Ireland vs Britain in curtain-raiser to London's AFL Challenge
Saturday, September 24 2005 @ 07:21 am ACST
Contributed by: Peter Parry
Ireland's Green Machine will travel to London to take on the British Bulldogs in the curtain-raiser for this year's AFL game at Brit Oval on the 8th October. The AFL match features AFL grand finalists West Coast Eagles taking their Western Australian rivalry to London against the Fremantle Dockers. In the many years of AFL exhibition games at the Oval this is the first time there will be a curtain-raiser involving local footy.
BARFL president, Remon Gazal, extended the invitation for the game to Tony Watene, ARFLI president, soon after the sides returned from the International Cup in Melbourne. As reported by John Enright of ARFLI "we accepted and we're sending a full squad to the game including 3 of our best players that couldn't attend the International Cup. The Ireland coach for the game is Darren Fitzpatrick who was the national team coach when we won the IC2002 and the Atlantic Alliance Cup."
Both teams are using the same selection rules as the International Cup - i.e. no expat Aussies, all players nationals who spent the majority of their teen years in Ireland or Britain. The game starts at 12.40pm and is of 4 x 15 minute quarters. It should be great for the players who by the last quarter are likely to be demonstrating their skills in front of a crowd of over 15,000. With both teams hardened by the recent International Cup, it should also give the crowd food for thought - that Aussie Rules is no longer just a one nation sport. To illustrate this point further the half-time break in the Eagles v Dockers game will see two little league games from the BARFL's junior programme in Reading.
Editor: It's excellent to see the two national sides having the opportunity to play an official international in their own region, keeping the squads together rather than having to wait 3 years to the next International Cup. It's hoped this may become an annual event. Fans should book tickets to the upcoming match ASAP as the game will probably sell out.