The traditional end-of-season International Pub Brawl Tour is not going well for Australia as this year's representatives - the Melbourne Demons - suffer a loss to the Swedes in host country Greece.
Despite automatic qualification - thanks to Brendan Fevola's heroic performance in Ireland last year - the Demons confirmed the suspicions of many that they were simply unprepared and unmotivated.
Selectors copped flak for the decision to send an undermanned Demons in to represent Aussie Rules on the tour, given star kicker Colin Sylvia was busy with photo shoots for a man-oriented erotic calendar.
Most commentators favoured sending the Fremantle Dockers, given the recent form of Chris Tarrant and Jeff Farmer. Freo demonstrated their capacity for brawling in Darwin earlier this year, considered by many the toughest venue in the domestic competition.
The AFL's other claimants to pub brawl representative status - the Brisbane Lions - were hampered in their selection by retirements and ongoing legal problems, despite their proven track record for overseas biffo.
The weaker Demons were soundly thrashed by visiting Swedes during the Greek leg of their three week tour. The AFL is not happy with this performance and has called them in for a "please explain":
Three Melbourne players - Nathan Carroll, Brock McLean and Jared Rivers - will be asked to explain their actions to the AFL club after becoming involved in a fight at a Greek nightclub.
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[Club chairman Paul] Gardner said he did not have full details of the incident, but had been told the three players were unhurt.
"We were very concerned with a lot of the rumours to have floated around first thing this morning," he said. (The Age, 14/9/2007)
While its unclear if the AFL is allowed to swap in a new club at this late stage, it's believed that Demons, at least, are convinced that they will continue to carry the flag for Australia for the remainder of the tour. Chairman Paul Gardner confidently stated "[W]e're pleased to report that they're all well, in fact all on their way now to Croatia."
In Croatia, Australia is scheduled to confront the Germans in a pitched battle over the reservation of deckchairs at a resort on the Dalmatian Coast. Success in this round is crucial if Australia is to avoid elimination.
While much of the sporting world's attention is focused on the Rugby World Cup, the International Brawls Series is considered the pinnacle event of organised violence and a key platform for promoting the AFL to a wider audience.
Things are looking up for Australia in the International Brawl Tour, with the Demons making an impressive showing during the Oktoberfest leg of the Tour. Considered by many the "minor premiership" of the Tour, Oktoberfest sees the cream of the world's drunken louts and biff-artists congregate in a paddock for a knock-down, drag-out session of alcohol and violence.
The Demons are believed to have acquitted themselves well in the latest confrontation, although details are still sketchy. No doubt the players are hoping that their performance at Oktoberfest will go some way to allaying criticism following their humiliation at the hands of the Swedes during the Greek leg of the Tour.
The Nine Network tonight reported [Brock] McLean and [Nathan] Carroll were involved in a fight in Germany while attending Oktoberfest celebrations.
McLean, Carroll and teammate Jared Rivers were all involved in a fight at a nightclub on the Greek island of Ios earlier this month.
However, Melbourne could not confirm the latest incident, as a club spokeswoman said Demons officials were yet to speak to either McLean or Carroll.
"We're aware of the all the allegations," she said.
"But we have no other information yet.
"Until we have all the information we won't be making any comment."
Melbourne chairman Paul Gardner said after the Greek incident he would be seeking a full explanation from the players, but said the club was unlikely to impose any sanctions. (The Age, 24/9/2007)
And well done to Channel Nine for reporting the Tour; despite the Rugby World Cup and other programming conflicts, they've continued their coverage of this exciting new competition.
Citations: The Age, 14/9/2007
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