Australian Football League Looks To Resuscitate Int'l Rules Series
The Australian Football League "has rallied its leading players and personalities" to resuscitate the Int'l Rules series in the form of a one-off Test it hopes "will restore prestige to a concept that had 'lost its way,''' according to Chloe Saltau of THE AGE. Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson will guide a team made up only of players who have achieved All-Australian selection at some stage in their careers, while the AFL and the Gaelic Athletic Association "mull over rule changes designed to enable the selection of more of the game's best key position players." Collingwood President Eddie McGuire "will fill the role of chef de mission" for the Test to be played at Perth's Patersons Stadium on Nov. 22. McGuire: "This is not a hit-and-giggle game of football or an end-of-season trip." AFL Football Operations Manager Mark Evans said 10 of the game's leading players had been consulted, and "to a man" they were "supportive of the concept provided the series did not fall in the middle of their annual leave period, and that it attracted the best players in the competition" (THE AGE, 4/23). The AAP reported an Australian indigenous team toured Ireland late last year and it "failed to attract great interest." The date of the series was moved from October to November, when most Australian players "are ending their annual leave." Evans: “We are determined to restore the prestige and popularity of the international rules series (IRS)” (AAP, 4/23). In Melbourne, Samantha Lane reported the second AFL game on foreign soil for premiership points "is expected to draw a significantly smaller crowd than last year's historic clash." While the AFL is "projecting an attendance dip" of between 20-33% for the Anzac Day clash in Wellington, New Zealand, between St. Kilda and the Brisbane Lions, it said that "it always anticipated a drop in year two." In explaining the predicted attendance drop, the league "has pointed to what is an apparently natural response to 'novelty' events in sport worldwide." Another factor is "the closeness of Easter and Anzac Day holidays" (THE AGE, 4/23). In Melbourne, Peter Rolfe wrote "footy fans are being stung for up to" A$648 ($600) a ticket by scalpers cashing in on Friday’s sold-out Anzac Day blockbuster between Collingwood and Essendon. But the AFL "is refusing to outlaw the rip-off, despite admitting some seats are being sold at hugely inflated prices out of reach of ordinary fans." Fans "have also been warned to beware of fakes as supporters scramble for a spot at the clash," with all general admission, AFL Reserve and Melbourne Cricket Club guest passes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground "exhausted" (HERALD SUN, 4/23).