The Wolverhampton Wolverines have used their off-season time wisely. Rather than wait for the season proper to start, Ian Mitchell, club president and coach, has been exploring a variety of ways to not only keep his team fit and ready, but also grow the game throughout the Wolverhampton districts and beyond.
Last weekend saw the inaugural International Rules game in Wolverhampton, England. It is a game that had been in the pipeline between the Wolverines and St Mary's GAA Wolverhampton for two or three years, but various obstacles had prevented it from taking place until now.
When the International Rules (or compromise rules) format was first put together as a way for Aussie rules footballers to tour Ireland and play a competitive brand of football where both the Australians and Irish could represent their countries, they probably never considered that this new version of the game would be played elsewhere. It has however become a patch of common ground for Aussie rules and Gaelic football clubs far from their native shores to link up. Thanks to the President of the Nova Scotia AFL, Jonah Scott for the following report.
International Rules Football was introduced to Nova Scotia during the month of October as the Halifax Dockers and the Halifax Gaelic Football Club played off against each other in the inaugural 2013 Nova Scotia International Rules Football Series. Like the series being held in Ireland this month, the 2013 Nova Scotia IRF Series also consisted of a battle between a team of Gaelic Footballers, mostly of Irish decent, and one of Australian Rules Footballers, half of which were Aussies.
The Australian team today defeated the combined Dublin colleges team at Parnell Park in Dublin. The final scoreline 62-23 not nearly as important to the Australians as the chance for a competitive hit out. Their opponents finding the going much tougher than last week when they played against the VAFA side.
In the cold conditions the Aussies were off to a slow start with the quarter time score Australia 23 - Dublin Combined Universities 11 but soon found their feet and showing their pace, and superior tackling managed to shut down the students and force numerous turnovers.
Ash McGrath looked comfortable as keeper and looks certain to have the job on Saturday night in Cavan.
North Melbourne star Daniel Wells has been named captain of the Australian team to play Ireland on Saturday. Aaron Davey, who has retired from AFL football after ten seasons at the Melbourne football club has been named vice captain.
Coach Michael O’Loughlin said that Wells and Davey were high quality individuals who were the perfect role models for their teammates for this historic competition.
“Daniel and Aaron are both highly regarded by their peers and have impressed everyone with their natural leadership and mentoring skills during the lead-up to the International Rules Tests,” O’Loughlin said.
At the Australian team’s training session in Melbourne on Friday three players separated off from the rest for some goalkeeping practice. With assistant coach Jason Mifsud and Melbourne Victory’s goalkeeping coach Steve Mautone giving instructions on positioning and tactics Ash McGrath, Nathan Lovett-Murray and Cameron Ellis-Yolmen.
Ireland have named their 23 man team ahead of the upcoming International Rules Series Tests against Australia in Ireland. The first Test is this Saturday 19th of October at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Among the named squad Australian football followers will recognise Carlton’s Zach Tuohy and former Brisbane/St Kilda player Colm Begley. Chrissy McKaigue played with the Sydney Swans reserves, and Michael Shields lasted half a season with the Carlton Football Club before deciding to go back to Ireland.
Ciaran Kilkenny who left Hawthorn before the season started this year and Ciaran Byrne who has signed with Carlton to be on the club’s list as an International Rookie in 2014 have also been named.
The Indigenous All Stars squad has used its final training session before representing Australia in Ireland to call for the first 40,000 years of Australia’s history to be recognised in our nation’s Constitution.
The team wore the shirts of the Recognise movement to perform their War Cry to help build support for the referendum within two years.
The All Stars will be the first All-Indigenous team to represent an Australian sporting code at senior level overseas since the first cricket team toured England in 1868, more than 150 years ago.