Champions Trophy history: Jamie Dwyer and Australian dominance
Between 2008 and 2012, Australia won the Champions Trophy five times in a row. The Kookaburras have, in fact, taken what might be considered the most difficult hockey trophy, a total of 14 times.
by Sander Collewijn
Pakistan may have invented the competition and won it the first two years, but it is Australia who have come to dominate the event with 14 wins to their name. Germany is next in the list with 10 titles, followed by the Netherlands on eight. ‘As a country we are pretty isolated in terms of location, so we could not wait for the competition to begin and to measure ourselves against serious opposition,’ says Dywer, who is returning to his homeland after a string of successful seasons at Dutch club Bloemendaal. ‘The six best countries in the world play each other over eight days. You need to be really fit,’ says Dwyer, who has been crowned best player in the world five times. ‘And we were. The format fits Australian hockey perfectly. We had the best and the fittest team in the world, and one that worked the hardest.’ Australia took more titles than just the Champions Trophy in Rotterdam, Melbourne, Mönchengladbach, Auckland and Melbourne again: the haul also included the Olympic title in 2004 and the World title in 2010 and 2014.
The seeds of this success were planted prior to the 2000 Olympics, says Dwyer. ‘A lot of money was invested in the sport and we could bring in scientists to help us. We worked with heart monitors and ice baths well before anyone else. The rest of the hockey world followed years later.’
The Australians also focused on training wide group of players as potential internationals. ‘There were 45 of us training, every day,’ he says. ‘We created a super competitive situation in Perth, in which everyone had to fight for their place every session. That worked for us. At that time, we were at the top.’
Just as the Dutch and German style of playing football has influenced hockey – with a lot of emphasis on tactics and ball possession – so too has Australian Rules Football helped shape the Australian way of playing hockey, he says: ‘That is where the high intensity of our way of playing comes in.’
Dwyer has more than 350 caps for Australia and has scored over 230 goals in international competition. He also helped Bloemendaal take the Dutch title four times as part of an unbeatable team that included Teun de Nooijer. Despite this illustrious career, the Champions Trophy remains his favourite.
‘Of all the tournaments I have played, the Champions Trophy is the best. I just love it,’ he says. ‘It was the high point of the year… every year it was like a personal test of how good you were as a hockey player. You had to be fit, you had to be sharp. The conditions were tough. But it was a brilliant competition. I am going to miss it.’