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Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan

International Rules
THE VIRGIN Australia International Rules Series has an exciting future, says AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.

He spoke after arriving in Dublin to watch the Test match at Croke Park on Saturday night, and dismissed critics of the venture, saying such concepts demonstrated the game's desire to be ambitious and aspirational.

The squad trained on Wednesday at Croke Park after arriving in a damp and windy Dublin on Tuesday following five days in New York.

McLachlan, who is due to meet formally with the Gaelic Athletic Association on Friday, said it was important the AFL was never insular in its thinking.

"I like the concept of representing the game," he said.

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"I like our best players being able to come and play together. I like them to be able to go and travel and see new cultures and have different experiences. I like them to forge friendships with the Irish. I like our relationship with the GAA.

"I think it [the concept] shows an ambition and aspiration that we want in our game."

McLachlan said the AFL did not shy away from the fact it put on a disappointing show in 2013 and had to revamp the series to ensure the best Australian players were taking on Ireland's best.

He said the revamp had "certainly reignited the passion in our playing group generally for this series and this contest".

While there were critics in Australia, the AFL was not perturbed.

"It is cost neutral for us in a two-year cycle but I am prepared to invest in this beyond that," McLachlan said.

"We give the opportunity for players to aspire to represent their country, for the ability to come and learn off the Irish and learn from different cultures," McLachlan said.

"I think you have got to look beyond where you are currently now and look at where you might be able to go and what might the possibilities be, and I think this is an important for our game in that sense."

McLachlan said he liked the idea of playing a game in New York but he needed to discuss the issue with the GAA on Friday.

On Wednesday, the players went to the Croke Park museum before training and had the rich history of the GAA and its links to the country's independence explained.

They were also reminded that the game is being played on the 95th anniversary of Sunday Bloody Sunday, when 14 people died at Croke Park after British soldiers entered the ground and opened fire.

A player, Michael Hogan, was killed in the incident and has the Hogan stand named after him.

Australia tuned up with a 60-minute run on Croke Park on Wednesday as the skies cleared with officials hoping for a crowd of between 50-60,000 people to attend on Saturday night.

The game will be televised live into Australia on Sunday morning.

Originally Published: Peter Ryan in Dublin afl.com.au


Pictures: Getty Images
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Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, November 23 2015 @ 11:10 pm ACDT

"ambitious and aspirational", but we're yet to see details of in which direction? Purely IR?

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan
Authored by: Cam Homes on Monday, November 23 2015 @ 11:52 pm ACDT

Yes! Questionable whether the IR series actually promotes Aussie Rules even in Ireland, tho I did notice the team (they were once dubbed "Galahs") did train with some of the New York Magpies whilst on the stopover there.

Would be interesting to see the level of contact made with the ARFLI and AFL Europe by Gillon McLachlan whilst in the region and whether any thing is being done to restart the 'Easter Series' at Legion and/or Titan level.

I guess that the 30,000 plus gate would recover some of the cost that the AIS/AFL Easter Series would never be able to generate.

Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan
Authored by: Harley Vague on Tuesday, November 24 2015 @ 12:51 am ACDT

I believe the AFL have stated their desires that being multiple tests including N.Y. As as a person who generally enjoys the IR series I can see the rationale of leverage off of of these games. However, when the GAA disagree, any leverage is lost. It was hard gaining momentum with only two tests let alone the current single test. The only organised game of AR was gazetted for London. Surely a clinic in N.Y. and Dublin would have been the minimum especially when the N.Y. GAA hit out was cancelled.
When the ARFLI burst onto the scene they soon became the number one AR side outside of Australia because their of players experience with GAA but that hasn't translated into much growth.
IMO (and I must stress that) it seems the Irish want to restrict the impact of these games to just entertainment value and remove any potential for the AFL to leverage any growth of Australian Football.
If you take a good look at the product that is IR then you will not find any common AR scenarios.
It is impossible to kick the round ball long and accurately thus reducing the game to chipping.
It is diffifult to judge the flight of the round and mark it.
Handballing has a different feel and is restricted.
Running is grealy restricted as well as posession.
There is virtualy no rucking, no place for ruckmen and yet the team is selected from the best players of AR not necessarily the best attributes for GAA.
And let's face it, it is a GAA field with GAA positions down to a goal keeper.
There are restrictions on picking up the ball, tackling and with shepherding penalised.
The series may have the right mix to achieve a competitive result and it's a showcase of top footballers but it is in need of an angle.
It needs to be a clash of cultures, an arm wrestle and a series with a climax not just a piece of entertainment.

Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan
Authored by: Cam Homes on Tuesday, November 24 2015 @ 01:10 pm ACDT

Have to agree with most of what you say, Harley.

The IR games at least gives the best AR players in Australia a chance to play for their country (even tho not in footy) as happens in all other sports/codes across the world.

Obviously the pro v amatuer standard 'chasm' doesn't allow International matches by Australia other than at AIS/AFL - Secondary Schools age-group level, which is why I believe the Easter Series style age matches must be restarted and even expanded (why not a 'tour' to Canada & USA) if the standard of AR's outside Australia is going to be lifted at all.

Look at how the margin between the teams in the 3 or 4 Easter series matches played so far narrowed each time. Does suggest that the standard in Europe was improving as more players were exposed to the elite juniors from Aussie.

Certainly the IR matches will not do anything to lift the standard of play elsewhere where Aussie rules is played, and as you say Harley even in Ireland.

Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan
Authored by: Harley Vague on Tuesday, November 24 2015 @ 03:22 pm ACDT

I believe the "chasm" has been largely bridged by the increasing "professional" approach of the GAA, the selection of AA players and the timing of the game at the end of the only AFL break. Typically the Aussies only manage to come home late in the game with superior endurance. With the GAA vs AFL IRS we have a structure that is popular based on the appearance of national players. The cluttered nature of the game is largely overlooked. Any move away from high profile players would require building support for the concept itself. In that regard IMO there is a need to strip the game of it's clutter to a simpler game. Such a game would have social potential and be possibly good for development but just like 9-a-side is great for development it would be counter-productive at AIS level to play games that encourage bad habits.

Irish Series Shows AFL’s Ambition: McLachlan
Authored by: Cam Homes on Wednesday, November 25 2015 @ 02:28 pm ACDT

          The player standard "chasm" is between the best/elite professional Australian players versus the best amatuer players that the other nations put on the park at the International Cup, the European Championships and other 'internationals' eg. USA v Canada or Denmark v Sweden etc. Sorry to have led you astray there a bit, Harley, my ramblings are not as lucid as they used to be. :-)

Inter Rules is doing nothing to close/bridge that gap/chasm/Grand Canyon, but I do believe that the previously metioned 'Easter Series' between the AFL/AIS age teams versus European Legion and Titans was doing so, even if very slowly. As has the age-group level and Boomerang 'tours' to South Africa have helped lift the playing standard in South Africa over time.

Brett questioned the use of the terms 'inspirational and ambitious' as used by Gillon McLachlan in reference to the AFL (world ruling body)and AFL (the code Aussie Rules) "we want in our game". I think McLachlan also mentioned that  Irish Inter Rules matches are "cost neutral".

I think if the AFL (wrb) truly wants to be seen as 'ambitious and inspirational' it would better off restarting the "Easter Series" tours and even expanding that age-group concept even tho this would not be "cost neutral". I also have this sneaking suspicion that is what Brett had in mind. :-)

x%/$#&##*& woops!! Brett might have just shot me down in flames :-)