Aussie Football games – Rugby a poor cousin

The growing popularity of Australian Rules Football (AFL) seems unstoppable at the moment, so much so that two new teams have been launched in Western Sydney and the Gold Coast in recent years.

The AFL is the biggest money spinner among the football codes, raking in three times the revenue of the National Rugby League, four times that of soccer’s A-League and six times that of rugby union, according to a report published last month.

Rugby union pulled in a poultry A$70m last year in ticket sales, sponsorship, television rights and merchandise, compared with the A-League’s A$95m, National Rugby League’s A$185m and AFL’s A$425m.

The same report found AFL attracts by far the most spectators each season – 2.83m people attended at least one game in 2012, compared with 1.8m 15 years earlier.

Over the same period, the number of rugby league spectators increased from 1.4m to 1,5m, while rugby union grew from 358,000 to 575,000.

It’s hard to explain why this is, especially when considering the expansion of Super Rugby into Perth (Western Force) and Melbourne (Rebels) in recent years.

A lack of on-field success, however, might have something to do with it. Aside from winning the Tri-Nations in 2011, there has been little to cheer as a Wallabies supporter over the past decade.

We haven’t lifted the Webb Ellis Cup since 1999 at the Millennium Stadium and the All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003 – a quite frankly sickening fact.