|Abbreviation AFL GB|
|Founded 2008 (2008)|
|Sport Australian rules football|
Jurisdiction England, Wales, Scotland
Affiliation Australian Football League
AFL Britain, also referred to as AFL Great Britain was the governing body for Australian rules football in England, Wales and Scotland. It was formed in 2008, replacing the British Australian Rules Football League (BARFL) as national body. The BARFL's clubs formed AFL London upon creation of the new national body. In 2012, AFL Britain effectively renamed itself to AFL England as the British umbrella the body was working under was really ineffective across the whole of the UK (Scotland and Wales had their own autonomous body).
The AFL London and various regional English, Welsh and Scottish leagues, are all currently represented by the AFL Britain and, along with Wales and Scotland jointly supply players for the Great Britain Bulldogs representative side at the Australian Football International Cup.
British Australian Rules Football League
The BARFL was formed in 1989, with efforts from John Jelley and others seeing the formation of eight clubs for an inaugural season in 1990. The founding clubs were the London Hawks, West London Wildcats, North London Lions, Earls Court Kangaroos, Lea Valley Saints, Thames Valley Magpies and Wandsworth Demons in and around London and a club based in Leicester, the East Midland Eagles. Of the foundation teams, four still survive in West London, North London, Wimbledon (former London Hawks) and Wandsworth.
The inaugural game took place between the Earls Court Roos and Lea Valley Saints, with Tango tapping to JvdM who pumped it long to Donger for the first ever goal. The Roos prevailed 33.24.222 to 1.2.8.
Between 1990 and 2001, the league existed as one competition for all clubs, ranging from a high of 10 clubs in 1991 to a low of only 6 in 1998.
Divisional structure 2001-2007
In an environment where large numbers of Australians could be both a blessing (in terms of experience and teaching ability) and a curse (in terms of new clubs outside London finding it difficult to compete against the Australian expat-based London clubs), the league in 2001 divided teams into two leagues. The first league was the London Premiership, where the powerful London clubs would continue under the same local-content regulations as previously (i.e. quotas of British players who must be on the field at any time).
Beneath the London Premiership would be a London Conference, where the teams could field their 'reserve' sides, including the Clapham and Ealing teams which had been previously entered by Wandsworth and West London respectively. The London Conference has greatly relaxed 'local content' rules, meaning that backpackers and other Australians can compete at a social level.
In 2003, with new clubs being formed outside the capital and regional clubs still struggling against the larger numbers of Australians playing for the London sides, it was decided that clubs outside London would compete in a Regional Premiership. This included the Bristol Dockers, St Helens Miners and the two new sides in the Doncaster Saints and Reading Kangaroos.
In 2004, a fourth division of the BARFL appeared, with the Scottish Australian Rules Football League forming. In the inaugural season, three clubs played each other for the premiership, the Edinburgh Old Town Bloods, the Edinburgh Uni Body Snatchers and the Glasgow Sharks.
2007 saw the introduction of a third tier of football in the London region, known as the Social Division. This division was formed for the same reasons as the Conference division, with some of the larger clubs being unable to field their full player lists in two teams resulting in some fiedling more than one team in the Conference.
Due to a number of contributory factors, including the developments initiated by Aussie Rules UK and the changing nature of the sport across the country, 2008 saw the BARFL rebranded and redeveloped to become AFL Britain, an organisation with less direct control over football in London but a greater ability to support the game to grow both in and outside the capital.
In 2010, the AFL Britain will have four affiliated leagues, the AFL London, AFLB North, AFLB Central, AFLB South. In addition, the organisation maintains close communication with the Scottish ARFL and Welsh ARFL, who are independent bodies overseeing footy in their respective countries.
During the season of 2012, it was decided by the AFL Britain Committee that it was best to rename to be more focused on football within the England domain. This would also assist with National Governing Body status from Sport England. As AFL Britain mainly looked after affairs to do with football in England, it was felt it would be more relevant. This would sit aside the other AFL leagues such as Scottish ARFL, Welsh ARFL in the UK and with AFL Ireland in Ireland.
The AFL London features eight clubs, fielding a total of over 24 teams across three divisions - the London Premiership (1sts), London Conference (2nds) and London Social League (3rds).
The restructure of the BARFL in 2001 saw the London-based clubs form the London Premiership, and the regional clubs break off to form their own league. The new structure also enabled London clubs to field reserve grade teams, forming the London Conference. Prior to this, two BARFL Premiership clubs, the Wandsworth Demons from 1999 and the West London Wildcats in 2000, had fielded second teams in the main division. These teams, the Clapham Demons and the Shepherds Bush Raiders became founding members of the Conference.
In 2007, a third level of competition was created, the London Social League. Some teams from outside London have competed in the Social League, including Manchester and Nottingham who transferred to the Central & North West League in 2010, and the Bristol Dockers who continue in the Social League.
The BARFL Premiership became part of the new AFL London structure for the start of the 2008 season as part of the AFL Britain restructure, becoming in the process a competition solely aimed at those clubs in or around the London Region.
The BARFL Regional Premiership commenced in 2003, and ran until it was absorbed into the BARFL's 3rd division Social League at the start of the 2007 season. The Aussie Rules UK 9-a-side National League began in 2007, featuring teams in a number of regional divisions. This then combined with the AFL Britain in 2010, to form the AFL Britain North East, Central & North West and Southern Divisions.
Great Britain national team
AFL Britain also co-ordinate a representative team, the British Bulldogs, who have competed at the Australian Football International Cup, in the Atlantic Alliance Cup and against other national sides in European test matches.