The first International Rules Masters (players over 35 years of age) test was played on October 28th this year at the GAA club in Annaghdown, Galway, Ireland. There was both an A and B squad match, with Ireland winning both games.
The Fitzroy Reds are a strong community football club in Melbourne, playing in the Victorian Amateur Football Association. Originally the third club from Melbourne University, the Reds took on the Fitzroy name after the AFL's Lions moved to Brisbane and now play their matches at Fitzroy's Brunswick St oval, ancestral home of the VFL/AFL Lions.
The Reds have also developed a few international links recently, having some players represent the Melbourne Croats in the Multicultural Cup, a sister-club arrangement with the Atlanta Kookaburras and last October playing a tour match in Tonga against the Tongan national team, the Black Marlins. Although the Reds ran out winners in the game, the locals were far from disgraced, showing great potential in a developing footy nation.
For the first time ever, an Australian women's team have followed the footsteps of the men's Australian International Rules team, setting out to do what the men have since 1998,
test their wares against the Irish Gaelic footballers. The team has just completed a tour of Ireland, with very one sided results in favour of the home side resulting in Ireland taking the inaugural series easily - though not surprisingly given a critical rule difference compared with the men's series.
The second International Rules Test of 2006 has highlighted problems with the series like no other match between the two proud sporting nations. The rancor expressed by both sides has been unprecedented, and it is difficult to reconcile that respected voices from both camps, and indeed their supporters, can view the same incidents with such extremely opposing views.
Recently a group of current and ex-AFL footballers were led around northern Vietnam on a CARE Challenge, visiting CARE projects and meeting local HIV/AIDS sufferers. The culmination of the trip also saw a footy match played between the CARE AFL All Stars and the Hanoi Swans.
The 2006 International Rules Series in Ireland saw Australia retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup, coming from an eight point deficit to win on aggregate in a series embroiled with plenty of controversy, leading to widespread speculation that the annual matches will be scrapped.
The Essendon Football Club is sending seven of its younger players on a personal development trip to Japan this week. As part of the trip, the players and coaching staff will hold clinics in Tokyo and Osaka on behalf of the AFL. Essendon's website also reports that the Essendon staff will be testing the local Japanese players to determine which two will join Essendon for 2007 preseason training.
For some great video of the 2006 US Nationals you can once again go to the MyKwebTV site www.MyKaussie.com. The footage focuses on the Canadian teams at this year's nationals, the Calgary and Vancouver teams, but also features numerous interviews with players and special guests as well as a number of the US teams.
It's time for the crew at WFN to put out another request for assistance. With the steady ebb and flow of work and life commitments of our volunteer reporters we are currently in need of help covering three regions.
Although South Africa has grabbed most of the headlines for international footy development in 2006, there is little doubt that Papua New Guinea is the most advanced country outside of Australia in terms of large numbers of juniors (somewhere in the thousands), a defined elite pathway through AFL Queensland and several adult leagues (also supporting thousands of players) spread across PNG's diverse geography. We've reported on many of their exciting junior development programs, but here we have a look at a range of stories, from the thriving senior leagues that should start to see an influx of talented juniors in the next few years, to HIV prevention programs. Of course at the top governmental level Australia and PNG have exchanged a few unpleasantries in recent times, but hopefully this is just a tiny blip in what has generally been a very friendly relationship.
The second test of International Rules to be played at Croke Park, Dublin to contest the Cormac McAnallen Cup is scheduled for Sunday November 5 at 2pm local time. Tickets have been sold out since just before the first test, with a capacity crowd of around 83,000 expected, which would make it an all-time record crowd for an International Rules match. The current record of 71,532 was set at Croke Park in 2002. A preview and TV and radio schedules follow.
Interest (and belief) in international footy can often seem pretty weak in the Australian media, with the international rules series and international AFL exhibition games coming under fire for being irrelevant or simply a waste of time and money.
The tabloid Herald Sun, Melbourne's largest newspaper, recently ran an article critical of the traditional London match (and an online poll suggested about two-thirds of readers thought the London matches should be stopped), but included a lengthy quote from AFL chief Andrew Demetriou in defence of the idea.