Rules Guide to the International Rules Series

The International Rules series stokes up passionate debate among GAA followers. For some it was often associated with outbreaks of handbags but even then there were frequent breathtaking moments of skill from both teams. The men in the Ireland jersey have proved themselves a match for their professional Australian counterparts, despite their amateur status.

Here’s a recap on the compromise rules so you know what you’re talking about when you’re shouting at the television early on a November morning.

The Tackle

Grabbing between the shoulders and thighs and pulling to the ground is permitted. Obviously this isn’t allowed in Gaelic games, though that doesn’t mean we don’t see it from time to time. The tackle is an area that the Australians are comfortable with, the Irish less so, and the recent trend to hold on to the ball in Gaelic football rather than release quickly can spell disaster. Get the ball and move it on.

Bouncing and Soloing the Ball

A player must bounce, solo or touch the ball on the ground once every 10 metres or six steps. Only two consecutive bounces are allowed, although a player may solo the ball as much as he wants in a possession.


A team may only engage in six consecutive handpasses before the ball must be kicked.


Kickouts after all wides, behinds and overs must travel beyond the 45. Coupled with the mark this means an accurate keeper is essential. Give recent developments in our own games, this is an area that should be observed closely as it is a rule that has been mooted in some circles.


Players can be cited after the match for a variety of offences. Dangerous play is frowned upon and rightly so after the problems that dogged some of the earlier series. A player sent off cannot be replaced and it results in the award of a penalty irrespective of where the offence happened.

Lifting the ball off the ground

The ball may be lifted without using the toe (GAA style) though many irish players will continue to do this out of habit. A player may not scoop up the football to a fellow player or grab the ball when they are lying on the ground.


The goals are made up of regular Gaelic goals  but with two side posts. A kick into the goals is worth six points, a kick over the bar ‘an over’ is worth three points and a behind i.e. between the uprights and the behind post is worth a single point. The umpire signals a goal by raising the green flag and pointing up with both index fingers; an over is a red flag and one arm above the umpire’s head and a behind is a white flag and one index finger.


Bizarrely each match lasts 72 minutes split into four eighteen minute quarters. It is an unusual time period, but hey, there you go. It was reduced from 80 minutes  in 2008, presumably to take account of the shorter duration of GAA games.


A team may make up to 16 interchanges per quarter and an unlimited amount at intervals at the end of quarters and halftime. In reality the game thrives on good management of interchange players.

When and Where

The opening game takes place at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday 12 November, 6am kick-off Irish time, with the second clash pencilled in for the following Saturday in Perth venue, 8.45am kick-off Irish time.