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.
In the curtain-raiser to the AFL's London exhibition match between Geelong and Port Adelaide, the British Bulldogs took the field for their only international match this year against Ireland, the traditional powerhouses of European Aussie Rules. The match saw the Irish get away to a very quick start, holding the British goalless until half-time. The Bulldogs dominated the second half however, getting back within 16 points midway through the last quarter. The match was stopped shortly thereafter when Britain's Jonny Dickson was stretchered off the ground, final margin a 22-point win to Ireland.
The fourth annual Bali 9s Tournament was held on October 8th with home-town heroes the Bali Geckos sneaking home in a thrilling grand final victory over the Malaysian Warriors.
The Bali 9's remains a unique fixture on the Asian Footy calendar. It provides the only opportunity for Asian and Australian Aussie Rules Teams to play each other, attracting a number of touring Aussie sides since 2002, including the Western Whalers, Bateman's Bay Sea Hawks, Balmain Tigers and Keysborough Wombats.
This year sees the first ever night test of International Rules to be played at Pearse Stadium, Galway to contest the Cormac McAnallen Cup. The game, scheduled for Saturday October 28, 2006 has been sold out since early in the week, with a capacity crowd of 30,000 expected.
As reported earlier, due to the scheduled night game in Galway, this has ensured an excellent timeslot and for the first time, an Australia vs Ireland match will be televised free to air at the same time in all of the the major cities, including Sydney and Brisbane, which to date have received red eye telecasts.
The AFL's scholarship program for young talent in NSW/ACT commences in 2007, with clubs already allowed to sign up players (see NSW apprenticeship scheme in full swing). Recently General Manager Game Development, David Matthews, released details of the much anticipated equivalent for international juniors. Here we discuss the rules of the program with AFL Talent and International Manager Kevin Sheehan (including details not widely reported), gauge his thoughts after a recent trip to South Africa, and ponder whether the new scholarship scheme will have an immediate effect on AFL recruiting strategies.
The inaugural Tri-Nations series held between Denmark, Sweden and Germany in 2006 had mixed results. The best that can be said is that all three matches did go ahead and no Australians played. The results, however, left quite a bit to be desired.