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Sunday, July 14, 2024

What GAA Rules Changed?

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This week, the Football Review Committee (FRC) has revealed a set of proposals to change Gaelic Football. Rule changes in any sport tend to spark controversy. However, any fan will tell you the proposed tweaks are certain to change the game. Unfortunately, most are convinced the new GAA rules won’t improve the game.

Sports often adapt over the years and the Gaelic events are no different. Whether it was introducing a GAA black card or even changing when the referee could administer a black card, tweaks have always been a part of the game. Yet, the recent proposals by the FRC take this one step further to make Gaelic football a worldwide phenomenon.

How Will This Affect Gaelic Football?

The Football Review Committee have targeted every aspect of Gaelic football to help tidy up and improve the game. While not everyone will agree with the proposals, some won’t face too many objections. Here are the most significant rule changes proposed by the FRC.

Throw-in Rule Changes

  • Only one player from each team may contest the throw-in at the start of a game. This is to remove the prospect of two players fighting with no intention of catching the ball.

Gaelic Football Kickouts Rules

  • Teams can take kickouts before all players cross the 20m line.
  • All kickouts are taken from the small rectangle.
  • With the new 40-metre arc, all kickouts must go beyond the arc.

GAA Possession Rule Changes

  • Both teams must keep three players or more and the goalkeeper inside their 65-meter line. Breaking this rule gives the opposition a free from the 20m line.
  • The goalkeeper can still roam up the pitch, as long as four players always remain in their own half.
  • The goalkeeper can only receive the ball inside the large rectangle. The player passing must be within the large rectangle, beyond the 45m line.
  • Players can claim an advanced mark if they catch a clean kick from outside the 45-meter line anywhere inside the 20-meter line. The player can raise their arm and claim a free kick or try to play on. If there is no advantage, they will award a free kick in the position of the original mark.
A graphic showing the new 40m arc in Gaelic Football
Shots inside the blue area equal one point. Any successful attempts in the yellow zone are now worth two points.

Gaelic Football Scoring Rule Changes

  • A goal will now be worth four points instead of three.
  • If a player fires the ball over the crossbar between the posts outside the 40m arc, they will register two points instead of one.
  • Points are still worth one if scored inside the 40m arc or the 20m line.

Tackling Rules Changes in Gaelic Football

  • A definition of a tackle: Tacklers can get hands-on with a ball carrier with one initial open-hand contact to delay or disrupt the ball carrier’s momentum.
  • Tap-and-go quick frees are now permitted when a defender has committed a foul to slow down the opponent. The solo-and-go allows the attacking team to continue the momentum.
  • If the player gets impeded within 13m of taking the solo-and-go, 30 to 50m advancement for the opposition.
  • A tactical foul that deliberately impedes play results in a 30-50m advancement for the free.

Black Card/Cynical Football Fouls

  • A fifth black card rule which is applied when the opposition deliberately delays an opponent by holding and not grounding the player.
  • A change to the “Contribution to a melee” rule results in a black card for an infringement.
  • Underage-level players who show dissent to the match officials are placed in the sin bin for ten minutes and are replaced.

Other New GAA Rules

  • Create a definition of an accidental foul
  • Give a 13, 30, or 50m advantage to a team when the opposition is guilty of dissent.
  • The referee signals advantage, holding their arm upright for up to five seconds until it becomes clear no advantage has occurred.
  • Introduce a stop clock to help better account for stoppages.
  • The number of substitutions increased from five per game to six.
  • The line umpires will only officiate one-half of the pitch.
  • Introduce vanishing foam to mark the spot for all free kicks inside the 65-meter line.
  • A technical foul occurs when an attacking player enters the opposition’s small rectangle during play.
  • Better enforce the four consecutive step rule and clamp down more on dissent.

What Prompted the Changes?

The committee received the impossible task of changing the game for the better. To do so, they released a survey aimed at fans, players, and coaches. The purpose of a survey was to better understand what the people most involved with the sport felt was missing and what was working. The aim is to enhance what is already enjoyable to watch while trying to remove what frustrates players, coaches, and spectators.

So far, the survey has over 5,500 responses and has revealed a lot about what people like or dislike about Gaelic football. The list below summarises their findings:

Pros:

  • Long range scores
  • Catching and kicking
  • 1-v-1’s where players take on the opposition
  • Pressing opposition kickouts

Cons:

  • Cynical fouling
  • Tactical fouling
  • Overtly defensive tactics
  • Disrespecting match officials

While most fans will admit they have been critical of the officiating, it’s a good sign to see steps taken to rectify the situation. However, where the support for these changes falls flat is perhaps too many at once. Many fear that while Gaelic football is not perfect, it has a certain soul that is natural. Changing these rules all at once does not align with the spirit of the game.

While change is scary and often underwhelming, there is a fundamental part of the GAA that needs to change. Will these rule changes help make the sport a better place? Perhaps so. However, one thing that will guarantee we achieve nothing is by making no changes at all. If around half the rules proposed make it into Gaelic Football next year, we should look forward to more exciting games.

GAA referee handing out a black card

Will the New GAA Rules Change the Game?

Without a shadow of a doubt, yes. The proposed changes target every single part of the game. Not only will there be more points but goals and points are worth different values. That means betting on Gaelic football matches will be harder to get right for a while, as there is no way of knowing how the other changes will affect the game.

While the intentions are good, these rules could drastically alter what we have gotten used to. That means we could reconsider our lists of the greatest GAA footballers and the best hurlers ever. These rules won’t change the past, but they could change what makes the game exciting in future. There could be more of a focus to nail your 45m shots, rather than work on exploiting the gaps behind the defence. You will bank four points for your team if you score two long-range shots over the bar in 2025. On a windy day, who knows what a typical GAA scoreline will be?

That means nobody knows how much of an impact these rules will have, but you are kidding yourself if you think it won’t be a lot. The FRC has spent a lot of time looking at what needs to be improved in Gaelic football. These changes will shake the game up, not offer minor improvements.

When will the GAA Rule Changes Take Place?

After the survey concludes on June 30th, the next step is collecting all the data into a report. That stage should end in October, meaning the special congress in December will be vitally important. This is where the rules will go into effect in the National League and Championship in 2025. That implies 2025 will be a guinea pig season as they collect data and decide what works and what doesn’t. After that, successful measures will enter the GAA Rule Book in 2026 and beyond.

Remember to check back here weekly for the latest GAA news and predictions. Our team has been passionate fans of Gaelic football and hurling for years, providing accurate betting tips every week. Plus, if you are interested in other rules like the GAA black card or the length of a Gaelic football pitch, we have got you covered. Stay tuned for more articles celebrating the GAA.

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