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International Rules - living up to the name: Canada

  • Thursday, October 07 2004 @ 01:51 am ACST
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International Rules In this second istalment on the "spread of the hybrid", having noted the established 7 year tradition in Denver, Colorado, we head north to Canada's western provinces. Here clubs at the edge of Aussie Rules' and Gaelic football's lonely frontiers are also keeping match fit, exchanging player talent and enjoying good cross-cultural "craic" (Irish for a helluva lotta fun).

Versions of Compromise/International Rules matches go back to 1967 with Harry Beitzel's Australian team, "the Galahs", touring Ireland. But at the real grassroots level it is possibly Vancouver in British Columbia that held the first international/compromise rules game. As John O'Flynn of the Vancouver Harps says:

"Our Gaelic Club has been active for 30 years and we have played the Vancouver Cougars and the Calgary Kangaroos in various Gaelic Football tournaments in the last number of years. Our first experience with Aussie Rules was in the late 70's with a local club. A number of Aussies have played with us over the years and we have had a few of our own play with the Vancouver Cougars". The Harps and the Cougars have played an annual St Pat's Day IR game for the past 3 seasons.

From Alberta, Ronan Deane of the Calgary Chieftains (but also plays a bit for the Kangaroos) says:

"The Calgary Chieftains and Calgary Kangaroos have developed a fantastic, mutually beneficial relationship that started out with the Aussies entering the local Gaelic Football tournament in June 2003, and was followed up by 2 compromise rules games later that Fall".

The first "Test" was won by the Chieftains: 3-8-17 (59) to 2-6-13 (43); the Kangaroos stormed back finding the net in the second: 8-14-12 (108) to 4-2-12 (42). A great write up can be found on the Chieftains' website and concludes with comments that could apply to a Test at Croke Pk, Subiaco or the MCG: "This is going to be a great game, just as soon as each of the teams realize what they are doing. Our styles are contrasting in so many ways. The Kangaroos play the ball long & accurately, finding their high-fielding players and letting the ball do the work. The Chieftains, while still getting used to the tackle law, get good ground and possession by moving the ball in short intricate passing moves. Plans are afoot to create a more formal Compromised rules series in the coming season".

Also in Calgary, there are matches played with the format of Australian football rules and ball for a half, Gaelic rules and ball for a half, as well as participation in each codes tournaments, in what is a rich tradition of interaction. See the Calgary Kangaroos website for reports.