Wednesday, 28 February 2024
As we head into the first weekend of March, the AFL season kicks off with a double-header in Sydney.  Many readers would be able to list off some of the AFL prodigies the school has produced, including the likes of Leo Barry and Craig Nettelbeck. What is less well understood is the history of Australian Rules at the School. 
OIU Honorary Historian James Rogers takes up the story. 

OIU news: How far back does the connection between Australian Rules and Riverview go?

Rodgers:   Australian Rules was the only winter played at Riverview for the first 12 years from 1880. This was due in no small part to its founder, the Founder and Rector Father Joseph Dalton, who favoured AFL over Rugby. “Father Dalton did not like Rugby, he called it the Horrid Rugby Rule. He thought it was too dangerous and the field that was being used at the time called Top Field, wasn’t suitable because it was full of shingle and took skin off when anyone fell on it. Being Irish there might be a connection to Gaelic Football. There is also the probability he would have seen Australian Rules in Melbourne before he moved to Sydney."

The last season was in 1891 , when most of the games were forfeited at the Rector forbad any teams from travelling.  Riverview would have to wait 92 years before the game was played again. Anthony Lambert, Vice Captain of the 1984 XVIII, remembers the year well.

Lambert:   “It wasn’t easy getting the team together, my dad had to write a five page letter to  the Headmaster convince the school to start footy again. There was a group of my mates who played with the Willoughby Wildcats who made up the core of the team. Half of us were wearing Rugby jumpers and some of the mothers had cut the sleeves off.”

Looking forward, the games is in fine fettle at 'View and  with a string of Premierships in the Sydney Schools comp stretching back 10 years. 

OIU News asked former AFL Captain Andrew Wild (OR06) and Physio advisor to the current Riverview AFL team what has changed with the game at a schoolboy level?

 Q: A quick chat about your playing and work history and what the School is doing in terms of this new Australian Institute of Sport Concussion protocol.     

A:  I was a boarder from Wagga at Riverview and was in the First XVIII. But my playing days were cut short because of repeated concussions. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to become a physio and it's the reason why I had to retire from Australian rules football at the age of 20 in 2008. I just accumulated too many concussions and had significant symptoms after my alst concussion in 2008. After this experience, combined with my physio training, I developed a keen interest in concussion management.

Q:  Where is current research thinking on concussion.?

A:   According to research we have had for a while it seems like it takes on average 21 to 30 days for a human being to recover from a concussion. I've always thought that it needed to be a minimum three weeks out for an athlete after a concussion.7 - 12 days isn't long enough. And the other thing we need to discuss is a second concussion. If you have a second concussion within the period where you're not recovered from the first, the recovery increases to 90 to 120 days, which is three to four months!  So we've had this data for a long period of time, but I felt I feel like the codes have taken way too long to respond to this. 

Q:  What rules are you implementing at Riverview to mitigate the risk of injury or long term damage ?

A: I think the new AIS concussion protocols released last week should be universal. They should be universal across every single sport in Australia. And those protocols are that you need to be 14 days without symptoms before returning to contact training. And then your minimum period is 21 days or three weeks until the resumption of competitive contact or collision sport as a minimum.  

I think the other thing that needs to be mentioned, we don't have a concussion problem, because  sportspeople have always gotten concussions and always will. If  humans play contact sports, you will see concussions. What we have is a concussion management problem.

Q:   Final Question, being a Wagga boy, which pub ? Romanos or the Vic?. What's your favorite? 

A:  As a young guy and around the age of 18 probably Romanos over the Vic but I would say the Sporties now !.

Q:  Thanks for talking to OIU News Andrew and good luck with the season ?