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.
The 2006 Barassi Youth Tournament wrapped up last week, but here are some more photos of the young international footballers involved, and a great letter from the parents of an Australian player which sums up the spirit of the event. We also report on some of the stories in the local Canberra press.
In a sudden burst of enthusiasm for the international growth of Aussie Rules both Geelong and Port Adelaide's coaches have spoken positively about the sport getting a foothold outside of Australia. Mark "Bomber" Thompson, coach of the Cats, speaking ahead of his club's match in London against Port, singled out China as a highly desirable market to push into, speculating that his club may play there next year (presumably against Melbourne). There's also an online poll WFN readers may be interested in answering.
The British Bulldogs have named their squad to take on Ireland as the warmup to this weekend's AFL exhibition match between Geelong and Port Adelaide at The Oval in London. The squad will again be captained by IC veteran John Boyle and features ten players from the Bulldogs team which toured Melbourne last year.
The Arafura Games, held every two years in Darwin, represents the only opportunity Aussie Rules footballers have to be a part of a large-scale multi-sport international sporting event. At the 2005 Arafura Games, over 3000 athletes from 32 nations competed in 30 sports, and from the 12 - 19 May 2007 it is set to happen all over again. In the past it has featured several international footy sides and games organisers are now encouraging Aussie Rules teams from across Asia Pacific and beyond to be part of the amazing atmosphere.