The International Rules game between Australia and Ireland was played on Saturday evening in Croke Park with Ireland winning 56-52. This particular concept has gone through a number of changes since it became an annual event. In more recent years, the series has seen a number of players involved in fights during each of the games that were played.
2006 saw the International Rules series reach a crucial point after a number of incidents one of which saw Graham Geraghty end up with a broken jaw and also there were a number of unsavoury incidents with both sides contributing to a very poor spectacle that saw many call for the Series to be ended.
The concept of the International Rules is an interesting one that see’s the marrying of two codes into one , with different aspects and rules from each code brought together to give you a hybrid game. The game is broken into 4 quarters 18 minutes in duration. The mark is used along with the “45” and also a goal keeper is employed like in GAA, where in AFL there is no goal keeper.
On the last three occasions that Ireland have taken on Australia in 2013 , 2014 and 2015 , the series has only had one game where it had been a two game series and let’s be honest it was far more competitive as a two game series. The reason for dropping it back to one game is a valid one to see was there an appetite for the concept from both the Australian and Irish sides.
In 2013 the Series seemed doomed when Australia sent a team over of just indigenous players and they were hammered as Ireland scored over 100 points. Discussions then took place to see whether or not this concept was worth pursuing. It was given one match in 2014 and after a really competitive that saw Ireland lose by 10 points out in Perth.
2015 saw Ireland face Australia on a very significant date in Irish history, November 21st 1920, 14 people were shot dead while watching a Football match between Dublin and Tipperary, one of those shot was Tipperary captain Michael Hogan after whom the Hogan Stand is named. Back to the International Rules, ask many of the players that have played in any of the Series and they will tell you that they love playing against each other.
One major problem that the series does have from an Irish perspective is that it clashes with a number of club games where certain Irish players have to make a choice between club or country. Not an easy choice to make, the Australians are now facing into an off season whereas certain Irish players are going to playing with their clubs until Christmas time. The GAA already has a clogged calendar that see’s both club teams and inter county teams going long periods without games and that in turn mean’s players go long periods without games.
If the GAA want this Series to stay then they need to find a solution to the fixture congestion and also figure out what they want from the Series, Two games would be competitive and give the Series meaning, one game is a straight shoot out and that would mean that if one team has a strong start the game could be over by half time.
In this author’s humble opinion, it would be in the best interests of both the GAA and AFL to find an amicable solution that will see this wonderful concept continue long into the future…
Cian Mc Gibney