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Why the UK is the place for sport in 2015

Why the UK is the place for sport in 2015

2015 is set to be a vintage year for sports-minded Aussies in the UK. The cricket world cup win would be enough to get you through even in a bad year, but with the Ashes set to take place in dear old Blighty as a follow-up, things could hardly be any better. Winning an Ashes series away always counts double. With the poms in a state of terminal muddle and our boys riding high the prospect could hardly be better. There is every reason to look ahead to an English summer to remember. For informational purposes the games will take place between July 8 and August 24 - always assuming the last test goes to five days.

Rugby's Looking Good

But if cricket-flavoured pom bashing is too tame a pastime for you, you'll be pleased to learn that there are some good old Aussie staples taking root in the UK that will give you plenty of scope to flex some alternative sporting muscles. We all know about the popularity of rugby over here, and depending on whether or not you like to see the ball moving around the park or you just get off on watching big men fall on top of one another there is plenty to keep followers of both codes happy. Remember, the South Sydney Rabbitohs put 39 unanswered points on the board against St Helens in the final of the World Club Series final back in February. Let's not forget the Rugby (Union) World Cup is taking place in the UK over the course of the Autumn.

Given a decent summer weather-wise there is every reason for an Aussie to look ahead to that tournament every bit as optimistically as the cricket. As long as the pitches stay in good shape the Wallabies should be well worth watching. Obviously the Kiwis are the hot favourites to win the thing, but beyond that, with the Northern hemisphere sides all much of a muchness any Aussie game you can get to should be well worth watching. It all gets underway on September 18 and at the time of writing there are still tickets available for some games, although tickets for the group matches against England on October 3 and Wales a week later are about as rare as hens' teeth.

Aussie Rules Taking Off

Away from the big professional games you'll be delighted to discover that Aussie Rules is alive and well in the UK. Naturally there are plenty of ways to keep up to date with what is happening back home in terms of the Premiership and the Brownlow Medal - in fact there are even UK bookmakers who'll quote you a price on just about anything you want - including those Aussie Rules fixtures that lie closer to home. They'll certainly be happy to take your money if you're going to back against Hawthorne, but that's another story.

Since 1989 there have actually been formally regulated AFL leagues up and down the country. There's an estimated 3,600 players and whilst the standard may not be all that you might hope for, if you're missing a taste of home, or just want to catch up with some fellow ex-pats the games are well worth trotting along to. Sides are quite often affiliated to universities so they tend not to be all that relaxed when it comes to playing ringers, so if you fancy showing off your talents it is probably worth doing some homework rather than just turning up with your boots. In fairness, that approach is usually not a bad bet when it comes to cricket or rugby where the ethos is still pretty old school, family oriented and welcoming, and away from the university circuit - again - things do tend to be more free fall.

Perhaps not entirely surprisingly, the greatest concentration of clubs is around London and the South East, so all the usual rules apply in terms of London being the place where most of what happens takes place. Slightly bizarrely there is also a British national team - the Bulldogs. That just doesn't seem quite right somehow, but it is a real thing - honest! Here's a link.

Go For it Yourself - and Get Muddy

Alternatively, if you fancy going off-piste this year there are any number of really great out-or-leftfield events taking place that are well worth checking out. Things like the Maldon Mud Race or the Tough Mudder Challenge don't require anything in the way of particular skills or attributes. They're just ridiculous excuses to get covered in mud, push yourself to the limits and compete with a bunch of like-minded souls whilst you're doing it. There are no shortage of events out there. Your mate Mr Google will tell you all need to know.

Events like these are all the rage currently - something to do with all that boot camp fitness fad that's so in vogue. But for some reason these events are turning into a kind of informal meeting forum for Aussie ex-pats. Whatever else you might encounter, you will be just about guaranteed to run into one or to like-minded souls taking in these slightly whacky examples of the local culture.

So whether you are determined to follow the national teams in the cricket or the rugby world cup, or whether you are simply out to enjoy yourself and get stuck in to what the locals have to offer, there is plenty to look forward to in the months ahead. 2015 may be in the process of being talked up back home as the year when the housing bubble burst, and there may be all sorts of doom-laden stories flying around about what Shane Warne is doing to the next generation of Aussie cricketers. But for an Aussie in the UK there really is great deal to look forward to in 2015.