Why today’s match could be the last in Adelaide
IT is looming as the end of an era in Australian football in this country – the end of the International Rules concept.
The contests against the Irish dating back to the mid’80s have been a great feature on the calendar for many years but, try as they have, it feels like the last hurrah. The last stand. The farewell, unless some- thing bigger, better and broader is found to replace it. The obsession with products like AFLX or AFL 10s, while quirky, feel too much like cricket’s attempt to turn “beach cricket” into a serious sport.
It won’t work. Despite popular opinion, I’m not a complete sad sack but really? Seven-a-side footy on a cricket pitch! That’s it?
People aren’t going to flock to it just because the bounce has been taken out of it.
What’s the product? Cricket has done it well. Learn from the best. T20, the Big Bash, IPL - in whatever country the 20/20 format has been a sensation.
Every other sport is envious of what cricket has done.
It tweaked its dying format of the 50-over game but maintained its heart and soul.
A shorter game. Three hours maximum but still 20 wickets and almost 400 runs with no gimmicks. A free hit the only real variation.
In all honesty, the game doesn’t need it. A new game, a worldwide phenomenon and an endless money pit has been created. The game has never been better. It has never been more popular and it has never appealed to every man, woman and child on the planet like it has today.
All cricket did was shorten an already proven, but dying, product. In an age where people are time-poor and looking for a better product, cricket listened. The big question is, is the AFL listening or is it simply trying to cash in?
To squeeze the lemon dry and to milk more out of the people who already go?
Where is their attempt to capture a new audience? International Rules doesn’t do that. I don’t think it even tries. International Rules was initially a way of rewarding the best.
Thirty years ago, the AllAustralian side, selected from state games played throughout the year, were handed their well-earned Australian jumper and offered a trip to Ireland or a home series to play against a country with a game most comparable to Australian rules. Gaelic football.
The rules were tweaked, chopped and changed to find a happy medium and when they found it the competition flourished. Crowds of over 80,000 turned up.
The Aussies got to experience one of the great environments in the world in Croke Park and the series started to gain some popularity.
Unfortunately, that’s where it ended. No-one had the vision of how to take it further.
It may have attracted a flood of Irishmen to Australia to have a crack at our game but that’s all and that didn’t please the Irish.
Tensions were strained and the game collapsed.
It was rebuilt, but it has never been the same. We blew it. End of story. The game as it stands today is over. This may be the last time we see it.