Contributed by: Peter Parry
As reported in The Age, Melbourne, on 8 December, the AFL has contingency plans for the under-17 Australian team, if the GAA pulls the plug on International Rules for both senior and under-17 competition between Ireland and Australia - contingency plans being a tour instead to South Africa.
This may happen as early as this weekend with the GAA Central Council meeting at Croke Park, however the Belfast Telegraph suggests the GAA will delay a final decision until after meeting with the AFL in Dubai in January.
Although calls to scrap the series have been loud across several Irish counties since the rough scenes at Croke Park in November, strong lobbying by the Irish players to keep the series has improved chances of continuation.
As reported in the Belfast Telegraph on December 8th (towards the end of the article):
..."Meanwhile, tomorrow's Central Council meeting is expected to debate the International Rules series but no firm decision on the continuing link with the Australian Football League is anticipated.
Instead, a decision is likely to be put on hold.
It seems that just about everyone within the GAA has had their say on the violence that marred the second Rules test last month but the outpouring of disgust was tempered when a survey of leading players indicated that many of them are in favour of seeing the series extended.
It's not to often that the views of players are taken into account on major issues but it would appear that the players opinions on this matter do actually count for something.
However, that does not disguise the fact that there are a number of aspects of the Rules to be addressed.
It is expected that top-ranking GAA officials and AFL chiefs will meet in Dubai next month during the Allstars tour there for general discussions."
The AFL's contingency plans, if they come about, could be a great boost to footy in South Africa. Having an international dimension is a necessary criteria for funding from the Australian Institute of Sport for the AFL's youth elite talent development. Whatever happens within the GAA, the AFL seems to be of the opinion these days that Australian Football needs an international dimension.
The report from Emma Quayle at The Age, original story here.
Teens to tour S Africa if Ireland scrapped Emma Quayle December 8, 2006
THE Australian Institute of Sport-AFL Academy will tour South Africa next year should the annual youth series against Ireland be scrapped with the senior version.
The country's best under-17 players would travel for two weeks at Easter under the emergency plans, which will kick in should Ireland's Gaelic Athletic Association choose to sever ties with the AFL after a meeting this weekend.
The AFL has devised the contingency plan to satisfy the AIS, which has helped fund the academy program for its 10 years, on the proviso that it includes an element of international competition.
The proposed trip would have the team play a senior WAFL side before leaving Australia, as a curtain raiser for the round-two match between West Coast and Collingwood, and another upon returning. The team would train in South Africa, where interest in Australian football has rapidly grown and where the AFL is soon to appoint a football operations manager, before playing one or two games against the best of that country's players. The AFL's general manager of game development, David Matthews, said planning for next year's trip to Ireland was well advanced.
He hoped that, whatever decision the GAA made about the future of international rules would still allow the youth series to go ahead.
But he said the success of the indigenous team taken to South Africa this year — from which five players were picked at last month's national draft — proved it had strong developmental benefits.
"We know football's rapidly emerged over there, but it's still obviously a very low base. We don't expect that in the short term there's going to be equal competition, but we'd make age concessions and a few other concessions, with a view to lessoning those concessions over time," Matthews said.
"It's a great country and there's some great experiences we could put the young players through, but at the moment, both the GAA and AFL have committed to a lot of things for April and my view is that it, no matter what else happens, it would be great to see that through."
Retired Brisbane captain Michael Voss joined the academy for its nine-day camp in Canberra this week, having been appointed as one of Alan McConnell's assistant coaches, with Leon Harris and Jason McCartney.
Robert Hyde will emerge from a brief retirement to coach the under-18 Vic Country team at next year's national championships.
Hyde coached the Calder Cannons to five grand finals and three premierships in his 11 years at the TAC Cup club and will replace Harris, who has been appointed as Football Victoria's high performance coach.
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