- Dec 14, 2015
- AFL Club
No. It's quite a sad story for rugby. Rugby was the preferred game of the British (military) establishment in part because it was presented like opposing forces at war but football had little influence because it was confined to schools. Cricket was played by gentleman's clubs. The wealth of colonialists in Australia led to social change with the first being Saturday being given over to leisure. This moved colonial football from Melbourne schools into the community. For the first time football was played by the community in community football clubs in an organised competition over a fixtured season for the attainment of a premiership. The popularity of the colonial game led it to be played in enclosed grounds where attendance fees could be charged. This led to the payment of players and the further improvement of sporting infrastructure.Exactly right.
Colonial football spread quickly throughout the colonies. The British establishment first welcomed the game and then banned it, fearing it's popularity would overtake rugby. They shouldn't have worried. It was soccer that raced past rugby when soccer eventually when English soccer clubs developed modern strategies like passing the ball and the game no longer looked like rugby. The "fair catch" rule had been removed earlier. Soccer was picked up through the enterprise of the British Empire whilst rugby languished in the private schools of the British Empire. It took rugby an exorbitantly long time to become professional and by the time they did, it was much too late - rugby had completely blown their initial advantage.
Australian Rules Football and community football spread extremely quickly but was effectively halted by WWI and WWII and reduced to being played in Australia. Media coverage by the inventions of radio and television increased the popularly of sport generally but colour television really boosted elite sports whilst neglecting the also-rans. The introduction of payTV and now streaming has done little to advance the development of minor sports and caters mainly to the converted. Contrary to popular belief, the AFL does have targeted development through investment in various means. Otherwise development relies on the traditional 'organic' approach.