Rules changes to give 'International' game a shot in the arm
Changes to the way the game of international rules will be played in future have been designed to improve the competitiveness of the Australian teams.
With the series, hanging by a thread after the last two were won with embarrassing ease by Ireland, efforts to help it survive have resulted in changes to the kick-out, the mark, the number of hand passes allowed and an increase in the number of inter-change players permitted. In a statement yesterday the GAA confirmed the changes.
Goalkeepers must now kick the ball out beyond the 45m line after all wides, behinds and overs, which will help bring the taller players (and contested marks) into play.
The failure of a goalkeeper to kick over the 45m line will result in a free-kick to the opposition (from the 45m line). The number of consecutive hand passes allowed has been raised from four to six, while inter-changes have been increased to 15 per quarter (60 for the match) with an unlimited number allowed at the quarter, half and three quarter-time intervals.
Marks have been eliminated for backward kicks and 'play on' will be called in such circumstances.
The AFL recently reaffirmed their commitment to the ailing series, which will have just one Test in Perth on November 22 this year.
The AFL has confirmed that stars such as Patrick Dangerfield, Luke Hodge, Scott Pendlebury and Joel Selwood have already committed.
Australian interest in the series has declined in recent years and the selection of an indigenous team backfired as Ireland won the 2013 series by a record score.
There was almost unanimous opposition to the proposal made in the latest Football Review Committee document to continue the series. This was due for discussion at a special Central Council meeting last month, but was taken off the agenda until after the November test. No series has been scheduled beyond 2014.