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.
Tianjin Normal University, China's first all-Chinese Australian Football team, will take on the all-Australian Beijing Bombers on October 22nd. This will be the first ever China vs Australia game of Aussie Rules Football, to be played at the International School Beijing at 1pm. Five of the best Chinese players from this match will then be sponsored by the Beijing Bombers to join the team for a match against the Shanghai Tigers later this year.
The 2006 US Nationals have been run and won in Las Vegas. This year saw some new clubs taking out titles or rising up the rankings, but in the end it was regular west coast powerhouse San Diego that managed to snap Denver's stranglehold on the top ranking.
The Australian Football League appear to be following through on their commitment to footy in South Africa, with perhaps the biggest single increase in international Australian Football development in the game's history. This should result in a rapid expansion in staff and player numbers.
The Sydney Swans may have fallen one step short in the AFL this year, but their Irish cousins have completed the great achievement of winning a flag in essentially their first season as a club. It wasn't all good news from the Emerald Isle, as some clubs struggled to get onto the park. The following wrap of the Irish 2006 Aussie Rules season is courtesy of Ireland international John Enright.