Eddie McAvinchey reports from the SARFL on last year's season of solid progress and anticipation of further growth in 2007:
Scotland looks ahead to exciting 2007
by Eddie McAvinchey of SARFL
With Collingwood forming a sister relationship with the Glasgow Magpies (formerly Glasgow Redbacks) the Scottish Australian Football League (SARFL) has started the year with a blast and is looking forward to a lively 2007. The 2006 season proved a bit of a watershed for the game in Scotland, with an expanded 5-team league structure, a further successful staging of the pre-season Scottish Cup, and the entrance of a new, second team in Glasgow.
A few concerned readers have contacted us wondering if there are any major concerns behind the current downtime of the Australian Rules Football League Ireland and British Australian Rules Football League websites (you'll be tempted to click on them anyway since they're hyperlinked). WFN has been in contact with the webmasters of both sites and have been assured that these are just the usual website/webhost glitches experienced by many websites and they hope to be back up and running soon.
We may as well take this opportunity to thank Ripefruit for the excellent service they provide us with here at WFN.
One of Australian Football's oldest international leagues, the Danish AFL, has decided to expand its Premier League to six sides for the coming 2007 season. The new club is the Port Malmö Maulers, from the growing Swedish football scene.
More details are emerging of Aussie Rules UK's plans for a national league in 2007, with 5 divisions planned across Britain, featuring 21 teams of 9 per side, possibly including quite a few existing British Australian Rules Football League clubs.
A battle may be looming in Britain as the long standing league the BARFL (website down at time of writing - a bad omen?) appear set to be challenged by the relatively new organisation on the scene, Aussie Rules UK, in regions outside of London. In an interesting twist last month the founder of ARUK successfully ran for a position on the BARFL Committee before resigning the following day to pursue plans for a new league in 2007 with hints of a significant sponsor. Not surprisingly both sides have different opinions on how this has all unfolded and whether the existing Regional League will be affected. Is there to be a battle or something completely different...
The footy scene in France is hoping to soon affiliate with the polysports association Leo Lagrange in an effort to improve the profile of Australian Rules football and give itself a channel to receiving funding through government channels.
The move comes as the French footy clubs debate the best way forward for the sport in France, with Strasbourg pulling out of the AFLG after a tough first year and options for regional leagues in and around France up for discussion.
Since the end of last year, footy in Finland has seen the Finland Lions make two trips to Prague, play a three-game series against the Stockholm Dynamite and hold a match Finland vs The World, with an all-Finnish team taking on Irish and Aussies from the Finnish footy scene and only going down by twenty points.
Now the crew are putting together plans for a local league featuring teams from Helsinki, Espoo, Turku and possibly Vantaa (all fairly close together on Finland's southern coast), with the goal of having enough Finns playing regularly in the league to push for a Finnish team (tentatively nicknamed the "Ice Breakers") at the 2008 International Cup.
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 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 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.