Australians aggression could end International Rules series

The son of the late Australian Rules star Harry Beitzel who pioneered the International Rules concept fears the hybrid initiative could be undermined by an over-aggressive Australian side over the coming two weekends.

The two teams clash during a 2015 match

Journalist and mental health counsellor Brad Beitzel, whose father brought “The Galahs” to face Ireland in 1967 and ‘68, worries that the home team will go overboard with a physical approach.

“One of the anxieties I have about the coming two tests — and I know it’s a constant part of the narrative — is the Australians becoming too physical. It doesn’t honour the tradition of the game and I think a couple of times we’ve been lucky the Irish have agreed to come back because, clearly, the Australians are physical.

“The Irish are fantastic athletes but they’ve a different form of contact. I just hope that the players and officials from the AFL respect that and that there are no fights and if there are, they are followed up with heavy penalties because they disgrace the game.”

Beitzel wants to see Australia honour those who pioneered the hybrid game, such as his father, who died last August at the age of 90. “The Irish game generally is minor contact whereas ours is major contact and the laws of the hybrid game regulate minor contact. I have lost some interest in the concept because of bullying by the Australians, which I think is an ugly side of our culture. I hope in honour of my father that the Australians go out with the right attitude.

“It’s sad and on those occasions I’ve been sad and embarrassed for my father, who was upset by it. I never forget what Frank Tyson said about an infamous ‘underarm’ incident in cricket. He said, ‘there’s quality and quantity in life and sport is part of life. Do you want to win and have the quantity or walk away with a quality outcome?’ It always stayed with me as a philosophy: honouring the game.”

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