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Is it time to do away with ‘emasculated hybrid’ Rules series, asks Dublin GAA chief

The experiment has failed says John Costello.

The Ireland team before the second Test at Croke Park in October.
The Ireland team before the second Test at Croke Park in October.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

DUBLIN GAA CHIEF John Costello says the International Rules experiment has failed and it’s time to assess the future of the series.

Ireland ran out easy winners over this year’s two Tests while the games against an indigenous Australian side failed to catch the public’s imagination.

“[W]hat transpired, in Kingspan Breffni Park and especially Croke Park, left me wondering whether the otherwise elusive honour of playing for Ireland is sufficient reason to persist with the International Rules ‘experiment’,” writes Costello in his annual report.

“And that is what it is… an experiment, albeit one conducted over three decades. It is, I believe, an ill-fated amalgam of two sports that will never quite gel into a cohesive game that can survive on its own two feet.

“When the old ‘Compromise Rules’ was revived in 1998, I approached with an open mind and in fairness, initially at least, the “marriage” of Gaelic football’s finest and the cream of Australian Rules ticked plenty of boxes – it was novel, entertaining and, most important of all, it seemed to matter to both protagonists.

“Now I’m far from sure. Rather, I’m pretty sure that while Ireland’s top players still relish the opportunity, the Aussies (a nation generally known for their ultra-competitive sporting zeal) have gone completely lukewarm.

“While clearly, drastic action was required to stamp out the violence that scarred the series of 2005 and 2006, the rule-makers probably went too far and we’ve ended up with an emasculated hybrid that has spawned landslide results watched by dwindling attendances in both hemispheres.”

Costello insists the ultimate metric for measuring the success or otherwise of the Series is it’s ‘saleability’.

“Is it worth watching? At present, I believe the answer is no. Are people watching it? Based on the crowds Down Under in 2011 and this year’s 28,525 at Croke Park, the public have switched off. Whisper it softly … is it time to put International Rules out of its misery?”

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