Australian rules football in the United States

Sport overview
country = United States
sport = Australian rules football


imagesize = 260px
caption =
union = USAFL
nickname = Revolution
first = 28 September 1996, Cincinnati
registered = 2,000 (total)
2,000 (adult)
clubs = 28
match = 14,787 (1990). Melbourne v. West Coast (Civic Stadium, Portland)
league =
national1 = USAFL
club1 = Mid American Australian Football League
club2 = North West Pacific Australian Football League
club3 = Eastern Australian Football League
club4 = Golden Gate Australian Football League
country

Australian rules football in the United States is a team and spectator sport which has been played domestically in the United States since 1996.There are several leagues around the country, a national championship and a national men's and women's teams.

History

A lack of exposure and the popularity of American Football in the states ensured that the game of Australian Football remained virtually unknown in the United States for many decades.

Emergence from obscurity

In 1947, games of Austus, a compromise game between Gridiron and Aussie rules were played in Australia between servicemen of both countries in the Australian city of Geelong. The visiting Americans were reported to be excited by the Australian game.

Exhibition matches

From the 1960s, several attempts were made to kickstart Aussie Rules interest in the United States. Between the 1960 and 1990s, Victorian Football League exhibition matches were played in major US cities.

In 1965, former Victorian Football League player Colin Ridgeway was recruited by the Dallas Cowboys and played a total of 3 games as a punter. Although he became the first Australian to make such a transition but did not have much impact in the NFL.

1980s - television and ESPN

Television was the biggest breakthrough for Aussie Rules Footy in the United States.In the 1980s, sports channel ESPN began televising Australian Rules matches.

The first American born player in the AFL, Don Pyke (who moved to Western Australia in his youth) debuted for the West Coast Eagles in 1989 and later that year, the first African-American born player Sanford Wheeler debuted for the Sydney Swans.

1990s - punt into America

In 1995, Darren Bennett - former Melbourne Football Club player was recruited by the San Diego Chargers. He went on to become one of the most successful punters in the history of the NFL. His popularity as an ex-Australian also considerably increased the awareness of Australian Rules in the US, as excerpts of him kicking goals in the VFL were sometimes shown on American television. Since Bennett, other Aussie Rules players have followed, having a small effect of exposing the Australian game to Americans.

Against the flow, Essendon Football Club coach Kevin Sheedy enticed former Oakland Raiders National Football League player Dwayne Armstrong to switch codes to Australian Rules. The experiment was largely unsuccessful, with Armstrong not debuting at senior level, but nevertheless created media interest in Australia about the possibility of American athletes playing the Australian game.

:See Also List of Australian Rules to Gridiron Converts

First local games

The first match between two local US clubs was played in 1996 between Cincinnati and Louisville. [ [http://www.midfooty.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24&Itemid=50 MAAFL League History] ] In the first year the Mid American Australian Football League was formed.Many of the local players had found out about the game in the 1980s on television and ESPN. Although the local game grew, ESPN no longer broadcast AFL matches, and in response the lobby group AFANA was formed.

In 1997, the first club national championships were held in Cincinnati. Nashville hosted the first Australian Grand Final Festival in the same year. The United States Australian Football League (USAFL) was formed in 1997 to govern the code in the country.

New millennium - international representation and steady growth

A national team, the Revolution, formed in 1999 to compete against nearby Canada in the 49th Parallel Cup and was for a time coached by AFL legend Paul Roos.

In the same year, a record crowd of 1,000 attended an MAAFL match between the Nashville Kangaroos and Chicago Swans at Nashville in Tennessee.Fact|date=April 2007

In 2001, the first college Aussie Rules club began in Vanderbilt University. In the following years, several new clubs emerged in universities across the state, many of them affiliated with USAFL clubs. The Revolution competed in the 2002 Australian Football International Cup with an All-American side and finished fifth out of eleven countries.

In 2002, the Australian Football League began to recognise the potential of the USA as a pool of talent and began providing a small amount of international funding to the USAFL. An offshoot was the US Footy Kids junior program, with strong similarities to AFL Auskick.

In 2003, clear weather at a Nashville homegame against the St Louis Blues and Kangaroos saw the match set a new league crowd record. [ [http://www.midfooty.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24&Itemid=50 MAAFL - Mid American Australian Football League - MAAFL History ] ]

In 2005, the Revolution attended the 2005 International Cup finishing third out of ten countries. The first College Invitational was held, hosted by Vanderbilt University and won by the University of North Carolina Australian Rules Football Club.

In 2005, the USAFL struck a deal with the ASTN television station for rights to the game, however although the station has filmed local matches, they have not been televised.

Also in that year, Ben Graham joined the New York Jets, bringing media exposure for the Australian sport. On a multi-million NFL contract, Graham joined with the local New York Magpies club in fundraising activities.

In January 2006, an AFL promotional pre-season match was played in Los Angeles at UCLA between the Kangaroos and league premiers the Sydney Swans, it attracted a crowd of 3,200.

Saverio Rocca debuted in the NFL in 2007 as a punter, bringing media exposure for the Australian game. [ [http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071007/SPORTS02/710070402/1022&theme= Adjusting to Eagles not easy for Rocca] from delawareonline.com]

Kevin Sheedy and Stephen Silvagni visited in 2007 on a tour of North America as AFL ambassador, attending the USAFL Nationals. [ [http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,22593552-23211,00.html Sheedy proves a hit in US] from news.com.au]

Notable Players in the VFL/AFL

* Tom Banks (Fitzroy 1892)
* Don Pyke (West Coast Eagles 1989-1996)
* Sanford Wheeler (Sydney Swans 1989-1994)
* Dwayne Armstrong (Essendon reserves 1996)

Governing body

The governing body for Aussie Rules in the United States is US Footy.

National team

The national team is the Revolution.

Major tournaments

*49th Parallel Cup
*Australian Football International Cup
*Bermuda Australian rules football Championships
*Barassi International Australian Football Youth Tournament

Domestic representative tournaments

*USAFL National Championships
*USAFL East vs West
*National Collegiate Invitational [http://www.vandyAussierules.com/collegenationals/nowintheusa.htm 2005 National Collegiate Invitational Website]

Participation

In 2004, there were 855 senior players in 38 active clubs. [ [http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php?story=20041220202559972 World Footy Census 2004 - North America] ] By 2006, the league has grown to 40 affiliated clubs, making up 60 teams and 2,000 players [ [http://www.aarfl.com/images/stories/usafl_2006_annual_report.pdf USAFL Annual Report] ] , of which 1,048 were registered USAFL players and 340 USAFL sanctioned matches were played. Of the 709 players who competed at the USAFL National Championships, 77.4% were non-Australian, and over 60% were American.The 2007 AFL International Census did not indicate any growth to these figures over 2006. [ [http://www.afl.com.au/Portals/0/afl_docs/2007_International_Census_Sheet_240807.pdf AFL International Census 2007] ]

Leagues

Men's

*United States Australian Football League
**Mid American Australian Football League (MAAFL)
**North West Pacific Australian Football League
**Eastern Australian Football League
** [http://www.ggafl.com Golden Gate Australian Football League]

Women's

*Women's Australian Football Association

:See also Metro Footy Leagues

Former leagues

*Many of the CAFL's clubs and former players still compete, either in the SCAFL or GGAFL. The SEAFL and NEAFL formed the EAFL.
**Californian Australian Football League
**South East Australian Football League
**North East Australian Football League

Aussie rules in U.S. schools

College Aussie rules

*Arizona State University Australian rules football Club
*Belmont University Australian rules football Club
*Middle Tennessee State University Australian rules football Club
*North Carolina State University Australian rules football Club [http://www.ncsu.edu/stud_orgs/footy/ Official Site]
*Ohio State University Australian rules football Club
*University of North Carolina Australian Rules Football Club [http://www.unc.edu/uncfooty/]
*University Of Missouri Australian rules football Club
*University of South Florida Australian rules football Club [http://www.myspace.com/usffooty Official Site]
*University of Texas Australian rules football Club
*University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Australian rules football Club [http://www.uwm.edu/StudentOrg/footy/intro.htm Official Site]
*Vanderbilt University Australian rules football Club [http://www.vanderbilt.edu/CampusRecreation/clubs/Aussie_Rules.html Official Site]

High school Aussie rules

*Las Lomas High School

Formation senior clubs

As yet, not all geographical regions in the US are represented by clubs.Many clubs, in the formative stages are looking for players in order to compete in the USAFL National Championships or field Metro leagues.The advent of the Internet has greatly facilitated the growth of the sport in the United States.

Audience

Television

Since 2006, due to growing demand and lobbying by the AFANA, Aussie Rules began playing live matches on television in the United States.Australian rules has a nominal but growing international audience. According to Roy Morgan Polls 7,496,000 North Americans watch Australian Rules Football at least occasionally on television. [Globalisation of Sport Report 2005] This number is twice as many as watch the sport on television in Australia, but tiny by US standards.Fact|date=April 2007

*USAFL - All Sports Television Network (ASTN)
*AFL - Setanta Sports (STS), MHz Networks

Attendance records

Local competition

*1,000 (2004). (Mid American Australian Football League). Nashville Kangaroos vs Chicago Swans - Nashville, Tennessee. (source MAAFL)Fact|date=April 2007

Exhibition matches

*14,787 (1990). Melbourne v. West Coast (Civic Stadium, Portland)

ee also

*USAFL
*AFANA

References

External links

* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_hqosNvv5E Video of Aussie Rules] from YouTube


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