Commemorating the anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux that took place during WW1, the men’s and women’s Australian ‘Spirit’ sides go head-to-head with the French national teams to contest the ANZAC Cup. The match honours those Australian’s who fought to reclaim the town from German occupancy on the night of April 24th, 1918, in a victory that was described as the turning point in the war by Sir John Monash.

Villers-Bretonneux had been a key post for the Allies prior to the Germans successfully breaking through defensive lines and taking the town on the 24th as part of their Spring Offensive. This was a considerable victory given the towns vantage point over the city of Amiens which was of significant tactical importance to both sides.

As such, the Australian lead counter-attack was an imperative move to be made and was quickly ordered to commence on the night of the 24th, with the 13th, 14th & 15th brigades waiting for the cover of darkness before launching their response at 10pm local time. Their efforts were successful and the town was handed back to the villagers on April 25th – exactly three years after the landing at Gallipoli – but tragically not before 2,473 Australian lives were lost.

The match is now a focal point in the ‘Australia Week’ celebrations organised by local authorities that recognise this sacrifice made by the Australians who retook Villers-Bretonneux.

Played since 2009, the 32 Australian men and women selected to represent their country in the ANZAC Cup are done so based on their own personal or family connection to the armed forces rather than their specific footballing experience or ability, placing extra importance on the already momentous honour of pulling on the green and gold.

Players are hosted by adoring local families and spend time in the lead up to the game engaging with their opposition by running community footy clinics, sharing a dinner and guernsey presentation, taking part in a street parade and holding a combined training session, before attending the dawn service at the Australian National Memorial where the names of 10,733 Australian’s who lost their lives on the Western Front are listed.

Location: Villers-Bretonneux, France

Date: April 27, 2024

Current Holders: French Coqs (Men), Australian Spirit (Women)

Previous Winners: Men

2009 – Australia by 119 points

2010 – France by 24 points

2011 – Australia by 133 points

2012 – France by 69 points

2013 – France by 41 points

2014 – Australia by 229 points

2015 – Australia by 49 points

2016 – Australia by 85 points

2017 – Australia by 39 points

2018 – Australia by 17 points

2019 – France by 42 points

2020 – Not held

2021 – Not held

2022 – Australia by 2 points

2023 – France by 110 points

2024 – France by 20 points (Tournament website)

Head to Head – Australia 8, France 6

Previous Winners: Women

2016 – Australia by 102 points

2017 – Australia by 43 points

2018 – Australia by 53 points

2019 – Australia by 6 points

2020 – Not held

2021 – Not held

2022 – Australia by 22 points

2023 – Australia by 11 points

2024 – Australia by 110 points (Tournament website)

Head to Head – Australia 7, France 0