Monday 10 December 2018

Fresh fears 'physical' Aussies might overstep mark

'Brad Beitzel said that he feared Australia might overstep the physicality mark in an effort to ensure that a squad of top professionals weren't beaten by amateurs.' (stock image)
'Brad Beitzel said that he feared Australia might overstep the physicality mark in an effort to ensure that a squad of top professionals weren't beaten by amateurs.' (stock image)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Stand by for confrontation - the Australians are coming to get the Irish in Sunday's first International Rules Test in Adelaide.

That's the concern expressed by the son of the man who pioneered the link-up between Gaelic football and Australian Rules 50 years ago.

Brad Beitzel said that he feared Australia might overstep the physicality mark in an effort to ensure that a squad of top professionals weren't beaten by amateurs.

"One of the anxieties I have about the two Tests - and I know it's a constant part of the narrative - is the Australians becoming too physical. It doesn't honour the tradition of the game and I think a couple of times we have been lucky that the Irish agreed to come back. The Irish are fantastic athletes but they have a different form of contact," said Beitzel.

"I just hope that the players and officials from the AFL respect that and that there are no more fights and, if there are, they will be followed up with heavy penalties because they disgrace the game."

His father, Harry, who died last month at the age of 90, was behind the initiative which saw an Australian selection travel to Ireland in 1967 when they played Meath, the then reigning All-Ireland champions, and Mayo on successive Sundays in Croke Park.

Harry was a famous Australian umpire/referee for many years before moving into broadcasting and print journalism. His son said that he was very proud of his father's role as a lead instigator in the first link-up between two games.

However, that process has been made more difficult by some nasty incidents over the years. "I have lost interest in the concept because of bullying by the Australians. I detest it and think it is an ugly side of our culture," Beitzel said.

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