Alternate History of Australian Rules Football FINALE.

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Teimy

Draftee
Jan 14, 2021
10
13
AFL Club
St Kilda
Big Footy, we meet again.
Welcome to the second installment of my ‘Alternate History of Australian Rules Football’ mini-series.
If you have not read the first chapter please do so following this link https://www.bigfooty.com/forum/threads/alternate-history-of-australian-rules-football.1253604/
In the last Chapter I spoke about ‘The brief history of Association Rules Football’ pinpointing key moments in the game's growth internationally up until 1978.

So now I would like to introduce to you Chapter 2

“The Super League”
With the 1978 World Cup coming to an end, it was time for some of the Worlds big players to capitalize on its success. Introducing Rupert Murdoch.

Rupert Murdoch attempted to create his own league, trying to take the Australian market for the game, but failed due to a lack of talent available, mainly due to the growing strength of the VFL, which by now had taken up all of the top tier talent in Australia. So Murdoch and his group looked elsewhere to form this League, finally deciding to create a new league in the Northern Hemisphere, a league that would combine the best talent from Ireland and England (The two strongest Nations apart from Australia). This new league would be called the ‘Super League’. With the first season taking place in 1979.

One of the main issues the Super League faced was a smaller pool of talent compared to Australia. While England and Ireland produced super stars of the game in their own right, the gap between Pro and Semi Pro was too large to make a league capable of competing with the AFL. Young talent preferring to go to Australia rather than staying in Europe had been a large increasing trend within the local European Football ecosystem. The VFL was slowly swooping up all of the best European talent. So Murdoch came up with an excellent idea, turning the game completely Pro in England and Ireland much like the VFL had and began competing for players with larger salaries. They also picked up many WAFL and SANFL players and Coaches offering them more to come to the Super League over the VFL. By the time the first bounce of the new Super League was set to happen the league's player demographics were as followed.
  • 30% Australian
  • 40% British
  • 30% Irish
The Super League took many years before it established itself as a true alternative to the VFL viewing experience. There was the creation of the ‘Champions of the World Cup’ with the winner of the VFL taking on the winner of the Super League in a yearly fixture. Super League sides while initially competitive with VFL sides winning 3 of the first 5, slowly fell in competitiveness in the fixture losing to VFL pre season squads while sporting best 22s with their top tier talent.

Over time Australian players were once again swayed to compete in Australia with the rapid growth of the AFL in the 80s. Once again European born players were being scouted to come to Australia. The biggest name of which was Jim Stynes, touted as the best player to ever play outside of Australia. The Super League were forced to put large investments into their youth systems, just so they could produce players faster than AFL clubs could buy them. It was in the late 90s that the Super League also began offering New Zealand Football League and South African Football League players big money contracts.
By this point the Super League no longer resembled a European based league, but now resembled a mashup of all of the best non Australian players they could get. The Super Leagues demographics by the turn of the century were as followed:
  • 50% British and Irish
  • 50% Rest of World.
Now every second player was non British or Irish. This however turned the product into a more competitive environment, with the Super League now being considered the second best League in the world. Taking the mantle from GAA Football (The Irish League).

While international Test Matches and World Cups became more competitive Australia still dominated the sport in the early 80s up until the mid 2000s.

World Cup Results are as followed

  • 1982 Australia (Australia)
  • 1986 England (Ireland)
  • 1990 India (Australia)
  • 1994 Australia (Australia)
  • 1998 Ireland (Australia)
  • 2002 South Africa (England)
  • 2006 New Zealand (Australia).

Although it may not seem like it, the game would once again shift, with Europe slowly becoming stronger and stronger. Post this period of time Australia would not again win a World Cup until 2022. Their longest streak without winning a world cup in history.

Chapter 3
“The Modern Era”

The 2010 World Cup proved to be the most intriguing World Cup to date, New Zealand winning their second World cup since 1974. Mainly due in part to the influx of players from New Zealand now playing in the Super League.

This was a sign of things to change as the majority of the New Zealand National team now played in the Super League. Prior to this the side was made mostly of NZFL players and some AFL players. The UK and Ireland were now producing top tier players at a rate that rivaled Australia. The Super League also were first to begin scouting players in smaller regions of the world, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Jamiaca. AFL clubs while having dabbled in these exports did not prioritise it, rather building players in their own youth systems. This proved costly for the AFL with Super League teams now capable of defeating AFL clubs in the yearly ‘Champions of the World Cup” match. The 2014 World Cup proved to be another eye opener for Australia with Ireland defeating the Australians 120-66 in the final.

The lead up to the 2018 World Cup once again showed this poor choice of the AFL to neglect international talent with England defeating New Zealand in the Final. Just the second time in history Australia had not even made it to the final itself.

Some key matches that changed the public perception of the strength of the Australian National side and AFL.
  • South Africa defeating Australia for the first time in Australia. 88-55
  • New Zealand defeating Australia in Australia two times in a row 2019 Anzac test 67-64 and the 2019 end of season test 92-80.
  • Ireland beating Australia 5 times in a row.

Another key thing to note is Super League teams defeating AFL teams 6 of the past 8 Champions of the World Cup matches.

It was all but said, the Super League was now the most dominant league in the world.
With Australia now putting emphasis on scouting the Pacific Islands, with now 5 Fijian and 10 Papua New Guinean players in youth systems around Australia things are looking grim for the next few years of competition for the Aussies. In 2020 Australia sacked its coach after only beating 1 top tier nation side out of a possible 4 matches.

As of January 1st 2021 the World Rankings are as followed
  1. England
  2. Ireland
  3. New Zealand
  4. Australia
  5. South Africa
  6. Wales
  7. India
  8. Scotland
  9. Papua New Guinea
  10. Fiji

Thank you for reading my fun little alternate history. Things kind of moved abit quick at the end but I hope you enjoyed it.
Please let me know in the comments what your thoughts are and if you would like me to expand on certain aspects of the story. Maybe a history of the Super League series?

Ciao for now everyone, stay safe. - Tim
 

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