David Gough on ripping up the GAA Rulebook and starting again

Referee David Gough with Jonny Cooper of Dublin during the 2019 All-Ireland Final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

GAA rules can be a nightmare at the best of times. With the constant tweaking over recent years, it’s tough for referees to remember, let alone supporters. 

David Gough, speaking to Tackling Sport, believes that there should be a radical overhaul of the rulebook. 

“The rules definitely need to be changed. I have spoken to GAA Congress about this.”

“There are close to 110 rules, technical and aggressive, to remember. About 43 aggressive fouls – if you were to list them out, 5 noting, 4 yellow card, 5 black card and 18 red card offences.”

The mark officially came into Gaelic Football in 2017. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“And you’ve to remember the language of each of those rules, inside out, to make sure that what you see in front of you is exactly what’s written in the rulebook.”

The sheer amount of rules has always been a problem for the GAA but is there any solution?

“I’m a long-time advocate of getting rid of all the rules, every single one of them. Leave it down to three/four rules. Yellow card – rough play, black card – cynical play and red card – dangerous play. Let the referees decide which one of these categories that fits into”

Referee David Gough issues Monaghan’s Darren Hughes with a black card in his side’s Allianz League clash against Tyrone. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

David is often left frustrated by the current rulebook and remembers one such incident last year. 

“I had to send off Peter Harte for a black card, in the opening round of the Ulster Championship last year. Now it was a trip. Was it cynical? No it wasn’t. It was bad tackling technique but the rule doesn’t allow me to say, well that’s not a black card.”

He continued, “I had no choice but to give him a black card and I think if they removed the very descriptive language that tells you exactly what it has to be, and left it open to interpretation for the referees, it would be easier.”

National Games Development Conference 2020 – Professor David Hassan & David Gough – Playing Rules

National Games Development Conference 2020 – Professor David Hassan (Associate Dean (Global Engagement), Ulster University) & David Gough (All-Ireland Senior…

David Gough presenting the changes to the rule book at the National Games Development Conference 2020

While having reservations at the start, David believes that any mistakes would soon be ironed out. He said, “It might lead to inconsistency at the beginning but that would be tidied up very quickly.”

It seems a very simple and effective solution and one you feel both referees and supporters would get behind. 

Do you know all 110 technical and aggressive fouls? Link to rules below. 

David was speaking on the Tackling Sport Podcast. The interview is out Monday morning on all your favourite platforms. 

Subscribe: https://linktr.ee/tacklingsport

Rules: https://www.gaa.ie/api/pdfs/image/upload/ul9vfetopu5mp8pg9svq.pdf


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