Welcome to World Footy News Sunday, May 26 2024 @ 10:02 am ACST

A Third Way: International Rules in the USA

International Rules

As the GAA and the AFL debate beginning the International Rules series again, may I suggest a Third Way – a tri-nation series between Ireland, Australian and the USA played in the United States. By bringing USFooty, the North American GAA and the New York GAA into the series it would help to promote the game and the two codes – Australian football and Gaelic football in one of the largest economies in the world. It would also be likely to decrease the “tensions” associated with the previous series by putting the games in neutral territory, by being “a showcase” event for a new audience and by bringing in a third team that has not been involved in the earlier tiffs.

Obviously playing this series in the US would add additional complication to what is already a complicated experiment. Still, given that we are already experimenting with a hybrid game why not push things a little further? There could obviously be a great advantage to bringing the US into the series, but there are also concerns. However, some of the most obvious concerns are not really legitimate issues in this case. You can’t really count the US out because Australian football and Gaelic football are amateur sports in the US. Gaelic football is amateur everywhere. You also can’t count the US out because it is not a familiar game to US players – this hybrid game is as familiar to many US players as it is to Australian or Irish players and it may be more familiar to some US players because USFooty clubs have played North American GAA clubs in various International Rules games over the years. I can’t vouch for the quality of North American GAA players, but one suspects that there are many very talented players in the US. I am certainly willing to admit that American USFooty players still have some work to do, but even still players like the Brunmeier boys have shown that Americans can play Australian football at a high standard. Still, in order to make the match up even there may be a willingness to give the US a little bit more freedom in choosing a side than the AFL or GAA may have. For example, the US team could be made up of representatives from US leagues in both sports without necessarily being US citizens.

It is not obvious to me that the North American GAA and the New York GAA will be willing to join USFooty in putting together a team and hosting a tournament but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. My guess is that USFooty would jump at the chance to be involved in a series with the AFL and GAA and would also enjoy teaming with the US GAA leaders. In regards to the North American GAA and the New York GAA, my guess is that they may be willing to consider this proposal. The economic boom in Ireland and post-9/11 immigration reform in the US have put a crimp in the ability of US Gaelic football leagues to fill their rosters with Irish players. I’m sure many are looking out at the general US population and considering the possibility of introducing the game beyond the Irish diaspora. USFooty has never had the luxury of a large US-based Australian population and so would be excited to further expose the game to potential players and fans.

A US-based series would be a great opportunity for Irish brands such as Setanta Sports, Guinness and Kerrygold and Australia brands such as Fosters, Qantas and Westfield Shopping Centers to push their products in the United States. The games can also be carried to large TV audiences in the Australia and Ireland. Afternoon games in the US can be watched early in the morning Australian time and in the evening in Ireland. Finding quality accommodations for such games would be straightforward given the field is similar to those used by soccer, rugby and American football.

It looks like the AFL and the GAA are beginning to move forward to set up a new series between the two leagues. Australian and Irish leaders should consider a third way. Consider inviting USFooty, the North American GAA and the New York GAA to put together a team to represent the US and allow these leagues to host the best of the AFL and the GAA here in the United States of America.

Editor (Brett): Note this is very similar to an idea put forward on WFN several years ago by Peter Parry (see "Inter-Rules" - The Future? and International Rules - living up to the name: New York), but certainly worth re-visiting for those who feel IR is a way forward for Aussie Rules expansion (I'm probably slightly on the negative side on this one but that's just my personal opinion).