A day before the match, the AFL and the GAA hope for a crowded house at the MCG for the second International Rules series contest between Australia and Ireland even given predicted showers.
At the same time, the game exists in another crowded environment.
October is the time of Australia-India Test cricket from India, V8 Super Car racing, this year a Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand in Hong Kong, the soccer and basketball seasons, the Rugby League World Cup in Sydney and, via pay TV and news reports, the MLB World Series and the English Premier League.
Above all, in Melbourne, is the spring racing carnival.
While International Rules has to compete for media attention, in a sense the crowding problem demonstrates the need for Australian Football to have an international dimension.
Illustrating once again that the hybrid code fills a bigger niche than just at elite AFL v GAA level, in the first half of October, an under-23 representative squad from the 4 "traditional" Australian football states (members of the Australian Amateur Football Council), toured Ireland to play 4 International Rules matches against some prominent local Irish GAA clubs. This tour follows on from a similar tour in 2005 as reported on WFN. Also planned was a match against an All-star side from the Irish Aussie Rules leagues, but sadly that did not go ahead. The following is a summary of the AAFC tour.
Shane Jordan, Toby Haseldine (Salisbury North) Fraser Pinkney (Pembroke Old Scholars) Martin Wilson (Plympton High Old Scholars Camden) Ryan Richter (Broadview)
Allan O’Sign (North Launceston) Daniel Ellis (Launceston) Nicholas Buller (South Launceston) Nick McKenna, Jesse Wells (Burnie Dockers)
Jack Watts (University Blues) Ben Dowd (St Kevin’s Old Boys) Brendan Iezzi (Old Trinity Grammarians) Andrew McGuinness (Old Brighton Grammarians) Peter McGettigan (St Bedes Mentone)
Steven Wood, Simon Jones (University) Brad Wedgwood (North Fremantle) Scott Horsburgh (Wesley Curtin) Jarrad Heller (Collegians)
Once again, due in part due to the involvement of a second country with a large diaspora, and perhaps the recent history of violence, the International Rules Series seems to have a growing international audience, perhaps rivalling the AFL Grand Final in terms of overall interest, not just on television but also internet coverage, YouTube and media interest.
Here are the Australian and international television broadcast details for the 2nd IR test which will be held between Australia vs Ireland in Melbourne on Friday 31st October at MCG 7:45pm AEDT.
International Rules continues to be the focus of the Australian foobtall off-season.
Masters (over 35) level International Rules has been played between Ireland and Australia for 6 years, more recently named the Paddy Gaffney Cup in memory of an Irish footballer who died during a junior club match.
Australia has never won the series, but this year have pulled out the big guns. Former AFL players Gavin Wanganeen, Richard Champion, Adrian Fletcher, Paul Dimattina, Shaun Smith, Brad Sholl and Paul Hudson took on Ireland's over 35s in the first of a two game series.
Sporting chess reached another high last night as the Irish held back a fast advancing Australian side to win by one point the first International Rules match, 45-44, before a crowd of 35,000 at an occasionally wet Subiaco.
As expected, with superior understanding of the floating round ball, the Irish went out to a big lead early, particularly finding the net for 6 points which the Australians had trouble doing. However, by half time, aided by superior fitness, the Australians had brought the score back to a one point deficit of 18-19.
Australia has named its placed squad for the International Rules Test against Ireland in Perth tonight.
Adelaide's Nathan Bock gets the crucial and unfamiliar role of goal-keeper. The final team is based on player availability and those deemed suited to the hybrid game, and sees remarkably few (just one) Geelong players, despite their AFL dominance up until the 2008 Grand Final.
GK: Nathan Bock (Adelaide)
B: Michael Firrito (North Melbourne), Brad Sewell (Hawthorn), Campbell Brown (Hawthorn)
HB: Ryan Crowley (Fremantle), Drew Petrie (North Melbourne), Adam Selwood (West Coast)
M: Brent Harvey (North Melbourne), Scott Thompson (Adelaide)
HF: Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood), Daniel Motlop (Port Adelaide), David Rodan (Port Adelaide)
F: Michael Osborne (Hawthorn), Shaun Burgoyne (Port Adelaide), Matt Campbell (North Melbourne)
I/C (one to be omitted): Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs), Jared Brennan (Brisbane Lions), Nathan Foley (Richmond), Roger Hayden (Fremantle), Leigh Montagna (St Kilda), Marc Murphy (Carlton), Max Rooke (Geelong), Kade Simpson (Carlton), Dale Thomas (Collingwood), Daniel Wells (North Melbourne)
International Rules - A Fifty Year Tradition and the cynics of the press
It is now over 50 years since Harry Beitzel took the Galahs to Ireland and New York, and since they defeated one of the top GAA teams at their own game, in the biggest shock to hit Gaelic football in a long while.
Every few years we have had series, playing exciting versions of the hybrid game, International Rules, which combines Aussie Rules with Gaelic football. The next instalment begins tonight.
The Sydney AFL have defeated the NSWGAA in the International Rules match in a thriller to win the first Mike Raftery Cup.
Before a great crowd, the Aussie Rules players won by a solitary behind in a closely fought game.
Sydney AFL: 4.3.10 (43)
NSWGAA: 3.6.6 (42)
Editor: to refresh people's memories, it's 6 points for an "under" in the goal net, 3 for an "over" between the main posts, and 1 for a behind between the outer posts, as per normal Australian football.
Sydney's Aussie Rules team featured several talented players on AFL scholarships including Geelong's Ranga Ediriwickrama, Melbourne's Ted Strudwick and St Kilda's former recipient Blake McGrath who all had good games.
Following the success of the clash, officials of the AFL Sydney and NSWGAA are currently in discussions to make this a regular event.
With comments noting that Australia's increase in skill with the round ball needs to be matched more, perhaps than trying to match Australia's physical strength - Ireland’s International Rules squad was announced on Tuesday 7th October in Dublin.
As reported in the Irish Times, Irish team manager (coach), Seán Boylan, admitted Ireland was sending its most inexperienced (in terms of International Rules experience) squad since the series resumed a decade ago. Ireland will be without all its AFL players due to injury or personal reasons (or perhaps some not considered on form grounds – though Boylan didn’t say that) apart from the Brisbane Lions' Colm Begley who did have an excellent season. Tadgh Kennelly carrying several injuries will be a big loss but will be assisting Boylan with managing the team.
The Irish players came mainly from the most successful counties in the recently completed All-Ireland championships, as the Irish Times reports: “All-Ireland finalists Tyrone and Kerry leading the pack with four players each. Other representations are Armagh and Cork (3), Galway, Dublin and Meath (2) with Laois, Down, Wicklow, Westmeath, Wexford, Mayo and Derry having one player each.” Of some controversy was that a small traditionally unsuccessful county, Fermanagh, that has improved markedly in recent times had 3 players considered likely, but all were overlooked.
The AFL today announced its 25-man squad for the 2008 Toyota International Rules Series to be played in Perth and Melbourne. The squad to be coached by Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse will be defending the Cormac McAnallen trophy, which was won in Ireland in 2006. Malthouse said the team featured the next generation of Australian players.
“We have gone for youth, speed, skill and agility. The squad consists of players who have had outstanding seasons with their clubs, 23 of the 25 have finished in the top 10 of their club best and fairest. They all deserve the opportunity to play for their country and win for their country.