Image: Australian hockey team at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games
Apart from the 1950 Auckland Empire Games where countries competed in water polo, team sports would not appear in the Commonwealth Games program until 1998.
Their addition has been a boost to Australia’s success at the Games, winning 15 of the 24 gold medals decided in Games history.
Australia made an immediate impact in team sport at the Games, winning three team gold medals at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
What a tremendous record Australia have in hockey, having won all five men’s gold medals and four of the five women’s golds. There has been just one hiccup, when the Hockeyroos won bronze in 2002. In Manchester, the women suffered an upset 2-1 loss in their semi-final to England – their first loss to England/Great Britain at a major tournament since 1986.
After winning the first two Commonwealth Games gold medals in 1998 and 2002, Australia slipped to silver in 2006 and 2010, but returning to the top of the podium in Glasgow. Only Australia and New Zealand have been finalists over the 16 years. In their first four finals (1998 to 2010) the goal differences between the teams were just 3, 2, 5 and 4 points. In Glasgow it blew out to 18, with Australia winning 58 to 40.
New Zealand dominated the first four men’s rugby sevens tournaments with four straight comfortable wins, but in Glasgow they faulted with South Africa defeating them in the final 17-12. Australia have been on the podium at three Games, winning a silver in 2010 and two bronze medals (1998, 2014).
Women’s Rugby Sevens will make its debut on the Gold Coast and as reigning Olympic champions, hopes are high for an inaugural win by Australia.
Basketball makes its second appearance at the Games on the Gold Coast following its debut in Melbourne in 2006. The inaugural eight-team men’s and women’s tournaments were both won by Australia over New Zealand, with a close battle in the men’s tournament (81-76 points) and a powerhouse display by the women (77-39 points).
DISCONTINUED TEAM SPORTS
As mentioned water polo was held at the 1950 Auckland Empire Games, where Australia defeated New Zealand in a three-match tournament. Famously cricket was held at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. South Africa defeated Steve Waugh’s team by four wickets in the 50-over tournament.