International Rules

International Rules history, rules and results

The first official International Rules Series was played in 1984 in Ireland, though Gaelic contests involving Australian teams date back to 1967. They were the brainchild of former VFL Grand Final umpire, entrepreneur and media man Harry Beitzel.

Gaelic games were played in Ireland against county and national sides in 1967, 1968 and 1978, with Australia winning all three series.

Official International Rules Series games, involving a combination of Australian Football and Gaelic rules, began in 1984 and continued in 1986, 1987 and 1990.

International Rules: Australia v Ireland

After an eight-year break, an annual series between Australia and Ireland was established in 1998 after a new agreement was struck between the AFL and the Gaelic Athletic Association.

However, after the 2006 series in Ireland, the GAA suspended the International Rules Series. The GAA and the AFL, after further discussions in early 2008, resumed the series in 2008.

The series was deferred in 2009 but resumed with a two-test series in Ireland in October, 2010, followed by Ireland’s tour of Australia in 2011. An all-star indigenous team toured Ireland in 2013 before the Aussies hosted Ireland in front of a sell-out Perth crowd in 2014.


International Rules results

Year Match Score Host Venue Series winner
2015 1st Test Ireland 3.11.5 (56) d Australia 1.13.7 (52) Ireland Croke Park Ireland
2014 1st Test Australia 0.17.5 (56) d Ireland 2.9.7 (46) Australia Patersons Stadium Australia
2013 1st Test Ireland 2.12.9 (57) d Australia 1.7.8 (35) Ireland Breffni Park Ireland
2013 2nd Test Ireland 6.22.14 (116) d Australia 0.2.2 (8) Ireland Croke Park Ireland
2011 1st Test Ireland 4.17.5 (80) d Australia 1.8.6 (36) Australia Etihad Stadium Ireland
2011 2nd Test Ireland 1.13.5 (50) d Australia 0.7.8 (29) Australia Metricon Stadium Ireland
2010 1st Test Australia 0.14.5 (47) d Ireland 1.8.10 (40) Ireland Gaelic Grounds Australia
2010 2nd Test Australia 0.14.13 (55) d Ireland 1.11.13 (52) Ireland Croke Park Australia
2008 1st Test Ireland 3.6.9 (45) d Australia 0.12.8 (44) Australia Subiaco Ireland
2008 2nd Test Ireland 4.8.9 (57) d Australia 3.8.11 (53) Australia MCG Ireland
2006 1st Test Ireland 1.12.6 (48) d Australia 1.9.7 (40) Ireland Pearse Stadium Australia
2006 2nd Test Australia 3.15.6 (69) d Ireland 0.7.10 (31) Ireland Croke Park Australia
2005 1st Test Australia 2.27.7 (100) d Ireland 3.11.13 (64) Australia Subiaco Australia
2005 2nd Test Australia 0.18.9 (63) d Ireland 0.11.9 (42) Australia Telstra Dome Australia
2004 1st Test Ireland 3.17.8 (77) d Australia 1.9.8 (41) Ireland Croke Park Ireland
2004 2nd Test Ireland 1.13.10 (55) d Australia 0.13.2 (41) Ireland Croke Park Ireland
2003 1st Test Australia 3.10.8 (56) d Ireland 1.10.10 (46) Australia Subiaco Australia
2003 2nd Test Ireland 2.9.9 (48) d Australia 1.10.9 (45) Australia MCG Australia
2002 1st Test Australia 2.15.8 (65) d Ireland 1.14.10 (58) Ireland Croke Park Australia
2002 2nd Test Australia 1.11.3 (42) drew with Ireland 1.8.12 (42) Ireland Croke Park Australia
2001 1st Test Ireland 2.13.8 (59) d Australia 1.13.8 (53) Australia MCG Ireland
2001 2nd Test Ireland 2.17.8 (71) d Australia 1.13.7 (52) Australia Football Park Ireland
2000 1st Test Australia 0.14.13 (55) d Ireland 1.11.8 (47) Ireland Croke Park Australia
2000 2nd Test Australia 2.15.11 (68) d Ireland 1.12.9 (51) Ireland Croke Park Australia
1999 1st Test Ireland 2.16.10 (70) d Australia 0.16.14 (62) Australia MCG Ireland
1999 2nd Test Ireland 1.11.13 (52) d Australia 2.12.4 (52) Australia Football Park Ireland
1998 1st Test Australia 2.13.11 (62) d Ireland 2.13.10 (61) Ireland Croke Park Ireland
1998 2nd Test Ireland 4.12.7 (67) d Australia 2.10.14 (56) Ireland Croke Park Ireland
1990 1st Test Ireland 0.12.11 (47) d Australia 0.10.8 (38) Australia
1990 2nd Test Ireland 3.9.7 (52) d Australia 0.7.10 (31) Australia
1990 3rd Test Australia 0.13.11 (50) d Ireland 0.12.8 (44) Australia
1987 1st Test Ireland 3.7.14 (53) d Australia 1.11.12 (51) Ireland
1987 2nd Test Australia 3.14.12 (72) d Ireland 3.6.11 (47) Ireland
1987 3rd Test Australia 0.14.17 (59) d Ireland 1.13.10 (55) Ireland
1986 1st Test Australia 1.14.16 (64) d Ireland 5.5.12 (57) Australia
1986 2nd Test Ireland 3.10.14 (62) d Australia 1.10.10 (46) Australia
1986 3rd Test Ireland 4.8.7 (55) d Australia 0.7.11 (32) Australia
1984 1st Test Australia 2.15.13 (70) d Ireland 4.8.9 (57) Ireland
1984 2nd Test Ireland 3.18.8 (80) d Australia 1.18.16 (76) Ireland
1984 3rd Test Australia 1.18.16 (76) d Ireland 5.11.8 (71) Ireland


Rules of the game


A game lasts 72 minutes, comprising four 18-minute quarters. There are five-minute intervals at the end of the first and third quarters and a 15-minute break at half-time.


Each team has 15 players on the field. There are six defenders, six forwards, two midfielders and a goalkeeper, plus eight interchange players.


At either end of the ground are two point posts and two goal posts with a crossbar and soccer-style net between the goal posts.

A goal (worth six points) is scored when the ball is kicked or knocked (not handpassed) into the net.

An over (three points) is scored when the ball goes over the crossbar but between the goal posts and is worth three points.

A behind (one point) is scored when the ball is kicked or directed between the goal and point posts.

If the ball bounces back into play after hitting any of the four posts or the crossbar, play-on is called. A goalkeeper protects the goal area.

Out of bounds

There are no boundary throw-ins. When a ball goes out of play, a free kick is awarded (as in soccer and basketball) against the team that last touched the ball. The opposition can either kick or handpass the ball back into play.

The playing field

International Rules is played on a rectangular field measuring about 145 metres by 90 metres.

Centre restrictions

Only two players per team are allowed in the centre area for the start of play.

Ball on ground

A player on the ground or on his knees may not pick up the ball or drag it back under him. If he does, he will have a free kick awarded against him. When in this position, a player can only knock the ball on. This ensures continuous, fast-moving play.

Solo run

Bernie Vince on a solo run against Ireland

A player must bounce or touch the ball on the ground, AFL-style, every 10 metres and is allowed a maximum of two bounces. However, there is no limit on how many times he can solo (play the ball between hand and foot).


Tackling an opponent above the thighs and below the shoulders is permitted.


Side (shoulder) bumps are allowed provided neither player is airborne. Shirtfronts and shepherds are not permitted.


Handpassing (AFL style) is permitted but only four in a row before a player must kick to avoid being penalised.


Players can be interchanged at any time during the game (maximum 10 a quarter). As in Australian Football, players must leave and enter the field through the designated interchange area.

Order-off rule

A referee can send off any player for a period of 10 minutes (yellow card) or for the remainder of the game (red card) depending on the incident and severity of it. Players cannot be replaced and a red card also results in a penalty kick.

Team runner

Each team is permitted one official runner to make team changes and deliver the coach’s instructions to players.

Deciding the series

Adam Goodes celebrates an International Rules series win

In the event of a tied series, the winner is decided by calculating the aggregate scores from the two tests. The team with the higher score wins the series. If both teams score an equal amount of aggregate points from the two tests, or if both games are tied, the International Rules Series trophy will be retained by the side that won the previous series.

Jim Stynes Medal

The Jim Stynes Medal is awarded to Australia's best player in the International Rules Series. It honours the former champion Melbourne ruckman who came to Australia from Ireland in 1984 and went on to become one of the greats of the game, winning the 1991 Brownlow Medal and playing an AFL record 244 consecutive games. Stynes was a regular participant in the International Rules Series.

Series Medallist AFL team
1998 Stephen Silvagni Carlton
1999 Jason Akermanis Brisbane Lions
2000 James Hird Essendon
2001 Matthew Lloyd Essendon
2002 Andrew Kellaway Richmond
2003 Brent Harvey North Melbourne
2004 Nathan Brown Richmond
2005 Andrew McLeod Adelaide
2006 Ryan O'Keefe Sydney Swans
2008 Kade Simpson Carlton
2010 Dane Swan Collingwood
2011 James Kelly Geelong
2013 Ashley McGrath Brisbane Lions
2014 Luke Hodge Hawthorn
2015 Harry Taylor Geelong

Harry Beitzel Medal

The Harry Beitzel Medal was awarded to the best player in the International Rules Series games between 1984 and 1990.

Series Medallist Team
1984 Jimmy Kerrigan Ireland
1986 Robert DiPierdomenico Australia
1987 Tony McGuinness Australia
1990 Jack O'Shea Ireland