International rules is back on the up

Pat Hornidge Roar Rookie

By Pat Hornidge, Pat Hornidge is a Roar Rookie

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    Australian team during the singing of the national anthems during game one of the International Rules Series between Australia and Ireland at Adelaide Oval on November 12, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

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    A few years ago, when it was at its lowest point, I felt like I very much in the minority when I said that I liked and enjoyed International Rules – both the concept and the game itself.

    I feel now though, that the game is slowing recapturing the public’s imagination. In some ways both the AFL and the GAA should be congratulated on that, but most of the praise should go to the players and coaches who have given themselves fully to the game.

    Now the crowds must follow. The 25,000 at the first Test this year isn’t a bad base to build upon, but it does look insignificant when compared to the regular 40,000-plus crowds that the games were getting only ten or so years ago.

    I’ve been reading online that, even in Adelaide itself, a lot of people did not know that the match was on over the weekend. I knew it was on sometime, but didn’t know the exact time or date and it was only through listening to the radio on Sunday morning that I remembered that it was on.

    And, as I said, I am a fan of both the concept and the game. So somewhere, it seems, the AFL’s advertising for the game was both misguided and missing.

    Whether this was because they are still not fully recommitted to the game after some of the controversies of the past, or because of some other reason can’t be known. But really, advertising and PR are two of the AFL’s strengths, so they really have no excuse for not promoting the two Tests heavily.

    The game itself on Sunday was high quality on both sides. It was a great exhibition of the code. This is despite the weather being very warm during the day. The performance of Nat Fyfe particularly stood out, with some reports saying that his Brownlow odds for next season have shortened substantially since the game.

    It clearly also meant something to the players, with various spot fires breaking out during the game. There was nothing over the top, as there has been in past games, but there was just enough to show that there was more than simply pride on the line.

    The reaction to Fyfe’s goal by the Australian players was also revealing – they enjoyed the moment.

    Nat Fyfe Fremantle Dockers AFL 2015

    (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

    And the reaction online has been overwhelmingly positive. Over the last couple of series, the general reaction to the games seems to have ranged from non-interest to outright hostility. But something seems to have changed this year.

    It’s hard to tell why. Maybe it is because it hasn’t been in Australia for three years, so people have missed it, or maybe it was due to the amount of big name players taking part this year.

    Whatever the reason, it seems that the goodwill towards the game and the code is back. From this, crowds can build up again, and more players will want the exposure that playing in a representative game brings them.

    I was very surprised to read that the history of International Rules goes back to 1967, with players such as Ron Barassi, Royce Hart, Bob Skilton and Alex Jesaulenko taking part in a world tour during which they played Gaelic Football against various sides in Dublin and New York.

    Taking the series to New York has again been brought up as an idea to spread interest in America about both the AFL and GAA. This idea could expand even further, by having a New Zealand Test when the series is in Australia.

    Having international rules as a truly international sport makes sense if the AFL wishes to expand its influence across the world.

    Whether the AFL sees this potential remains to be seen. It does appear however that International Rules is back on the rise, with support from players, fans and sporting bodies alike.

    If this momentum is seized upon, and the prestige and everything from these games continues to grow, then we can look forward to a unique spectacle at the end of every season.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • November 14th 2017 @ 9:08am
      Milo said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      Have watched a few but without a lot of enthusiasm. Gotta say tho, that game on Sunday was easily the best Ive seen. Perhaps there is a permanent niche there.

      Personally I would prefer the AFL to continue to work on marketing its pure game however. Its clearly the better product IMO and we shouldn’t go changing it just because we are looking to export it.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 10:57am
      clipper said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      Not a fan of any hybrid game, it never seems to get the best out of both formats.
      AFL should put a bit of money into their international cup and do what league does – have teams made up of ‘heritage’ players and perhaps have a few people who were born in that country (although in many cases in the RLWC, this isn’t a requirement). Of course you couldn’t have an Australian team as they would be overwhelming favourites an make a mockery of the whole event, but maybe have an indigenous side.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 11:25am
      Hungry Jack said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

      Merely ‘a game’ for people who are desperate for some form of footy in the off season. No thanks!

      • November 25th 2017 @ 8:15am
        pussyblue said | November 25th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        Less players an “over and under” goal and the worst sacrilege, a round ball. About as far removed from AFL as you could get. Then again if they used a Sherrin the Irish would be slaughtered every game. A big yawn IMO. If I am going to watch a round ball international I’ll watch soccer.

    • Roar Rookie

      November 14th 2017 @ 6:15pm
      WCE said | November 14th 2017 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

      Since the Gaelic team are “amateurs” why don’t they play against our WAFL players instead of AFL players? This isn’t in anyway disrespectful of the WAFL (I am also a Subiaco WAFL member as well as WCE) . I suggest the good WAFL players go up against the Gaelic players “with the sherrin ” not stupid round ball and allow proper tackling not the sissy stuff, the rest can be the Gaelic version. Isn’t that more an even game combining Aussie rules with Gaelic instead of all Gaelic rules ???????? go figure

    • Roar Pro

      November 14th 2017 @ 11:29pm
      Alphingtonian said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:29pm | ! Report

      I love it too Pat! I think we’re incredibly privileged to be able to share enough aspects of both our indigenous games to come up with our own unique game together. If you look at comments on youtube with highlights from The International Rules games of the past people who don’t know Gaelic Football or AFL are completely in love with it and think it’s amazing! When the best players from both codes are on the park it is a fantastic game to watch, high speed and intensity with real passion and skill.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 5:26pm
        republican said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

        …..I concur with your sentiment especially since the Australian game was influenced by the Gaelic games far more than many here would like to admit, which ironically includes the governing body, who uphold the status quo version of its history wars.
        The said, the hybrid code epitomises the AFL agenda which is anything but a cultural one, far from it.
        There’s is to ultimately compromise the cultural aspect of our game which they are already doing a damn fine job of, in the hope it will gain international traction & support commercially.
        The AFL are unfit to assume governance of our indigenous code in respect of culture, community & history, since they are solely driven by an avarice to expand the empire, that is so dependant on and symbiotic of tele……..

        • November 16th 2017 @ 7:33am
          Milo said | November 16th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

          ” especially since the Australian game was influenced by the Gaelic games far more than many here would like to admit, which ironically includes the governing body, who uphold the status quo version of its history wars. ”

          Really? Where did you pull that “fact”???

          Funny how the first game of Australian footy happened around 1858 and the Melbourne and Geelong footy clubs were formed shortly after. By 1885 which is when the first game of Gaelic football was believed to be played, there were many Australian footy clubs already in existence including current AFL teams Carlton, Richmond, Essendon, St Kilda, Port Adelaide and North Melbourne in addition to Melbourne and Geelong.

          Australian footy was originally based on a mixture of soccer and rugby, the latter specifically due to Tommy Wills education at Rugby in England. Both sports may have similar origins but Australian footy was not influenced by Gaelic football – if anything it may well have been the other way around.

          • November 16th 2017 @ 2:40pm
            Aligee said | November 16th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

            In fact it as the opposite, the codifying of the Gaelic games was related to the Australian game, archbishop Croke was stationed in NZ and witnessed the thousands of Australian gold miners plenty of which were Irish who made the trip across the ditch from the Vic gold fields during the NZ gold rush, this was at a time when NZ was tied to Melbourne culturally and financially much more strongly than today, Croke visited Melbourne regularly and when he moved back to Ireland was instrumental in the formation of the GAA and the codifying of Hurling, Gaelic footy etc.

            Many of the rules for Gaelic footy were taken from the earlyvrules of Australian football from the 1860’s

            • November 16th 2017 @ 2:43pm
              Aligee said | November 16th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

              Witness Croke Park in Dublin

            • November 16th 2017 @ 2:47pm
              Aligee said | November 16th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

              Not for one minute am I suggesting that Aussie footy is older than Gaelic, but the codifying and making the game standard across all the Irish counties

              • November 24th 2017 @ 7:33am
                republican said | November 24th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

                ……..’sorry, but what!!!!!!’ to you too……..

            • November 17th 2017 @ 2:21pm
              republican said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

              ……aaah the old chestnut that our code has a Rugby DNA.
              Nothing could be further from the truth.
              The Gaelic games were being played up and down the eastern seaboard, all be it, they were not yet codified.
              There is plenty of ‘fact’ available to the Irish games influence on ours, subject to your interpretation of ‘fact’.
              Wills influence was significant however his journey to Mother Albion only meant he realised that the code of Rugby was most unsuitable for the conditions here and as such a new one needed to be developed.
              Perhaps yours is influenced by the old status quo however you should know, that so much of what we were taught about our history in this country was and remains, a very subjective story.
              Often it is what is not told rather than what is that renders our history incomplete.
              It is fascinating that those who are our games most vocal detractors, Rugby supporters, also covet it with such superior ignorance.
              It seems sometimes, that little has changed in respect of this nations story being dictated to by perfidious Albion.
              Then of course there is Marngrooks influence, but lets don’t go there again………..

              • November 17th 2017 @ 10:14pm
                Aligee said | November 17th 2017 @ 10:14pm | ! Report

                IMO the game has influences from Gaelic football, rugby and marngrook, but interestingly the first players of the game were not Irish or catholic and that most carholic of clubs Collingwood ( which in those days would mean Irish) were not Catholics either, the early players and officials were Protestant.

                The players on the goldfields which was much more egalitarian than Melbourne may have had Irish playing football but not necessarily Melbourne rules, eventually it all meshed together to become a inclusive game.

              • November 18th 2017 @ 9:06am
                republican said | November 18th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

                …….indeed, it is a bastard code in that respect.
                I take umbrage however with the WASP status quo that continues to assume to dictate the writing of our codes story, now through the governing body, that is dismissive of all influences.
                The Gaelic influence and by that I mean Irish, has long been understated despite this large diaspora contributing significantly to this nations cultural, social and political institutions and this of course includes our indigenous game.
                Marngrook has also been committed from the games history from the gospel according to the AFL sadly.
                Much of history was not written but passed down by the ‘Sheanachire’ in Irish culture, as well as by stories in indigenous culture………

              • November 18th 2017 @ 7:24pm
                Aligee said | November 18th 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

                You can take umbrage but the facts are that all the initial rule makers and players bar a few were quite simply WASPs.

                The Irish (catholic) influence on the game was not seen at Collingwood until the early 1900’s, before 1892 the club was called Brittania, a more Empiric sort of name you could not find.

                Now of course it could actually be argued that Micks run the game, but initially that was not the case.

              • November 19th 2017 @ 12:44pm
                republican said | November 19th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

                ……..I believe a distinction can be made here, i.e the ‘running the game’ and engaging in the game.
                The fact of the matter is the ‘status quo’ politically speaking was more to do with the running of the game and we all know that the stars quo were the English and more privileged Lowland Scots, while those actually on the ground playing the game and indeed impacting on its development were far more influential than the gospel according to the AFL is willing to admit.
                there are accounts of the irish playing the code during those experimental founding years, more often than not sabotaging the contest by turning the game into one more akin to the Irish game.
                It is incredibly disappointing that so much of the codes history has basically been rendered mythical, by a governing body that purports to be the custodians of such a significant cultural institution………….

              • November 19th 2017 @ 12:59pm
                republican said | November 19th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

                Allege, whether they were from somewhere else or not is irrelevant.
                The colonists, immigrants, new settlers whatever you like to call them, did not engage with our game in NZ.
                There seems to be a hard sell to gift the undeserving NZ, AFL status based on an inaccurate and spurious premise that the game was embraced in NZ way back then.
                Scrutiny and context is whats required in respect of deconstructing these commercially motivated follies, that are ultimately expedient of the domestic game and its devoted and loyal heartlands……

              • November 19th 2017 @ 1:32pm
                Aligee said | November 19th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Plenty of big words, but i dont think you actually said anything.

                The game was going OK in NZ in the 1860’s and it continues in the last few years to be a minor player in the NZ sporting scheme of things.

                There is and was a definitive group of people who hate the game IN NZ and see AF as cutlural Australian imperialism, but in reality that is exactly what they have taken from England in Rugby

                History will show us that during the 1860- 1890’s in NZ the rugby authorities were so concerned about football overtaking rugby that they considered asking for rule numerous times changes to keep the game more exciting and flowing to keep up.

                History also shows us that the first rugby club in NZ has very strong football roots and in fact was originally a club that played AF before rugby.

            • November 17th 2017 @ 2:25pm
              republican said | November 17th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

              …..indeed and thats why the code ceased to exist once war broke out.
              Nearly all those from Vic and beyond returned to these fatal shores.
              There is absolutely NO credibility in talking NZ up as having an affinity for Australian Football since 99.9% of those playing our game in the South island, were from here………

              • November 18th 2017 @ 7:28pm
                Aligee said | November 18th 2017 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

                That correct, but you would also find that after the gold rush a very high :% of people in NZ were from somewhere but else, it was actually the new migrants from the UK primarily that did not like the Australian game, stating that the country deserved a proper English game, t was a matter of population and eventually the bigger numbers of incoming migrants from the U.K. held sway.

              • November 19th 2017 @ 2:00pm
                Aligee said | November 19th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

                If you are really interested in understanding what happened to AF in NZ, you should at least attempt to read this book

                VV

                “Forging imperial and Australasian identities: Australian rules football in New Zealand during the nineteenth century” – by McConville and Hess

              • November 19th 2017 @ 5:13pm
                republican said | November 19th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

                ……..yes, NZ do hold a deep seated contempt for all things Australian and this only exacerbates my consternation and great disappointment in our governing body and those who would support the pseudo international growth of our code to that sovereign rugby mad nation.
                It is the expedience to this end, of viable domestic options that certainly hold a criteria of merit in terms of expansion compared to NZ that concerns me the most.
                With all due respect, NZ should never be mentioned in the same breath as these, while you only need compare the DNA of the code in a city such as Canberra alone to realise its contribution to the game at the highest tier over time. Seriously, the hyperbole in respect of NZ is simply breathtaking and quite frankly, insulting.
                Thank you for your thoughts just the same Aligee.

              • November 19th 2017 @ 9:03pm
                Aligee said | November 19th 2017 @ 9:03pm | ! Report

                Sorry, but what!!!!!

    • November 15th 2017 @ 3:33am
      john Murphy said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:33am | ! Report

      its a great game, more than one AFL/GAA player has said playing was a career highlight. Its self financing. It has certainly introduced me to AFL and I have become a big fan of many AFL players over the years through it.

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