Will Aussie rules ever have a credible international game and do we even care?

Aligee Roar Rookie

By Aligee, Aligee is a Roar Rookie

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    I must admit I am torn. On one hand I would love Australian football to have a buoyant, viable international presence.

    On the other hand I love we have a great treasure all to ourselves, a game that gives many people an Australian grounding and identity, a game that can be traced back to the very early roots of this country’s European history and even further if you subscribe to the Marn Grook theory to which I do.

    There is even talk that Ned Kelly played for Williamstown VFA club in the 1870s while serving a sentence on a prison ship in the bay as a 17-year-old. He was apparently a gun CHB with a bit of a temper.

    I love the fact we have a game to show off to international visitors, guests and tourists, like Gaelic footy or hurling in Ireland, shinty in Scotland, ice hockey in Canada, American Football in the US.

    It’s our own game, I love the fact that with each immigration wave to this country a new layer gets added to the sport.

    So exactly how international is our game, how well is it known, is it growing, it is worth persevering with internationally, will AFLX change the international outlook of the game, or are we just wasting a bit of time here?

    Should the AFL invest more money into it?

    Rory Sloane

    (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

    If we look locally and by locally I mean Oceania and NZ, the game has a bit of traction, particularly in Papua New Guinea where the game has been played since at least the 1940s and more recently in NZ.

    The AFLNZ website is worth having a look at, they seem quite organised in New Zealand and of course the only other country in the world where Australian football is number one is Nauru.

    If we look wider there are organised leagues in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland and different countries in Europe, Denmark has quite an organised league. The US nationals which are held every year is the biggest organised festival of Australian football in the world, with over 50 18-a-side teams participating.

    Their websites are all worth having a look at and generally up to date.

    There are also leagues in the Middle East, Asia and South Africa all varying in size.

    It is also worth pointing out that globalisation and the internet has increased football’s reach rather than see it retreating back to its roots.

    All these leagues have grown in general despite a lack of AFL support. South Africa and New Zealand seem to be the exceptions where the AFL seem to have kicked in some funds or sought sponsorship to cover costs. I also understand that AFL Queensland helps fund Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guinea teams play in Queensland underage champs.

    Should the AFL really focus on a couple of countries and pour resources into them? Should it just focus on NSW and Queensland?.

    Should the AFL abandon any international development whatsoever, is the idea of international growth actually a detriment to the game which could see bigger money from overseas take the best players away from here in the future?

    Do international players ‘steal’ list places from more deserving Australians? More and more international players lead to less and less Australians on AFL lists.

    If we review where the current international draft picks come from, the US seems to provide ruckman types from a basketball background and Ireland contributes HB flanker types from Gaelic footy.

    I don’t have the exact figures but there seems to be around ten Irishman on AFL lists, a couple of Americans and a couple of Kiwis.

    If we use AFLX for example, the Irish could probably put a pretty competitive team on the park, in fact a competitive Irish team could possibly lead to the AFLX pre-season tournament featuring an Irish team.

    I wonder what sort of financial incentive there is for the AFL to televise these type of games to Ireland.

    I understand that the Australian international rules team will play a Test match in a US city to be nominated against the Irish, so there is some irons in the fire as far as IR goes.

    Roarers, what do you think about the current state of the game outside Australia, is it growing, is it worth growing, what are the benefits, what are the negatives?

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    The Crowd Says (143)

    • January 11th 2018 @ 2:37am
      Jeff dustby said | January 11th 2018 @ 2:37am | ! Report

      No it won’t. And you don’t care because it’s suits you to say that. It’s called denial

      • Roar Guru

        January 11th 2018 @ 11:10am
        Redb said | January 11th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Jeff cares. 😉

    • January 11th 2018 @ 6:01am
      Tricky said | January 11th 2018 @ 6:01am | ! Report

      Will it be credible? Probably not in our lifetime. Do we care? By and large I’d say no, HQ obviously does and wants to expand the game internationally.

      Question is does it need to expand internationally? Not right now, the AFL brand is king in this country when it comes to attendance and TV revenue. Remember this league is the 4th highest attended league on average world wide, that’s some heady numbers when you consider our population, add the fact if we matched the amount of games against the other 3 leagues (NFL, Bundesligua and EPL) it’d probably be number 1.

      Right now I’d argue that outside of Aus and PNG those who follow as anything resembling a “supporter” would be the exception to the rule, it may pique interest in some but support not so

      • January 11th 2018 @ 9:18am
        Jeff dustby said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        NFL ? If the platedmore games would still have double the AFL and double the teams

        Not even close to the number 1 sport in half of the country

      • January 11th 2018 @ 9:41am
        clipper said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        I would argue that HQ isn’t putting much effort into the international side. The international cup struggles for assistance. Not much money, if any at all, is spent on overseas comps.
        I would agree with the last sentence, though. They could set up a world cup and split it off into countries based on what national dish you like the best, would have lots of players from all different ‘heritages’, but it would just be a farce.

      • January 11th 2018 @ 11:02am
        bazza200 said | January 11th 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        AFL as a game is not that great on TV but better live so it will always have good figures for game attendances in that way.

        I think international sport is always desirable. We could do an england create and export a game and then get beaten one day from them. AFL could be that for us.

      • January 11th 2018 @ 1:04pm
        David said | January 11th 2018 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

        I don’t know about the Bundesliga and the EPL, but the NFL plays less games than the AFL, so you’re wrong. The NFL is number one and always remain so.

        • Roar Guru

          January 11th 2018 @ 1:30pm
          Cat said | January 11th 2018 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          Depends how you look at it. If you are going per team, yes. If overall, no. The AFL play 198 H&A games. The NFL play 256 regular season games. AFL plays 9 finals games, NFL plays 11 playoff games a year.

          • January 11th 2018 @ 1:43pm
            Brian said | January 11th 2018 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

            But wouldn’t the more matches played make it harder to maintain a higher average attendance. Also I’d be amazed if the Champions League didn’t have a higher average attendance then the AFL. I guess it is not counted as it is not held in one country..

            • Roar Guru

              January 11th 2018 @ 2:06pm
              Cat said | January 11th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

              If you mean the UEFA Champions League, their average attendance is 43,198 across 125 games. That would rank it 2nd, behind NFL. However, depite it having the word ‘league’ in its title, it really is not a league, it is a tournament.

          • January 11th 2018 @ 6:31pm
            David said | January 11th 2018 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

            Cat – the AFL doesn’t average 67,405 people per game now, so regardless of how you look it, the NFL is a long way ahead.

            NFL teams play less games than AFL teams and have a higher average attendance rating. The NFL also has a higher total attendance as well.

            The AFL would never beat the NFL in any attendance figures.

            The fact is Tricky is wrong.

            • Roar Guru

              January 11th 2018 @ 8:02pm
              Cat said | January 11th 2018 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

              The whole ‘average’ attendance thing is a pretty pointless metric anyway. What really matter is percent capacity. If a team or a league is consistently filling their grounds they will be financially better off than another team/league that may average more fans but only fill their ground half way.
              The other factor you have to remember is each sport and/or country has a different way to count attendances. NFL goes by ticket sales. That’s why a game can be ‘sold out’ yet only half a stadium is filled.

              • January 11th 2018 @ 9:42pm
                David said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

                You’re grasping at straws. The data speaks for itself.

              • Roar Guru

                January 12th 2018 @ 7:50am
                Cat said | January 12th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

                Not grasping for anything. Just pointing out the obvious flaws in using ‘average attendance’.

    • January 11th 2018 @ 9:22am
      paulywalnuts said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      No. No.

    • Roar Guru

      January 11th 2018 @ 9:23am
      Cat said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      I could not possibly care less. Having an ‘international presence’ doesn’t actually add ANYTHING! I grew up with baseball as my passion for decades. Never once in my entire life have I watched any of the international offerings. Never watched the World Baseball Classic. Never watched Japanese baseball. Never watched any of the Mexican, South American, Caribbean or Dominican leagues.

      I’m an avid NFL fan too. I never watch the Canadian Football League, despite it also playing gridiron.

      I love Ice Hockey too, but have only ever watched and paid attention to NHL. The Russian, Swedish, Canadian and countless other European leagues have never entered my consciousness.

      • January 11th 2018 @ 1:44pm
        Brian said | January 11th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        So as a lover of Ice Hockey you’ve never watched it at the Winter Olympics?

        • Roar Guru

          January 11th 2018 @ 1:57pm
          Cat said | January 11th 2018 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

          Nope. I find the whole Olympics thing to be pointless.

    • January 11th 2018 @ 9:29am
      Kumul said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      AFL is pretty much unknown in PNG, Rugby League is king over there.

      • January 11th 2018 @ 4:13pm
        Perry Bridge said | January 11th 2018 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

        RL is number 1, but the AFL and Cricket folk have been bubbling along quite nicely over the last couple of decades. The AFL development has spread and increased participation and PNG again won the AFL International Cup back in August (by a single point over NZ) and young Hewago ‘Ace’ Oea has been added to the AFL academy program and may just become the first born and bred and developed PNG player. (there have been a number of PNG born/heritage players in the past but they generally have learned the game in Aust).

        There is a lot of politics in PNG though. (there was a lot of politics in Zimbabwe too – if you know what I mean).

      • January 11th 2018 @ 6:46pm
        Aligee said | January 11th 2018 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

        Rugby League is number one- no doubt about that, but AF does OK, it has some strongholds in different parts of the country, it is still reasonably popular.

    • January 11th 2018 @ 9:33am
      DB said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      Just read the title.
      No, dont care.

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