Brydon Coverdale on Australia in South Africa 2008-09 February 20, 2009

Aussie Rules in South Africa?

Is there no escape from the AFL

Is there no escape from the AFL? Understandably the football code dominates the sporting pages in southern Australian newspapers during the winter but even in summer an inordinate number of back pages are splashed with stories of off-season football dramas, when cricket should be the sport of the moment.

You'd think that travelling halfway around the world to South Africa would be enough to escape the clutches of Aussie Rules. But at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom, the Australian cricketers were greeted by a familiar logo on the advertising boards where several signs promoted "AFL South Africa", making the venue seem as much like a rural football oval as an international cricket ground.

It seems that Aussie Rules is one of 11 recognised sports on the roster at the North-West Academy of Sport located in the city. AFL teams have plundered the Gaelic football leagues in Ireland in recent years to find athletic players who can switch codes, and the league is keen to stretch its tentacles to South Africa as well.

But while several of the Australian players were keen to find out the scores in the pre-season football competition back home – my team Carlton beat Ricky Ponting's North Melbourne while the first day of the tour match was being played – there's not much chance AFL will be dominating the sports pages of tomorrow's Potchefstroom Herald.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here