AFL's Irish recruitment rules under threat?
Sunday, August 05 2007 @ 09:37 pm ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
In recent articles on the relationship between the AFL (Australia) and GAA (Ireland) regarding International Rules and the so-called "poaching" of young Gaelic football players from Ireland, we've suggested that the one piece of leverage the GAA has to restrict the flow of players has been the International Rules series. As the AFL is keen to maintain it, they've been prepared to at least put an age limit on the recruitment of young Irishmen to AFL clubs via the draft or international rookie list. Whereas young potential recruits from outside of Australia can be added to a club's international rookie list from 15 years old, for Ireland the minimum is 18, and full entry to the AFL at 19.
The AFL and GAA are set to meet in Melbourne in October, and if the International Rules ban is extended there are suggestions that the age restrictions put in place to satisfy the GAA could be removed - this would most likely result in an even greater level of poaching and reduce AFL-GAA relations to a new low. It seems the relationship between the two sporting bodies is more finely balanced than ever before - will the GAA be conciliatory to restore the IR series and maintain its leverage with the AFL, or will they maintain a hardline stance and risk an escalation of the player drain?