Wednesday, 19 June 2013

So the British Lions tried their hand at AFL

Yes, it’s true: the touring British Lions played a game of AFL against Carlton at the MCG, in front of a crowd of more than 26,000.

Not the British Lions who just lost to the Brumbies, you understand, but the 1888 British Lions. Tours were obviously a bit more informal in those days.

So how did they do?

The visitors played the Australian game better than their most sanguine friends anticipated, for the fact may as well be admitted that on going into the field on Saturday, all that they knew of it practically had been picked up in two muff practice matches. In face of this, the task they were asked to perform in going into the field against such a team as the Carlton was an impossible one, and it becomes a matter for wonder how they managed to play as well as they did. At least half the team gave evidence of being naturally fitted to play our game, and it was surprise none of those who saw them play yesterday if by the close of their tour they are able to hold their own with the best of our seniors. At present they lack perfection in drop kicking, and made no attempt at marking from long kicks, in which the Carlton were so successful. Neither was there any of that roughness in their play which might have been expected from players so long accustomed to Rugby rules…

All but impossible to organise now, the game seems to have been enjoyed by all involved.

Similar experiment with the touring team on the New Zealand part of the tour however, where “several scratch matches at the Australian game have been played,” was sniffily dismissed by the New Zealand writer for the Weekly Press

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