Aussie referee gets Control Committee's full backing

MATTHEW JAMES, criticised for his handling of last week's first International Rules Test, will again be the home official today in Melbourne, alongside Michael Collins from Cork.

However, he received a welcome boost yesterday from a joint AFL/GAA 'Control Committee' which concluded from an analysis of the game that the performance of James and Meath's Dave Coldrick had been 'extremely satisfactory.'

Irish manager Pete McGrath said that while he had a difficulty with a number of decisions made by James, he was prepared to accept that they were genuine mistakes.

Croke Park Head of Games and AFL representative Kevin Sheehan reviewed the 'interpretations of rulings' on the laws of the game and noted that a total of 51 correct free kicks were awarded. Just seven incorrect calls were given along with two 'non-decisions' which they felt should have been free kicks.

"The Control Committee regards this as an extremely satisfactory performance by referees Matthew James (Australia) and David Coldrick (Ireland), given the blending of rules between Australian Football and Gaelic Football,'' they said in a statement.

McGrath said that while some of James' decisions "surprised" the Irish management, they were "probably" due to their misunderstanding of the application of the rules. However, he refused to respond to criticism of him.

"As a sportsman I'm not prepared to put the referee under any undue pressure,'' he commented.

"We would accept that some of the penalties that were imposed upon us were self-inflicted by not handing a ball back to the player or by making a comment to the referee,'' he added.

"That was our own problem and our own fault and that has to be eradicated from our game."

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