The 2006 Scottish ARFL draw has been released, with two new clubs in the Middlesbrough Hawks and Glasgow Redbacks. Middlesbrough is located in far northern England, near Durham and Newscatle - the first footy side in the north east. The arrival of the Redbacks means that this weekend can see a derby played in both Glasgow (between the Redbacks and Sharks) and Edinburgh (Bloods vs Body Snatchers), reminiscent of the classic cross-town clashes in Scottish soccer.
The Papua New Guinea under 16s have again won the U16s Queensland Country Championships, defeating Cairns comfortably in the grand final. PNG are the one country consistently taking on and defeating Aussie sides, thanks both to the great grassroots development of the game in the nation, and to the strong support from AFL Queensland. Four of the boys have been selected to represent the Country Kookaburras in the Queensland U16 Championships, though from the scorelines it would seem plenty of other lads deserved a spot.
Aussie Rules may not have conquered the troubled African nation of Zimbabwe just yet, but it has won a convert in recent arrival to Australia Tinashe Nyatsanga. He quickly fell in love with the sport and is now one of the game's most sought after commodities - an umpire.
In an historic first for an Osaka player, the 2006 Robert Walters scholarship winner is Genki Tanaka (25). The selection of Genki of the Osaka Dingoes is an endorsement of the fantastic strides Australian Football has made in this densely populated, dynamic Japanese city. Like a number of Japanese players over the past few years, Genki will play with Melbourne club side Box Hill North, the first Japanese player from a non-Tokyo club to receive the scholarship.
The 2006 National Championships for senior footy in PNG will be held on June 10th to 12th in Lae. Expected to attend are representative squads from the leagues in Lae, National Capital District (Port Moresby), Western Highlands Province (Mt Hagen),
Eastern Highlands Province (Goroka), West New Britain (Kimbe, Hoskins), East New Britain (Rabaul, Pomio) and Buka. Runners-up at the International Cups of 2002 and 2005, the strong PNG leagues should see some great action. WFN speaks with PNG footy legend Peter Michael, father of champion Brisbane Lions fullback Mal.
As we reported in US Nationals and AFL TV broadcast updates, there have been major changes to AFL TV coverage in North America in 2006. It is good to see that Setanta Sports are making at least early efforts to promote the game, with a dedicated page on their website (you may have to select North America or look for the Aussie Rules logo). Note that the page shows the AFL fixtures, not the telecast schedule.
When 2005 AFL Premiers the Sydney Swans travelled to Los Angeles to play an exhibition match against the North Melbourne Kangaroos, their promotion of the great Aussie game went further than just the United States. An offer was made to bring two Canadian players down to LA to train with Sydney and a young player from each of Toronto and Vancouver were more than happy to accept the opportunity. This continues a growing tradition of the New South Wales side assisting international football, following on from their willingness to recruit and develop Irishman Tadhg Kennelly and the genuine support given to Canada for the 2005 International Cup. WFN spoke to AFL Canada President Mike McFarlane about what realistic pathways the two young guns could follow.
With the snow melting and the sun slowly edging out in Eastern Europe, the Czech, Austrian and Croatian Aussie rules clubs are dusting off the footy for what hopefully may be their first structured season. The three relatively new sides are planning a three-way series this year, beginning when the Vienna Dingos host the Zagreb Giants and Czech Lions in May. While the Czech and Viennese sides have played a few games to date, the Zagreb Giants will (hopefully) make their debut this year, after a successful Australia Day party netted a number of new squad members. The Giants are to host the first Croatia Open in July (logo at left).
Michito Sakaki, the Japanese footballer who played for Essendon in their exhibition game against Sydney earlier in the year, has kicked a goal in only his second match, playing for Wodonga Raiders in the Ovens & Murray Football League (reported by WFN on March 23, Michito goes semi-pro in Australia). He has started the season slowly but has shown some promise at this very early stage of his Aussie career.
AFL club Carlton had a bad night at Telstra Dome, going down to the emerging Hawthorn team by 32 points. The Blues have struggled for several years but have been more competitive in 2006, as they were again on Friday night against their fellow Melbourne-based club, trailing 4.6 (30) to 6.4 (40) at half time. The match also saw Irishman Setanta O'hAilpin play his second senior game for the Blues and it was hoped he would show marked improvement from 2005, but in what may be a major setback for his AFL aspirations, the tall forward struggled throughout the match.
Returning after a period of mourning in 2005 with a couple of low key games and combining with Kansas city at the 2005 Nationals, Louisville Football Club make their second big step back into footy in 2006. Their season kicking off this weekend hosting the Founder’s Thunder Cup 2006 Tournament in memory of club founder John Harrell.
After two thrilling draws, Australia defeated Ireland 2.6.15 (45) to 1.6.6 (30) in the deciding Test in Fremantle on 19th April 2006. It was the first series win to Australia in 4 years after Ireland had won in 03, 04 and 05.