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.
Final results are in for the Barassi Youth Tournament for 2006. It's very important to remember that the juniors representing New Zealand and South Africa are in most cases very new to the sport, but there's no hiding the fact that there were some big losses recorded against non-elite opposition. Papua New Guinea chose not to enter, but it would have been very interesting to see how they would have gone. One suspects they would have been very competitive with the top sides, demonstrating what may be a growing gap between their juniors and the rest of the emerging international Australian Football countries.
The British Bulldogs and the Fianna na hEireann (Irish Warriors) will again do battle as a curtain-raiser to the AFL exhibition match between Geelong and Port Adelaide. The AFL match will be played Saturday, October 21st at The Oval and is a big event on the social calendar for the large Australian community in London.
Kicking off at 11.40am, the match between Great Britain and Ireland will be 18-a-side with full International Cup selection rules - the British team for the first time ever likely include players from both Scotland and England.
As the Canadian Football season draws to a close, the action promises to get only more intense, with big weekends for footy in all three active provinces, plus the important search for a coach for the national side.
The 2006 US Nationals are on this weekend in Las Vegas. As has been the case in recent years, there will be three mens divisions competing for national titles. Pleasingly there will also be a women's division to build on last year's successful inclusion of women's footy in the tournament. AFL celebrities have been organised and the AFL's head of Game Development will also attend. Staging the Nationals in Vegas has been a bold move by US Footy, and as usual there has been plenty of controversy, ranging from seedings to the inclusion of Canadian teams.
The Central European AFL Championships were held in Prague last month, with the Finland Lions defeating the Croatian Giants in the final. The tournament was played under handicap rules where teams with more locals received score bonuses and featured squads of mixed Australians and Europeans. The five squads competing were from the newer up-and-coming European footy nations, all except for France still at the one-club stage but aiming to be able to compete against the more established leagues in future.
The first results are in from the Barassi Youth Tournament. Of particular interest to readers of WFN will be the form of South Africa and New Zealand. The African program is the one receiving more AFL funding in recent times, although the Kiwis are still one of the better supported countries.
In the second of the Denmark-Sweden-Germany internationals for 2006, the Danes have thoroughly defeated the Swedes 13.14 (92) to 1.5 (11). Having similarly disposed of Germany the Vikings will take the series, with the Sweden and Germany left to battle for runners-up honours. The result is no surprise given the extra years Denmark have in the game, including strong junior development, but the win will still delight the DAFL.
As was widely expected (and hoped for by many), the 2006 AFL Grand Final was a classic, going right down to the final siren. The thrilling match even had impartial observers on the edge of their seats. Perhaps in the end it was fitting that after so many close matches between the clubs in recent years that the Eagles reversed last season's result, squaring the ledger at one premiership apiece from their two Grand Final clashes. Our readers certainly couldn't split them, with just under 47% tipping West Coast and the same number selecting the Sydney-siders, and around 6% went for the draw that so nearly happened. The AFL playing season is now all but over, with players having end of season surgery and most attention turning to retirements and the major draft. Of course from an international perspective this period has the added interest of the upcoming match between Port Power and the Geelong Cats in London, and the International Rules Test series with Australia travelling to Ireland to face what will surely be a spirited contest after the Aussies' controversial win in 2005.
On 14th September 2006 the Australian Football League announced its much anticipated budget for the next five years, with all eyes on how they would allocate the significantly increased revenues from television rights and other media. Australian media had closely followed the often public debate over how the money should be carved up, with the Players Association demanding a large increase, and AFL club presidents insisting on a distribution far above the AFL's proposals. There were also calls for putting money back into grassroots footy and of course from a small but dedicated minority there were hopes for more to be done on the international front. We discuss the final numbers and talk to AFL General Manager of Game Development David Matthews about where the international program fits in.
The 2006 Barassi Youth Tournament (also known as the Barassi International Australian Football Youth Tournament, and formerly the Jim Stynes Cup) begins on October 1st, with several of the strongest international youth sides due to arrive in the coming days. Junior teams selected from around Australia will also be heading to the Australian Capital Territory for the series, which is supported by the "VFL Club", and which organisers hope will one day form the basis of an Australian Football Youth World Cup.