Long live the rules series

Sean Boylan on RTE complaining about rough play – there hasn’t been anything as funny on TV since they stopped making episodes of Father Ted.

What a bunch of sad, miserable, spoilt, whingers we have become.

Ireland lost the Rules series because the Aussies were better. Much better. Way, way, way better. 

The idea that the Aussies were responsible for the rough stuff is nonsense. In the first match in Galway all the rough stuff came from the Irish. Aussies were pushed into the hoardings. Aussies were taken out of it during ‘give-and-go’ moves in classic Tyrone/Armagh style. And an Aussie got a knee in the head for his trouble.

They never laid a finger on us. And we were still crap. Only when the antipodean’s minds had moved on to the after match pints did we manage to sneak a goal in the last minute.

Colm O’Rourke in the RTE studio had the guts to call the thuggery both ways. He cited Irish head butts and kicks on the ground. Viewers could clearly see an Irish player elbow an Aussie off the ball.

But what did we get? A self-pitying whinge-fest on Monday morning about those nasty Australians and why the whole thing should be called off.

Most of the commentary centred on the fighting as if fighting is in the rules of the Rules. It isn’t. Intimidation isn’t part of the rules. So what do people suggest the solution is when people break the rules? They want the whole series called off.


Was the Lions tour called off after the spear tackle on Brian O’Driscoll?

Was Manchester United disbanded when one of their French players launched a Kung-fu kick at an unpleasant member of the audience?

The National Hockey League is going great guns despite the occasional all-in mill. Should Ice hockey be banned?

No, that’s not what grown up, intelligent people do. What they do is confront the problem. And the problem with International Rules is that the rules are not enforced. Unbelievably, nobody was sent off for the fighting on Sunday week. And because incidents in the series do not carry over into the respective country’s domestic games, players have little to lose from a bout of hand-to-hand combat.

There’s the solution. If Irish players could be banned from one or more games in next year’s championships, fighting would be a lot rarer. Ditto with the Australians (and it would cost them money too).

Actually the most depressing thing about the series was how the Aussies beat us hands down at Gaelic football. They were better at kicking the ball over the bar. That’s where the real soul-searching should be.

Over the past five or six years the International Rules series has produced good positive football. And the fans love it. 82,000 paying customers is an amazing achievement.

I think it’s a great series. Sort out the discipline and it’s the best brand of football in the world. Better than the sum of both our football games and better than all the rest.