Just watched the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in a sports bar in Northbridge and became a soccer fan.
It reminded me of some thoughts I had on International Rules Football. The AFL and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) should get together and formalise the International Code. Lock up some intellectual rights.
Then the governing body of the new code, The International Commission, should ask all the soccer associations around the world if they would like send a national team to compete in the International Code. Then they should ask all the rugby union associations.
Perhaps a couple of rule changes might be introduced as concessions to the new countries. For example, International could adopt soccer’s yellow card and red card system. But not the off-side rule! Maybe a scrum element? Last of all, they should invite the Americans to submit a national Gridiron team.
This meta-strategy will be much more successful for the AFL than trying to establish its own code in other countries. These are team sports we’re talking about. Why would an English kid want to play AFL when all his mates play soccer? The best athletes want to play the highest status game. And experience so far is that elite players love the challenge of competing on another level.
If you promote International, you don’t need to do any grass roots development and you don’t need to maintain infrastructure but you still get a game which makes for very good television. For that reason, this sport will be very profitable. Its growth into other countries will fuel interest in Ireland, Australia, Gaelic, and Australian Rules Football.
But most important of all, the people of Ireland and Australia would share the experience of taking a game international.
There was some violent play in the last International between the two teams. It should be the objective of The International Commission to set the tolerance for violence much lower. The same should be done in Australian Rules. Although it adds a spark, it alienates mothers who then orientate their boys towards that other code that’s not so rough.
One way to do this is to modify the laws of the existing codes such that any penalty incurred in an International would be duplicated in the player’s principle domestic competition.
The International game is within reach lads and the two codes should run it between them. Of course, you can’t call the tournament the World Cup. It’s the Whole Fucking Dinner Set.