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The GAA could learn a trick from the rules of the Rules

Michael Murphy indulges in a game of keepy-uppy with Aidan O'Shea during Ireland squad training yesterday Picture by ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

THE concept of the International Rules series (IRS) has been the source of good old GAA debates for many years.

The elements of elitism, expense and strange rules/format are the perfect ingredients that make sure the cynics can have a field day. For me, as with everything in life, anything that is new and different presents learning opportunities and a chance to reflect on things from a different viewpoint.

The IRS presents some interesting food for thought in this regard if we stop for a minute to see it.

One of the biggest issues in our own game is the lack of consistent interpretation of the tackle.

The compromise series takes its tackle from the AFL which is commonly referred to as a ‘rugby’ tackle.

To me, it looks like a pretty crude way of tackling, but the fact it is clearly defined means there is much less controversy and issue with referee calls.

The presence of this type of tackle really forces the Irish players to think on their feet.

Normal passes into space increase the likelihood of being ‘wrapped’. The need for inch-perfect passes that are taken on the full is one of the biggest challenges in the game.

The other issue which doesn’t go down well at home is players not taking possession if they are about to be wrapped.

Instead, they palm the ball away or ‘soccer it’ as you can only be tackled when in full possession. In general, despite the tackle being better defined, I think the impact on style of play that the ‘rugby’ tackle necessitates would not be worth considering for our own game.

The rule regarding fist passes is something that has been mentioned in our own game on many occasions.

Over-use of the short passing game has always been viewed as a negative aspect, but in the era of possession football it remains a key strategy for teams.

In the IRS, teams are limited to six fist passes in-a-row and then they must kick it. If they don’t, a free is awarded against them.

This type of rule has been suggested before, however, it was seen as too difficult for referees to implement.

Seeing it in practice in this game, it appears completely workable. Extra fist passes soon stand out the way that someone taking extra steps does.

Speaking to the two Irish referees over here, they both say it is surprisingly easy to keep an eye on.

This is a rule that would be worth serious consideration in our own game and would be one of the methods of preventing the slow lateral play or playing out of games where teams just maintain possession with a string of short passes.

Another rule which would be very easy to implement and one which would be a positive move is that when a free is given the ball must be given straight back to the appropriate player ‘on the full’ – ie not rolled or bounced on the ground, not given to the side or behind, not thrown up in the air nor given to the referee.

This type of petty play is part and parcel of our game, yet this simple rule immediately does away with it. It is black and white. The ball must go straight back to the player. Any deviation from this and the ball gets moved forward 15-20 metres.

A simple process and players adapt straight away.

I have mentioned before in this column that a rule change being considered by the GAA is the use of rolling subs with no limit. This is evident in the AFL and is used in the IRS.

It is interesting to see the effect of this within the team. We have a 23-man squad out here, yet there is hardly any attention on the first 15 or subs.

Everyone will see significant game time. Everyone must be fully involved in the tactical sessions. It feels right that these players feel a full part of it.

The effort levels required in the modern game makes it even more jarring for some players to be left on benches and hardly used.

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