THE VIRGIN Australia International Rules Series has an exciting future, says AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.
He spoke after arriving in Dublin to watch the Test match at Croke Park on Saturday night, and dismissed critics of the venture, saying such concepts demonstrated the game's desire to be ambitious and aspirational.
The squad trained on Wednesday at Croke Park after arriving in a damp and windy Dublin on Tuesday following five days in New York.
McLachlan, who is due to meet formally with the Gaelic Athletic Association on Friday, said it was important the AFL was never insular in its thinking.
The match that was scheduled to take place today (NY time) between the Australian IRS team and they NY GAA team has been cancelled. The NY GAA this morning relayed the message via Twitter "Due to circumstances beyond the control of NYGAA, the International Rules Challenge v Australia is cancelled. Apologies for any inconvenience."
It will be a set back for the Australians who would have benefitted greatly by having some round ball match practice under their belts before next weekend's one-off IRS Test Match at Croke Park in Ireland. It may also be a setback for those involved in the International Rules Series who are keen to have a match staged in the US in the future.
The match was called off after the AFL's football operations staff inspected the ground for the match. They determined that some areas of the turn were of concern and as such the ground was not fit for play.
The AFL today announced Hawthorn's triple-premiership skipper Luke Hodge would be captain of the Virgin Australia International Rules team to contest the one-off Test against Ireland, to be played at Croke Park in Dublin next Saturday November 21.
The Australian team coaching group of Alastair Clarkson, Ross Lyon and Chris Scott nominated Hodge to be captain from the leadership group comprising Robert Murphy, Nick Riewoldt, Harry Taylor and Sam Mitchell at a team function in New York on Friday evening November 13 (Saturday November 14 Australian time).
The Australian team has spent most of this week warming up and getting to know each other in New York City. The US stopover before next week's International Rules Test match in Ireland will conclude after this weekend. Before they leave for Ireland though the Australian team will play a New York GAA team. The match will take place on Saturday at the Rockland GAA Centre of Excellence in Orangeburg starting at midday.
If you are going to head down there to watch the match please be aware that there are limited facilities (so don't expect seating), entry is $10 for adults and free for under 18's.
Earlier in the week the AFL today announced a five-man leadership group for the Virgin Australia International Rules team to contest the one-off Test against Ireland, to be played at Croke Park in Dublin on Saturday November 21.
The AFL today named a 22-man squad to contest the one-off Test against Ireland in the 2015 Virgin Australia International Rules Series, to be played at Croke Park in Dublin on Saturday November 21.
Australia regained the Cormac Macanallen Trophy with victory in last November's Test on home soil in Perth and has again named a squad comprised entirely of All Australian players, under the direction of leading coaches Alastair Clarkson, Ross Lyon and Chris Scott.
The coaching group of head coach Clarkson and senior assistants Lyon and Scott elected to keep faith with 14 players who were part of last year's victory, while those players from the 2014 Virgin Australia team who were injured or unavailable due to personal commitments were replaced with squad members who were either All Australian selections in 2015, or who had previously been an All Australian player at some point in their careers.
The AFL and GAA today confirmed that the 2015 International Rules series will be just the one test between Australia and Ireland. This comes after some speculation that the AFL were pushing for an extra Test to be played in New York (among other venues).
The AFL have confirmed the once again only All-Australian team members or those who have previously been selected in the All Australian squad previously (in the event of injury) will be eligible for the Australian team.
The match will take place on the hallowed Croke Park turf on November 21st and Australia will again be coached by Alastair Clarkson with the assistance of Brad Scott and Ross Lyon.
It is hoped that a successful tour without serious incidents that have marred previous tours can see the series become a more permanent and expanded series in the future.
Such a glittering array of international cities could potentially play host to International Rules matches if Alastair Clarkson’s push gathers any steam. If “The Big Apple’ can be considered a potential host city, as well as Boston, then other cities across Ireland and Northern Ireland, such as Belfast and Cork, could equally be considered. The Australian coach has ignited discussion about the future International Rules venues, but the debate is as young as the renewed interest in the game. The following is an excerpt from an article on the afl.com website, written by Alex Malcolm.
(Left: Australian Coach, Alastair Clarkson)
Following the success of the one-off Virgin Australia International Rules Test in Perth, the concept is ready to be unleashed on New York or Boston, Alastair Clarkson says.
Australia's victorious coach was adamant the series was well enough established to warrant taking the concept to the United States as early as next year.
Australia won the Cormac Mc Anallen Trophy in front of a sellout Patterson’s Oval by a 10 point margin. It was a welcome and highly successful return to International Rules football in Perth leading to unanimous calls for the competition to return to a two game series. Both the Australian and Irish contingent suggested it would be more satisfying and also fairer on the visiting team. Calls for the game to be taken to New York and Boston were greeted with enthusiasm by the Aussies but with less enthusiasm by the Irish.
The game had all the trappings associated with an international contest. On a somewhat balmy evening the towering lights of Subiaco highlighted the colour of the twilight game. Many Aussies joined the Irish fans in the pre-game buildup to provide a party atmosphere perhaps primed by the Irish Festival outside the ground. It was a complete success judging by the length of the queues for food and drink. The large crowd outside the ground streamed in late oblivious to the band Pseudo Echo playing inside.
There was a great deal to like in tonight’s International Rules test match between Australia and Ireland in Perth. The 10 point result would have pleased Australians, as would the huge Paterson’s Stadium crowd. No doubt the Irish fans, whilst disappointed by the result, would have seen something special in the team’s comeback and some outstanding individual performances.
But, from my vantage point I saw one outstanding aspect. Is Dustin Fletcher a new national sporting legend?
To put this question in some sort of perspective, Fletcher was not Australia’s best player tonight. Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell were outstanding, as was Nick Reiwoldt. Conor McManus was Ireland’s best, but I did like some of the work from David Moran and Mattie Donnelly as well as former AFL player Colm Begley.
Saturday night sees Australia host Ireland at Patersons Stadium in Perth for the one off International Rules Test for 2014. The match will start at 5.45pm Perth time and can be viewed on Australian television on the 7 Network. International Broadcast details can be seen below.