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Updated: 27/11/2010


International Football

Despite being restricted in its appeal overseas Australian Football has not been backward in etching out an international presence. One less well known way has been by publicity at  International Stamp Shows held in Australia. For example it would surprise most Australians, even diehard Aussie Rules Fans,  that the second and third stamps issued with Australian Football as the theme were both issued overseas. More conventional ways are the following.

Demonstration Games at Major Events
A game of Australian Rules was played at the MCG during the 1956 Olympics and the VFL/AFL have gone out of their way to schedule games at the same time as the Formula One Grand Prix and the Gold Coast Indy car race.

In 1982 the Grand Final between Richmond and Carlton was replayed at the Gabba as an official Demonstration sport of the XII Commonwealth Games. The ground was a sell out and patrons saw Richmond reverse the tables defeating the Blues by 18 points, Richmond 28.16.184 defeated Carlton 26.10.166.

A Cinderella stamp sheet was issued which included an Australian Rules Stamp. Below is a Wesley Cover with Australian Rules Logo and Postmark (PM 959) It was also released as a smaller cover. A series of maxicards for each sport including Australian Football were also issued. A Postcard with the Australian Rules Postmark on the back cover was also released.

  1982 Commonwealth Games Cover

Peter Daicos did a lap of honour with the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games Baton at half time in the Anzac Day Blockbuster at the MCG on 25th April 2002. A cover by First Class Collectibles was released to commemorate the event.

The Centenary of Federation in 2001 was celebrated with two special Federation Matches.

Demonstration Games Overseas.

Demonstration games, usually as part of end of season trips, have been played in many countries, including Japan, Canada, USA, U.K., New Zealand,  Greece and South Africa. 1998 was the first year that official preseason games in the Ansett Cup have been played. In South Africa Brisbane defeated Fremantle and in New Zealand., Melbourne defeated Sydney. In 2000 The Western Bulldogs defeated Hawthorn , and in 2001 the Lions defeated Adelaide both in Wellington, NZ.

For further information see the International Games Venues.

International Cup
Leagues are present in New Zealand, USA, Canada, several Asian countries, including Japan, Singapore and Vietnam and several European countries including the UK and Denmark. The only other country in which Australian Football is the main sport is in the tiny Pacific country of Nauru.

From 14-23 August 2002 the inaugural Australian Football International Cup was staged in Melbourne, Australia. The following 11 nations competed - South Africa, the USA, Canada, England, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

Ireland won 7.9 (51) to PNG 2.7 (19) in the Final at the MCG.

The next Cup was planed for 2005.

Gaelic Football
Watching Gaelic and Australian Football, there is little doubt that the games are similar. One theory as to the origin of Australian Football was that it evolved from Gaelic Football. Research by Professor Blainey appears to discredit this, and perhaps both games have evolved along similar lines. Other researches however feel they are intricately linked

The Centenary of the Gaelic Athletic Association was marked by the issuing of two stamps on 23/08/84. The stamp showing Gaelic Football is shown at right.

The similarity between the games has led to International Rules Football

The Irish Experiment
Several young footballers have been brought over from Ireland to try out for Australian Football and this has been dubbed "The Irish Experiment." Of the group, Jim Stynes, with the 1991 Brownlow medal, 4 Best and Fairest for Melbourne, 264 games and the record for the longest number of consecutive games 244, has been the outstanding player. However Sean Wight (89), Brian Stynes (2), Dermott McNicholl (3) and Paul Early (1) have all played senior games.

With the advent of rookie lists clubs were more prepared to put their toe in the water and in 2001 Melbourne drafted Kevin Devine, the Swans drafted Tadhg Kennelly and the Western Bulldogs drafted Bernie Collins.

Bernie Collins was retained on the rookie list at the Bulldogs for 2002 but then delisted. Kevin Devine was delisted by Melbourne after one season. Nicholas Walsh was added to Melbourne's rookie list for 2002 and 2003. The Swans added Declan O'Mahoney from Dublin to their 2003 Rookie List but he was  delisted at the end of 2003.

Tadhg Kennelly proved to be a huge success story and he played 8 senior games off the rookie list in 2001 For the 2002 season he was elevated to the senior list. Kennelly played ever game for the swans in 2002 lifting his game total to 28. After round 19 he received a Rising Star Nomination. In 2005 he was a member of the Swans Premiership side and his game total has advanced to 101*.

The surprise rookie of 2004 was Setanta O'hAilpin, a champion junior hurler, who was placed on the Carlton Rookie List. Midseason he was upgraded to the senior list but missed senior selection after sustaining injury. He was again a rookie for 2005 and was again upgraded and played 1 senior game. He was placed on the senior list for 2006.

His brother, Setanta O'hAilpin was also added to Carlton's Rookie list for 2005 and 2006.

The Brisbane Lions upset GAA officials by adding Colin Begley and Brendan Quigley to their rookie list for 2006.

The Arafura Games

The Arafura Sports Festival was first held in Darwin in 1991. It is a celebration of sport and includes 1,400 athletes from surrounding countries such as PNG, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Brunei, Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawack as well as teams from the Northern Territory and North Queensland.

The initial games included a demonstration of  Australian Football. The game was played on 22nd May and was between the NT Teal Cup Team and a team of NT senior Footballers from the NTFL, Bathurst Island and Barrunga Community. It included such champions as Maurice Rioli and Noel Long.

Australia Post issued a special commemorative cover and postmark (PM 1715) to celebrate the festival . The left side of the cover shows the logos of the sports played, including Australian Football. ( enlarged logo)

In more recent years, Australian Football games have been played between the International competing countries with PNG winning in 1995 and Singapore in 1997.

1999 saw teams split into two divisions with Division A containing Papua New Guinea , Hong Kong, Japan and the Northern Territory and Division B containing New Zealand, Singapore, Samoa, and Western Australia. The final saw Papua New Guinea defeating New Zealand by 37 points with Samoa winning the Bronze medal.

The 2001 Games were held from the 19-26 May 2001. Nauru won the final from the Central Desert Eagles, with the NT superules team winning the bronze.