Time to legalise ‘rugby tackle’ in Gaelic football, says Walsh

Seán Walsh believes the legalisation of the tackle made by Seán Cavanagh on Conor McManus on Saturday can be a major step in curbing cynicism and lead to a more free-flowing game.

Time to legalise ‘rugby tackle’ in Gaelic football, says Walsh

The former Munster and Kerry chairman is a long-time advocate of the International Rules-style challenge which, when committed, would force the player in possession to release the ball or a free is awarded the other way.

Walsh would like to see tackles such as the controversial one made three days ago permitted and his view was yesterday endorsed by Ireland’s 2011 International Rules vice-captain, Ciarán McKeever.

The Armagh defender tweeted: “The rugby tackle should be took in as are main tackle in GAA at least everyone will be clear on what a tackle is.”

Walsh said: “What I found in my two years as manager of the International Rules team was the tackle was tidied up. It stopped players bringing the ball into the tackle because they knew they would lose it if they didn’t use it.

“It opened up the play completely and the ball moved faster. In training, players adapted to it and got into the habit of using the ball instead of holding onto it for long periods.

“That sort of tackle would increase the amount of kicking and reduce solo runs because players don’t want to be caught and either lose the play or concede a free.”

The Football Review Committee’s (FRC) redefinition of the tackle was backed at March’s Congress.

It will read in next year’s edition of the rule book as “a skill by which a player may dispossess an opponent or frustrate his objective within the rules of fair play. The tackle is aimed at the ball, not the player.

“The tackler may use his body to confront the opponent but deliberate bodily contact (such as punching, slapping, arm holding, pushing, tripping, jersey pulling or a full frontal charge) is forbidden.

“The only deliberate physical contact can be a fair charge, i.e. shoulder-to-shoulder with at least one foot on the ground. More than one player can tackle the player in possession.”

Walsh doesn’t believe the rewording goes far enough as much as he was a major supporter of the FRC’s black card, which he sees as an advance for Gaelic football but believes more steps can be taken.

“I supported the black card because I believed it was needed. It won’t solve all our problems but it’s a start, it’s definitely a start in the right direction.

“What I found interesting after Saturday was so many inter-county players said they would do the same thing as Seán Cavanagh because it’s within the rules in the sense it only merits a yellow card.

“From next year the punishment is much more severe.”

Walsh was disappointed at the personal criticism of the Tyrone midfielder following the All-Ireland quarter-final. “I wouldn’t be blaming Seán Cavanagh for what he did and I meant that sincerely. He was punished accordingly for his foul and was prepared to take a yellow card. I worked for those two years in the International Rules squad with Seán Cavanagh and there is no finer gentleman and no finer player.”

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