers also boast a handful of young Chinese who have adopted the sport while studying Down Under or through local college recruiting drives.

Every sport under the sun is trying to crack the lucrative China market and the unique antipodean team game would seem near the back of the queue, but Mittasch believes it can carve out a niche in this large land.

“There is a strong chance that there will be an all-Chinese team playing in the Asian champs within the next few years,” he said. “Also, before the International Cup in 2017, I would expect some games to be played between the Chinese team and the expat team.”

Coupled with the Austcham Great Aussie Barbie, the gates for the event open at 11:30. Tickets will be available at the ground or online at events@austcham.org.


(Header photo: Michael Pross, taken from Shanghai Tigers facebook page. Article originally posted on the China Daily website here)