Australian rules football at an international level is often regarded with some amusement by the association football, rugby union and rugby league crowds, primarily because of its lack of competition outside the country.
Australia also don’t generally partake in the international scene outside the occasional Under-18 or Under-16 tour.
For all that, the amateur Australian rules scene is thriving internationally.
Eighteen countries came to the recent International Cup in Melbourne, including the debut of Indonesia and Pakistan. Five countries entered the women’s division – with the US and Canada supplying another two teams.
The competition was won by Papua New Guinea, who defeated Ireland in the men’s competition, and Canada, who won over Ireland in the women’s division.
The International Cup is a full-length, 18-a-side competition held on full size oval pitches.
Last weekend, 17 European countries competed in the Euro Cup which was held in London, with a record five countries entering women’s teams. The competition was won by Denmark for the first time.
The Euro Cup is a nine-a-side competition played on rugby pitches with slightly tapered corners to give it an oval feel. Matches consist of 20-minute halves. In years where there is no International Cup, the Europeans also compete in the European Championships, an 18-a-side tournament.
This weekend, the USAFL Nationals will be held in Dublin, Ohio. The US Nationals is the largest Australian rules football tournament in the world, and will feature almost 40 teams from across the United States and Canada, including about 10 women’s sides. In total, almost a thousand players will descend on the town for two days.
US nationals consist of 18-a-side matches for the top two divisions, 16-a-side for the middle two divisions and 14-a-side for the bottom two divisions. They also play a lightning carnival format.
Further this weekend, AFL Asia is staging the Asian Championships. This is a 10-team competition (eight countries plus Hong Kong and Macau) being played in the Philippines, featuring teams with admittedly large numbers of expats but a considerable number of locals as well. This is a 16-a-side competition, but allows for up to 10 players on the bench.
At the end of November, the USAFL will stage its first College Championships since 2008. This will be a 10-a-side competition hosted by Texas A&M University.
So while Australia isn’t participating at the international level outside of the International Rules, and while there are no professional competitions outside of Australia, there’s still plenty of amateur footy going on around the world.