The South African developmental footy squad touring Australia touched down in Darwin, Northern Territory last Sunday 4th February. After a busy Monday it was off to Jabiru to play their first game game of the tour, against the Indigenous Youth Squad. The visitors proved competitive in losing by 30 points and would be reasonably satisfied with their first hit-out. Two more matches are scheduled, one in Darwin and the other in Perth - full details follow.
The first match of the newly overhauled AZAFL for 2007 was played on Saturday Feb 3rd between the Devils and Dingos. The league will consist of three teams vying for the title this year, with two teams competing and the third team handling field setup and officiating each round. This report supplied to us by John ‘Pops’ Meier
Late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLI, the Indianapolis Colts' American punter Hunter Smith kicked a 32 yard drop punt to hold the Chicago Bears deep in their own end of the field. Commentator Phil Simms described Smith as holding the ball perfectly straight up and down and kicking so that it looked like a "kick off" (that is, the ball span end over end). "Aussie Rules" also got a mention when commentator Jim Nanz described the Bears' quarterback Rex Grossman's difficulty taking the snap in the wet conditions as being like an Aussie Rules game. With three Australians punting in the NFL including All-Pro Matt McBriar and possibly Sav Rocca following soon, NFL games are likely to see more drop punts. One has to wonder if the "banana" will make an appearance.
Football in the US is now over ten years old. The game is still currently evolving and trying to settle on workable formats. Clubs seem to ebb and flow in terms of their player and financial strengths and their ultimate strategies can change as they gain more experience of football life. Over the last two years the MAAFL looked like it was settling down with a pretty solid group of clubs competing for their Championship, but after rumours of changes over the offseason, more details of a new structure have been revealed, including greater flexibility and a possible new club.
We've also got further information from Atlanta's Wayne Kraska about the reasons for the change to the structure (an update since article first published).
United Arab Emirates newspaper the Gulf News reported on January 28th this year that the AFL are currently planning a match between AFL clubs Collingwood and Adelaide in the second week of February 2008 in the UAE city of Dubai, home to Collingwood's major sponsor Emirates Airlines, around 15,000 expatriate Australians and the newly-formed Dubai Dingoes footy club. An AFL match in Dubai has been mooted on a number of occasions, but this appears to be the closest it's come to happening to date.
Like Canada’s population, its Australian Football sides (past and present) are spread out in three areas, Southwestern British Columbia, the Edmonton-Calgary corridor and between Windsor and Quebec, where the majority of Canadians reside. The new Ottawa Swans side is trying to expand on the latter and so far are having a great deal of success. Ottawa is Canada’s capital and combined with outlying areas in both Ontario and Quebec, the National Capital Region is home to 1.1 million people.
Canada's new coach, Mark Block, has posted on the AFL Canada website his summary of the Northwind's trip down to Texas to take on the USA. Although his team went down by 26 points, a fairly large margin in a low scoring game, Block's report remains positive about the players' efforts and is obviously seen as just one step on the longer journey.
Photos from 2007's first major international are also available at Phototainable, the website of semi-professional photographer Edward Habgood, who captured some of the action at the match, including those pictured in this story.
Many of the great names in Australian Football are not Anglo names consistent with Australia's largest migration contributor, England. A great number of the game's stars have been first, second or third generation Aussies whose recent family tree consist of languages other than English. Players from the past like Alex Jesaulenko and current champs like Anthony Koutoufides have made the sport their own. In the last couple of years the AFL has increasingly encouraged Australia's diverse migrant community to embrace Aussie Rules, as has happened in the past to a large extent without official involvement. A useful tool in this process is a simple introduction to the game in 17 different languages.
The AFL Australian Institute of Sport youth tour to South Africa in April, discussed in our recent story South Africa target 28000 players by 2010, youth Test match confirmed, will feature the first fully representational juniors match between the two countries. The 2006 Indigenous tour saw an Aboriginal selection play two Australian Football matches against the South Africans and one International Rules game. The hybrid game has many supporters but also many who are less than keen to see the game played. The opinions of WFN writers undoubtedly varies, but I suspect all would agree that where Australian Football is an option it should be played. So when the forthcoming match was announced we were keen to check that the game will indeed be what we affectionately call footy. The response from AFL South Africa's CEO, Jean Verster: "Aussie Rules for sure". That will bring a smile to a lot of faces.
Saverio Rocca, who finished his AFL career last year with North Melbourne with the aim of playing NFL football has been offered a non guaranteed contract by the Philadelphia Eagles. He earlier tried out with the Buffalo Bills, but now will compete with the Eagles' current Punter in the preseason for the punting spot.
Saturday January 20th saw the seventh meeting of US Revolution and the Canadian Northwind in the 49th Parallel Cup, held for the first time in Houston, Texas. This was the first of two games between the two teams in 2007 as both countries prepare for Melbourne 2008. In wet and blustery conditions that could only be described as “perfect Melbourne weather” (for winter at least), the Revos easily accounted for the Northwind, 4.10 (34) to 1.2 (8).
Later today the United States national Australian Football side, the Revolution, take on Canada's Northwind in the first international for 2007. Despite often being very competitive, the northerners have never managed to defeat the Stars and Stripes in Aussie Rules. The following is a press release from AFL Canada's Bill Frampton, previewing the match from the Northwind's perspective, including the squad and some history of their past meetings. WFN believes that the match will see the debut of several new players, including Vancouver's young gun Scott Fleming, probably the first "graduate" of the successful North Delta Junior AFL. The lineup also features players from Ontario's 2006 debut club, the Central Blues.