Friday 9 December 2016

International Rules Series will return in 2017 with one big change

Published 21/11/2016 | 14:50

Aidan O’Shea, Ireland, celebrates after scoring Ireland’s first goal in last year's encounter
Aidan O’Shea, Ireland, celebrates after scoring Ireland’s first goal in last year's encounter

The International Rules Series between Ireland and Australia will return in 2017 and will return to a two-test format.

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Despite the success of one-off tests in Perth in 2014 and in Dublin last year, the series will be played out over two tests in Australia next year on November 11 and 18, with the winner decided on the aggregate score.

Following last Saturday’s Central Council meeting, the GAA and the AFL have also agreed in principle to play a two-Test series back in Ireland in 2019.

Venues and times for the games have yet to be announced.

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail said: "We are pleased to confirm the re-instatement of a two-game series commencing next year in Australia when Joe Kernan will bring the Irish team down under.

"We believe the two-game series is a logical development after the success of the last two single games series, given the distances involved and the potential to generate even more momentum around the games.

"We look forward to renewing rivalries with the best the AFL has to offer and we acknowledge the progress made in recent months with our AFL counterparts in helping to confirm the plans for 2017."

AFL General Manager Football Operations Mark Evans said it was the AFL’s view that the commitment to field a team comprised only of All-Australian players, under the leadership of the best coaches in the AFL, had been crucial to the agreement to extend the series again, as Australia had to match Ireland’s commitment to fielding its best players.

“The one-off Test matches in Perth and Dublin over the last two years were two high-class encounters played in front of very strong crowds. Australian and Irish fans have shown they want to see a spectacular and competitive contest played between the most talented AFL players and Ireland’s best Gaelic footballers.

“Restricting selection to only a player who has earned All Australian selection through his AFL career has ensured the prestige of playing in the International Rules Series and we look forward to hosting the Irish side again next year.”

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