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Wednesday, January 29 2020 @ 09:42 am ACDT

Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected

International Rules

This week saw the best men’s footballers from Ireland and Australia’s native football codes take part in the hybrid series of International Rules. The series saw two close matches that was well received by crowds at the game and on TV.  So if the best men of the game can represent their country in this format surely the women can take part too?

In fact they did back in 2006. Julia Boyle who played for Australia in the 2006 Women’s International Rules Series against Ireland told me, “it was the biggest highlight of my football career. I had played both Gaelic Football since I was 17 and VWFL since I was 19, I had represented Victoria in both Codes and had also won two World Cups for Australia in Gaelic Football. I had pretty much retired from AFL in 2002 after Parkside folded and was just playing /concentrating Gaelic Football. When word got around that the series was going to happen, I started playing AFL again."

"It was very hard juggling commitments to both codes, often having to play two matches on the one day. I remember the 5 months leading up to the selection trials in the July 2006 I lost nearly 25kg, and I was the fittest I had ever been. The quality of the players that were selected Australia wide were the best in the country at the time, so it was very competitive in selection”.

Another female player Cora Staunton played in the International Rules Series in 2006 for Ireland and said how “it was great to play in it and lovely to represent your country. Great to play in it and play with girls from other counties”.

So the female players from both Ireland and Australia enjoyed playing International Rules, but it seems the series was discontinued due to the relations turning a bit sour. The men’s series was suspended after a number of violent incidents that were particularly poorly received in Ireland and this majorly affected the women’s series from discontinuing the following year.

The women’s series never resumed and Julia believes “the main reason was because we absolutely got flogged by the Irish, they (the Irish) we were not prepared to negotiate on the rule of tackling, so it made it very hard for us to have a skill that that made us equal in the game. We even suggested using a AFL football instead of a round ball, but not even that could be compromised for tackling. We were basically playing Gaelic Football against players that had played Gaelic Football since they were toddlers, it wasn’t an even playing field. The only noticeable difference between Gaelic Football were the goal posts and stop start after a mark”.

Also Cora Staunton feels the women’s series was discontinued due to the fact “maybe the overall series were very one sided the Irish were a lot stronger. Also the running of the series every year and the (Gaelic) all-star trips started around 2004 so the emphasis was put on them."

But now given the strength and growing professionalism of the women’s game in Australia and the desire for the game to have a competitive pathway for young girls to be part of that, is it time to re-start the series. Provide an international carrot at the top of the elite women’s footy pathway, an Australian jumper.

Josh Vanderloo who is the Head of Competitions and Player Movement in the AFL says a Women’s International Rules Series could be resurrected, as “I’d expect that we will look at options for as early as the 2018 season”. Vanderloo also believes that if the Women’s International Rules was to be revived that it “should be a double header” to the Men’s International Rules.

Likewise, Boyle feels the same way as Vanderloo, as she said “I always believe that it should be a curtain raiser, the AFL should treat both the men’s and women’s teams the same”.

There was no tackling in the Women’s International Rules in 2006, but Vanderloo says in the future a resurrected Women’s International Rules “would be played under the same rules as the Men’s unless there was a compelling reason to change anything”.

The Australian team in 2006 were well beaten by the Irish team but with the new levels of professionalism in AFLW the Australians would be more competitive in a Women’s International Rules if it was resurrected and Vanderloo says “as athletes, the AFLW players would be better prepared than ever before”.

He also believes the “utility type players such as Chelsea Randall, Ebony Antonio, Karen Paxman and of course Erin Phillips would be great (and plenty more)” in a Women’s International Rules revival.

Boyle who played in the last International Rules believes the Women’s International Rules should most definitely be resurrected. She expressed how “she was very disappointed it didn’t continue after that year. There is so much talent in Ireland, and they would still match the current AFLW players”.

Also the new levels of professionalism in AFLW has according to Boyle provided girls with “more opportunities now to concentrate on their training and skills without full time work commitments getting in the way, workplaces are also more flexible with girls who have sporting commitments”.

"There is also more funding and sports medicine technology, and most importantly diet. For example the food situation when we got to Ireland was a debacle, we had nowhere to prepare our own meals, and the food we were given wasn’t very conducive to an athlete in training. Healthy food at the time was really had to find near where we were staying in Dublin. This would be different now. Back in 2006, we basically had to work to fund the trip, we personally spend between $2000-3000 for the experience to go, we were give a little subsidy, but it wasn’t a free trip by all means."

The Australian women are not the only ones who want to be involved in the Women’s International Rules, as the Irish are keen too. Laura Corrigan Duryea who is Irish and plays for the Melbourne Football Club in the AFLW expresses how keen she as a player is if the Women’s International Rules was to be resurrected, as she said “of course I would a combination of my favourite two games in the world”.

Staunton said “yes most definitely and I think most Ladies footballers would love the chance to represent there country like the men do”.

Boyle says how she “would definitely support it, and the Irish would definitely be keen”. She goes onto say “I will be interested to see the progress of Cora Staunton who recently got drafted for GWS, she was the most dominant player when we played Ireland in 2006, and I would say she is the best footballer I have ever seen or played against. She is a legend in Ireland. So given the fact she has now moved to Australia to give it a go (AFLW), I think off the back of that, Ireland, will be very interested in getting the series back up again if she performs well this season”.

So Duryea, Staunton, Boyle and other Irish players express how eager they are all to play in a resurrected Women’s International Rules Series. AFLW players such as Brisbane Lions Kate McCarthy have voiced their desire on social media for a series to resume too.

Staunton also believes the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and the AFLW both “would benefit from it as it would give more media attention to our game which is always a plus”.

Furthermore Duryea says, “the AFLW would definitely benefit with the opportunity to spot future talent. Obviously if the Irish girls get a taste for the game or are recruited this would require to uproot and move to Australia which would be a massive loss for their respective clubs and counties. On the other hand it’s an opportunity for these girls to be a semi professional athlete in a sport so similar to the one they have grown up playing”.

The momentum if certainly building for the series to be resurrected, players and officials looking at the resumption in a positive light and believing it would be a win for both codes. We can reasonably hope that we could see the Australian women's team go to take on Ireland in 2018 and play as the curtain raiser to the men's matches if the AFL and Ladies Gaelic Football Association can agree to terms.

Thanks to Julia Boyle for the images used with this article.

In 2006 the squads were as follows

Ireland squad:

Bronagh O'Donnell, Alma O'Donnell, Caroline O'Hanlon, Caoimhe Marley (All Armagh), Bronagh Sheridan (Cavan), Angela Walsh, Norita Kelly, Juliet Murphy, Rena Buckley (All Cork), Micheala Downey (Down), Cliodhna O'Connor, Sinead Aherne (both Dublin), Aoibheann Daly, Anne Marie McDonagh, Una Carroll, Patricia Gleeson (All Galway), Grainne Ni Flathartha, , Sarah O'Connor (All Kerry), Brianna Leahy (Kildare), Lorraine Muckian, Patricia Fogarty (Laois), Dympna O'Brien (Limerick) Cora Staunton, Christina Heffernan (Mayo), Sinead Dooley, Jackie Shields, Geraldine Doherty, Mary Sheridan (All Meath), Mairead Morrissey (Tipperary), Mary O'Donnell (Waterford)

Australian squad:

Belinda Blay (Vic); Julia Boyle (Vic); Joanne Butland (QLD); Renae Campbell (WA); Jane Clifton (Vic); Penny Cula-Reid (Vic); Michelle Dench (Vic); Angela Doyle (WA); Sarah Hammond (Vic); Anna Haynes (WA); Emma Hender (ACT); Moana Hope (Vic); Meg Hutchins (Vic); Pia Kilburn (WA); Shelley Matcham (WA); Shannon McFerran (Vic); Anna McIlroy (Vic); Janine Milne (Vic); Talei Owen (NSW); Lydia Padgett (WA); Daisy Pearce (Vic); Katherine Pender (Qld); Kerryn Stephens (Vic); Lauren Tesoriero (Vic); Kathy Zacharopoulos (Vic)



Also read about a women's International Rules series between Sydney Women's AFL and the New South Wales (Australia) Women's GAA  played in Australia in 2004 here. 

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Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Monday, November 20 2017 @ 11:27 am ACDT

Bec Goddard's involvement in the recent men's IRS series could be a good indicator to who might coach the Australian team if it was to go ahead in 2018.

Edited on Monday, November 20 2017 @ 12:04 pm ACDT by Admin

Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected
Authored by: Cam Homes on Tuesday, November 21 2017 @ 02:02 pm ACDT

Don't know if any body has thought of this idea before, I've not seen suggested up til now.

Instead of having a Inter Rules women's series try to get an "World Eighteen" team together and have them play each/or some of the State Women's teams and play AFL(Aussie Rules).

The matches could be played in conjunction with or as curtain raisers/closers to the AFLW games. Closers are better cos' already got a crowd.

Some positives that I can see:

1: assured of getting a good crowd

2: playing weaker state teams initially gives World Team chance to be competitive and maybe even win. eg. play Queensland , NSW and Sth Australia initially.

3: puts international women's footy into the face of "unaware/ignorant" Aussie fans. ie. raises awareness in Aussie.

4: huge boost to women's footy outside Aussie. opens gate to pathways to AFLW for international players.

5: there is a handful or so of "World" players already in the country, will help reduce the cost, and an already named World team (IC World Team) to whom invitations could be extended almost immediately ready for 2018 AFLW season.  

6: "World" team players could be on same planes/hotels as AFLW teams in Aussie. help reduce cost.

7: Aussie girls able to play for State/Country same as playing an Inter rules series.

8: Inter Rules dislikers can't winge.

9: Help! me guys! there has to be more positives to/for something like this. 

Negatives that will be most likely pedalled out:

1: Cost Too Much. altho' an InterRules series will cost money too.

2: Not needed because Australian Players get nothing out of it because they will thrash the World Team. Standard gap too wide to do any thing about.

3. Not helping AFLW grow so not necessary.

4: International Women's Footy not important/big enough to support at present, leave this til later in ten years or so.(when Rating gap would have grown so large) so no longer viable or worth worrying about. Australia First advocates.

8: International players won't be interested or have enough desire to come and play in a series like this. cost too much for them, get time off work, (have had that one trotted out already) Mind you I reckon you could get more than full side of girls/women from around the world who would do anything (Short of robbing a bank) to be part of, say, a three week tour as I'm suggesting.    

9: Any International draftees( who have dreaming about playing footy all their lives) who might make it onto a AFLW list must not take the place of an Aussie girl who's been dreaming of playing footy all their lives. (Ditto trotted)

Maybe we can convince the international women's footy community to lobby Nicole Livingstone to go down this road rather than an IR road.  Certainly money is not available or forthcoming for both roads to be taken.. 

What say Ye, Guys & Gals! Connections, Connections! Tash, Troy, Brett, Harley, Ben and Lisa(AFL Europe) AFL Oceania equivalent(sorry pensioners disease kicking in) AFL Canada and AFL USA , anybody, everybody get on her bike NOW. Nicole's that is.

Probably won't happen in 2018 but just might squeeze it in to convince AFL it is worthwhile by AFLW season 2019.  

Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Tuesday, November 21 2017 @ 03:58 pm ACDT

Everybody's thought of it I think Cam. But there seems to be little appetite for it. Generally most I have spoken to think it would be massively one sided.

It is hard enough to get unified teams together nationally let alone a world team. The obvious time would be at the end of the IC, but then everyone is beat up and really need to go home (some fly out the night of the last game). And there is no one even looking to get a team together to play a world team.

While it might one day, in a very long time, be an elite contest that can happen I can't personally see any progress any time soon.

Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected
Authored by: Jas on Wednesday, November 29 2017 @ 12:52 am ACDT

With some planning, an Australian Womens Australian Rules team could tour, but instead of playing International Rules, they play Australian Rules, get the Irish Gaelic Women and Irish Australian Rules Women players to form an elite Australian Rules football team to represent Ireland. If there are women Gaelic players in the US, they could coax players to play international representative Australian Rules there as well possibly. The AFL, and now the AFLW just need to push a bit more I reckon.

The Australian Women could play a combined Great Britain as well. So what if they thrash them, it's an international on the board, and there could still be some good publicity in both Australia and GB. The match would be a 'friendly' after all.

Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, December 01 2017 @ 12:07 am ACDT

Perhaps the European women's teams need to get together and lay down a friendly challenge to Australia, maybe a well produced youtube video suggesting the AFLW doesn't look too shabby but they're not sure how well the Aussies would do travelling to the other side of the world to take on Europe.

It might be if the AFL finally decides what version of reduced numbers they will push (they've tried Recfooty and AFL9s and now it's going to be AFLX) then the challenge could be Europe vs Australia, AFLX-W at Croke Park or somewhere like that. With the big following Gaelic has in Ireland I reckon it would draw a crowd, if the GAA allowed it. By being 8-a-side or whatever the European lack of depth is less exposed. It'd still be very one sided but the challenge would still (arguably) need to be met. It may be that the side would feature they best 2 Irish women (footy), best 3 Gaelic, best 2 GB, best 3 from rest of Europe.

Or maybe it's a North vs South challenge, or North (Hemisphere) vs Australia... are the girls from Down Under afraid to face the North? Then you'd be looking at say the best 2 Gaelic players, best 2 Irish, best 2 GB, best 2 Canada, best 2 USA, there's your squad of 10.

It could be World vs Australia, but maybe seems too broad and might make it harder to bring the team together for some training.

Part of me thinks it'd be a whitewash, 300-0 (we saw how badly the Allies did against Victoria recently). But part of me wonders, fired up for a one off, with some time to train together, shortened field, the best 10 women in the world including a couple of the elite Gaelic players, Croke Park, just maybe the North would put up a solid show, enough to not make it a joke.

Find a sponsor to cover the basic costs then why not try it? I don't think the Aussie women would say no, the internationals wouldn't.

So there's the target, AFLX Women's, the Northern Challenge, aiming for a match end of the coming AFLW season. Dare to get on the plane Aussies?

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected
Authored by: Cam Homes on Friday, December 01 2017 @ 12:26 pm ACDT

Why does it have to always be "AUSTRALIA" in this debate about playing a "World" team?

In Rugby and Soccer, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland all play as separate entities, SO why at this stage in developing International Australian Football (AFLW in particular) can't we have each of our states taking on the other countries and "World", "Europe" combinations in these sort of matches and why not keep them all playing Aussie Rules, and not resort to Gaelic or Inter Rules.

OK, Victoria and WA would "flog/thrash" all the teams/nations/combinations we're talking about here, so have them play NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and even a Women's Indigenous/Aboriginal team or an AIM team and I believe there might just be some closer/even contests. (AIM team didn't win a game at Women's IC11)

AND spend the money getting the international teams to Australia and have these matches played as curtain closer's to the AFLW games, not spending it on sending the Aussies to Ireland etc. YOU already HAVE a Crowd here.

Its NOT the International Aussie Footy community that needs convincing that Aussie Rules IS now an internationally played sport, but the Australian AFL Footy community/fans who in the vast majority I believe have absolutely no idea of the extent of how much Aussie rules is being played overseas.

AND DO IT NOW, not wait til the AFLW gets settled/bigger/stronger years down the track and leaves the rest of the world even further behind.

Time for Women's International Rules to be resurrected
Authored by: Harley Vague on Monday, December 04 2017 @ 12:12 pm ACDT

I have always supported the IRS concept because it allows international competition and while it provides self-funded entertainment .it should continue. Importantly it has facilitated much inter-code contact at amateur level. However i'm totally confused by the lack of leverage out of these games. At the last test in Perth there was junior GAA demonstrated at half time, whilst I don't know of a red ball coming out at all in Ireland. Also we had the recent VFA team visiting Ireland yet didn't play AFL. That was left to until London. If IRS is going to continue let's at least attempt to leverage a junior match or an exhibition game out of it in the men.
Women everywhere are providing magnificent opportunities for growth. The AFLW has been a totally magnificent development but it could be even so much better. W.r.t IRS I would see a women's series as potentially a much better promotion and leverage opportunity than the men for a lot of reasons.IMO we should have a women's IRS but only if we attempt to leverage Australian Football growth. Whilst I'm in favour of IRS fpr women I believe some sort Australian Football competition featuring women from around the world be more beneficial in continuing the advancement in women's football. .