International rules football

International rules football (Irish: Peil na rialacha idirnáisiunta; also known as international rules in Australia and compromise rules in Ireland) is a team sport consisting of a hybrid of football codes, which was developed to facilitate international representative matches between Australian rules football players and Gaelic football players.

The first tour, known as the Australian Football World Tour, took place in 1967, with matches played in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The following year, games were played between Australia and a touring County Meath Gaelic football team, Meath being the reigning All-Ireland senior football champions.[1] Following intermittent international tests between Australia and Ireland, the International Rules Series between the senior Australian international rules football team and Ireland international rules football team has been played intermittently since 1984, and has generally been a closely matched contest. The sport has raised interest and exposure in developing markets for Gaelic and Australian football and has been considered a development tool by governing bodies of both codes, particularly by the AFL Commission.

International rules football does not have any dedicated clubs or leagues. It is currently played by men's, women's, and junior teams only in tournaments or Test matches.

International rules football
International rules
An international rules football match at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, between Australia and Ireland
Highest governing body
NicknamesIR, International rules, Compromise rules
First played1967 (Australian Football World Tour)
Team members15
Mixed genderSingle (male only at elite level)
EquipmentGaelic football


The rules are designed to provide a compromise or combine between those of the two codes, with Gaelic football players being advantaged by the use of a round ball and a rectangular field measured about 160 yards long by 98 yards wide (Australian rules uses an oval ball and field), while the Australian rules football players benefit from the opportunity to tackle by grabbing between the shoulders and thighs and pulling to the ground, something banned in Gaelic football. The game also introduces the concept of the mark, from Australian rules football, with a free kick awarded for a ball caught from a kick of over 15 metres, where the kick must be in the forward direction if originating from a teammate.[2]

A player must bounce, solo (kick into one's own hands) or touch the ball on the ground once every 10 metres or six steps.[2] A maximum of two bounces per possession are allowed, while players can solo the ball as often as they wish on a possession.[2] Unlike in Gaelic football, the ball may be lifted directly off the ground, without putting a foot underneath it first.[2] Players however cannot scoop the ball off the ground to a team-mate, nor pick up the ball if they are on their knees or on the ground.[2] If a foul is committed, a free kick will be awarded, though referees (called umpires in Australian Rules) can give the fouled player advantage to play on at their discretion.[2]

International Rules Football scores
Scoring in International rules football

The game uses two large posts usually sets 6.5 metres apart, and connected 2.5 metres above the ground by a crossbar with a goal net that could extend behind the goalposts and attached to the crossbar and lower goalposts, as in Gaelic football. A further 6.5 metres apart on either side of those and not connected by a crossbar are 2 small posts, known as behind posts, as in Australian rules football.

Points are scored as follows

  • Under the crossbar and into the goal net (a goal): 6 points, umpire waves a green flag and raises both index fingers.[2]
  • Over the crossbar and between the two large posts (an over): 3 points, umpire waves red flag and raises one arm above his head.[2]
  • Between either of the large posts and small posts (a behind): 1 point, umpire waves white flag and raises one index finger.[2]

Scores are written so as to clarify how many of each type of score were made as well as, like Australian football, giving the total points score for each team; for example, if a team scores one goal, four overs and 10 behinds, the score is written as 1-4-10 (28), meaning one goal (six points) plus 4 overs (4 × 3 = 12 points) plus 10 behinds (10 × 1 = 10 points), for a total score of 28 points.

An international rules match lasts for 72 minutes (divided into four quarters of 18 minutes each).[2] Inter-county Gaelic football matches go on for 70 minutes, divided into two halves, and Australian rules matches consist of four 20 minute quarters of game time, although with the addition of stoppage time, most quarters actually last between 25 and 30 minutes.

As in Gaelic football, teams consist of fifteen players, including a goalkeeper, whereas eighteen are used in Australian rules (with no keeper).

2006 rule changes

A number of rule changes were introduced before the 2006 International Rules Series:

  • Time per quarter was reduced from 20 minutes to 18 minutes.
  • A player who received a red card is to be sent off and no replacement is allowed; in addition to this a penalty is awarded regardless of where the incident takes place. (Previously a replacement was allowed and a penalty was only awarded if the incident happened in the penalty area.)[3]
  • A yellow card now means a 15-minute sin bin for the offending player, who will be sent off if he receives a second card.[4]

2008 rule changes

  • Maximum of 10[5] interchanges per quarter.
  • Teams are allowed only four consecutive hand passes (ball must then be kicked).[5]
  • Match time reduced from 80 minutes to 72 minutes (18 minutes per quarter).[2]
  • The goalkeeper can no longer kick the ball to himself from the kick-out.[2]
  • Suspensions may carry over to GAA and AFL matches if the Match Review Panel sees fit.[2]
  • A dangerous "slinging" tackle will be an automatic red card.
  • A front-on bump (known as a shirtfront in Australian football) endangering the head will result in a red card.
  • Physical intimidation can result in a yellow card.
  • The keeper cannot be tackled or touched when the keeper is charging.
  • An independent referee can cite players for reportable offences from the stands.
  • Yellow card sin bin reduced to 10 minutes.[2]

2014 rule changes

  • Maximum number of interchanges per quarter increased from 10 to 16.
  • Unlimited number of interchanges allowed at quarter and half time breaks.
  • Number of consecutive hand-passes teams are allowed increased from 4 to 6.
  • Marks will not be paid for backwards kicks caught by a teammate.
  • Goalkeepers required to kick the ball out beyond the 45 m line after all wides, behinds and overs.
  • Failure of a goalkeeper to kick over the 45 m line will result in a free kick to the opposition (from the 45 m line).[6]

Women's international rules football

While ladies' Gaelic football has been growing almost exponentially since the 1970s, Women's Australian rules football has far fewer players, though numbers have grown strongly since the 1990s. In early 2006, representatives of the Ladies' Gaelic Football Association and Women's Australian Football Leagues met at a Ladies' Gaelic football festival in Singapore, and agreed to compete in the hybrid version of the two football codes to coincide with the senior men's series. The 2006 Women's Series has been the only series to take place.

2006 Women's Series
Date Teams Stadium Location Attendance
31 October 2006 Ireland 6.26.16 (134) def.
Australia 1.2.3 (15)
Breffni Park Cavan [7][8]
4 November 2006 Ireland 3.5.6 (39) def.
Australia 0.4.6 (18)
Parnell Park Dublin [8]


Among the first schoolboys' international tests was that played in Melbourne in 1983, when a Victorian under-17 team played Ireland. An interesting twist in these compromise matches is that the ball used was the oval shaped Australian football rather than the round ball.[9]

An official junior series at Under-17 level has been played in alternate nations since the early 2000s. Ireland completed a hat-trick of series wins from 2003–2005 before Australia won the junior series for 2006. The junior series was largely instituted by both leagues as a means to identify emerging talent. It has since been abandoned.

2005 Junior Series
Date Result Venue Location Age Notes
2005 Game 1 Ireland 73 def.
Australia 32
Crossmaglen, County Armagh U/17 [10]
2005 Game 2 Ireland 44 def. by
Australia 56
Dublin, County Dublin U/17 [10]
2005 Game 3 Ireland 39 def.
Australia 31
Killarney, County Kerry U/17 [10]
  • Australian player of the series: Joel Selwood
  • Irish player of the series: Ray Cullivan
2006 Junior Series
Date Result Venue Location Age Notes
2006 Game 1 Australia 0.11.6 (39) drew
Ireland 2.7.6 (39)
Docklands Stadium, Melbourne U/17 [11]
2006 Game 2 Australia 1.6.11 (35) drew
Ireland 3.4.5 (35)
Football Park, Adelaide U/17 [11]
2006 Game 3 Australia 2.6.15 (45) def.
Ireland 1.6.6 (30)
Fremantle Oval, Perth U/17 [12]
  • Irish player of the series: Kevin Nolan
  • Australian player of the series: Bryce Gibbs


The Australian Amateur Football Council has sent an amateur Under-23 All-Australian team to Ireland in both 2005 and 2008. The Australian amateur team wore a different jersey to the AFL representative side, dark green and gold, with a kangaroo emblem. Recently, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) has sent a squad of players sourced from the top six divisions of its competition to tour Ireland and play various clubs and representative teams.[13]

Amateur matches
Date Teams Stadium Location Attendance Notes
2005 AAFC (U-23) 17 def. by
Ireland GAA 105
Croke Park Dublin, County Dublin N/A [14]
2005 AAFC (U-23) 30 def. by
All-Ireland Universities 34
University Grounds National University of Ireland, Galway N/A [14]
2005 AAFC (U-23) 74 def.
Irish Banks/Allied Forces 52
Pearse Stadium Galway, County Galway N/A [14]
2005 AAFC (U-23) 53 def.
Bishopstown GAA 47
Bishopstown GAA Club Cork County Cork N/A [14]
2008 AAFC (U-23) 46 def.
Bishopstown GAA 39
Bishopstown GAA Club Cork, County Cork [15]
2008 AAFC (U-23) 55 def. by
Donaghmore Ashbourne 60
Killegland West Ashbourne, County Meath 2,500 [15]
2008 Sydney AFL 43 def.
Mahoney Park Marrickville, New South Wales [16]
2011 VAFA 28 def.
Donaghmore Ashbourne 26
Killegland West Ashbourne, County Meath [13]
2011 VAFA 7 def. by
Ireland GAA 81
Croke Park Dublin, County Dublin [13]
2013 VAFA 102 def.
Na Piarsaigh 16
Páirc Uí Chonaire Cork City, County Cork [17]
2013 VAFA 0.10.9 (39) def. by
Combined Dublin Universities 4.10.3 (57)
St Vincent's GAA Club Marino, Dublin, County Dublin [18]


International rules also has a masters category with several competitions. There is also a Masters International Rules Series which follows the format of the senior men's series and involves many retired Australian Rules and Gaelic Football players.

International rules football around the world

The June 2014 International Rules match at the University of Birmingham

International rules is played in various locations throughout North America and the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand between fledgling Australian rules football and Gaelic football clubs.

In 2006, an exhibition match between South African youth teams and an Indigenous Australian touring side composed of players from the Clontarf Foundation, led by Sydney's Adam Goodes, was held at Potchefstroom.

The University of Birmingham, UK, holds an annual International Rules match between its Australian Rules football team and its Gaelic Football team, with the 2013 edition won by the Australian Rules team 56–55, before a crowd of over 400 students.[19]

In the International Rules Series, the most well-known International Rules event, Australia and Ireland are at an impasse, with 10 series wins apiece. Most recently in 2017, Australia defeated Ireland with two Test wins and an aggregate score of 116-103.

See also


  1. ^ "History of International Rules Football". Retrieved 18 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Heaney, Paddy (23 October 2008). "The rules of engagement: A brief guide". The Irish News. p. 58.
  3. ^ "Rule changes for International series agreed". 14 June 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b Heaney, Paddy (23 October 2008). "Time for talk is over". The Irish News. p. 58.
  6. ^ "No more short kick-outs for International Rules". 22 July 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Breffni Park hosts first-ever women's International Rules tie". Irish Examiner. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 26 October 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Brave Aussie ladies like ewes to the slaughter in Ireland". World Footy News. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Image A6180, 29/7/83/11". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
  10. ^ a b c Peter Parry. "Ireland take U-17 IR series 2-1". World Footy News. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  11. ^ a b Peter Parry. "Two drawn Tests and Under 17's series rests on Fremantle Test". World Footy News. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  12. ^ Peter Parry. "Australia win decider in youth IR series". World Footy News. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  13. ^ a b c "Big V in Ireland". Archived from the original on 6 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d Peter Parry. "Under 23 Australian Amateurs tour of Ireland". World Footy News. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  15. ^ a b Peter Parry. "Australian Amateurs Under 23 tour of Ireland". World Footy News. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Latest News - AFL NSW ACT - SportsTG". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Big V Smashes Cork". Archived from the original on 6 March 2014.
  18. ^ "VAFA Fall to Combined Dublin Universities". Archived from the original on 6 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Aussie Rules claim victory against Gaelic Football". University of Birmingham. 6 June 2013. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.

External links

Andrew Kellaway

Andrew Kellaway (born 23 November 1975) is a former Australian rules football player who played for the Richmond Football Club in the AFL.

Educated at Caulfield Grammar School, Kellaway joined his brother Duncan at Richmond in 1997. He is a defender, and in his best AFL season, 2000, he won the club's best and fairest award and was a member of the All-Australian Team.

He played International rules football for Australia in 2000 and in 2002 he won the Jim Stynes Medal. Kellaway was Australia's goalkeeper for the 2002 series.

He was delisted by Richmond at the end of the 2006 season at age 30.

Anthony Tohill

Anthony Tohill (born 2 August 1971) is an Irish former Gaelic footballer who played for Derry in the 1990s and early 2000s. He was part of Derry's 1993 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship winning side, also winning two Ulster Championships and four National League titles with the county. Tohill won four All Star awards during his career. He played club football with Michael Davitt's Swatragh.

Tohill played in the half forward line early in his inter-county career, but is chiefly remember as a midfielder where he played for most of his career. Despite his role as the midfield anchor, he is one of the all-time top Ulster scorers in Championship football, even though most of his playing was done at a time when all teams could expect a lot less matches than they do now.Tohill has won five Irish News Ulster All-Star awards since its inception in 1995 (1995, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001) and was named midfield on the Irish News Team of the Decade in 2004. Tohill represented Ireland in four International Rules Series, was captain of the victorious 2001 team and was manager of the team for 2010. Tohill also played for Ulster for many years, winning six? Railway Cup medals with the province. He was described as an "exemplary trainer" during his playing days.

Australia international rules football team

This article concerns the men's team; for information on the Australian women's team, see Australia women's international rules football team.The Australia international rules football team is Australia's senior representative team in International rules football, a hybrid sport derived from Australian rules football and Gaelic football. The current team is solely made up of players from the Australian Football League.

Although Australian rules football is played around the world at an amateur level, Australia is considered far too strong to compete against at senior level. Hence, selection in the Australian international rules team is the only opportunity that Australian rules footballers have to represent their country. Until 2004 the majority of the men's Australian squad was composed of members of the All-Australian team, as well as other outstanding performers from the season. In 2005 the decision was made to select players best suited to the conditions of the hybrid game, which resulted in a younger, smaller and quicker team being selected. However this was reverted to the All-Australian model ahead of the 2014 series. For the 2013 Series only, the decision was made to select an all-Indigenous team, known as the Indigenous All Stars.Competing in the International Rules Series, the only team Australia plays against is the Ireland international rules football team. The series has been played intermittently since 1984. Australian under-age teams have been represented in the past, as well as a women's team in 2006. Australia last hosted the International Rules Series in 2014.

Australia women's international rules football team

The Australian women's international rules football team is the Australian women's representative team in international rules football, a hybrid of Australian rules football and Gaelic football.

The team was launched in 2006 for the purpose of competing against the Ireland women's international rules football team, organised by the Ladies' Gaelic Football Association, on an annual basis. However the 2006 tour was the only series to be played between the two nations.

Brad Green (footballer)

Brad Green (born 13 March 1981) is a former Australian rules football player and current North Melbourne development coach. He played for 13 seasons with Melbourne Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). Drafted with the 19th selection in the 1999 AFL Draft, Green played in a losing Grand Final in his first season. In 2010 he won the club's best and fairest award and was the club's leading goalkicker, with many commentators stating he was unlucky to miss out on All-Australian selection. Green was named Melbourne's captain for the next season, but the appointment was short-lived as he held the position for only one year. He also represented the Australian International rules football team in 2004, 2010 and 2011, captaining the side in 2011.

Green is now an assistant coach at North Melbourne, having previously been an assistant coach at the Carlton Football Club from 2013 to 2015.

Breffni Park

Breffni Park, known for sponsorship reasons as Kingspan Breffni, is a GAA stadium in Cavan, Ireland.

It is the home of the Cavan Gaelic football team. The ground has an overall capacity of about 32,000 with a 6,000 seated capacity. Breffni is the historic name for area of Cavan/Leitrim. Cavan is often referred to as the Breffni County. The opening game of the 2013 International Rules Series took place in Kingspan Breffni in October.

Kingspan Breffni is located on Park Lane to the south of Cavan town, see Map In 2006, the first ever women's match in international rules football was played between Australia and Ireland there. The venue also holds the world record for the twelve-hour continuous relay race.

Brian McEniff

Brian McEniff (born 1 December 1942) is a former Gaelic football manager. Regarded as a Gaelic football Godfather-type figure, the high point of his managerial career was his masterminding of Donegal's 1992 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final victory over Dublin. In his most recent spell as manager of his county team he led them to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-finals in 2003.

McEniff has also managed Ulster for 25 years from 1982 until 2007, and has coached the Ireland international rules football team to victory over the Australia international rules football team in Australia. As a player, he received an All Star Award in 1972 and twice won the Ulster Senior Football Championship. He has also been a referee.

Hybrid sport

A hybrid sport is one which combines two or more (often similar) sports in order to create a new sport, or to allow meaningful competition between players of those sports.

The most popular hybrid sport in terms of attendance and television viewers is international rules football.

International Rules Series

The International Rules Series is a senior men's international rules football competition between the Australia international rules football team (selected by the Australian Football League) and the Ireland international rules football team (selected by the Gaelic Athletic Association). The series is played close to annually in October or November after the completion of the AFL Grand Final and the All-Ireland Football Final which are both traditionally played in late September. The matches are played using a set of compromise rules decided upon by both the two governing bodies; known formally as international rules football. While the International Rules Series matches use some rules from Australian rules football, the field, ball and uniforms of both teams are all from Gaelic football.

The two teams contest a trophy, which in 2004 was named the Cormac McAnallen Cup—after the Tyrone team captain Cormac McAnallen, whose death that year from a heart condition came after he had represented Ireland in the previous three series.

The concept for the series originates from the Australian Football World Tour, which took place in 1967. The first series took place in Ireland in 1984 under a three match format, whereby the team accumulating the most wins from the series gained victory. Following poor Australian crowds and relative lack of interest in 1990, the series was revived in 1998 under a two match aggregate points format. In a bid to revitalise the public interest in the concept, the 2014 series was reduced to a one-off test match featuring exclusively All-Australian players.

The series alternates host countries each appropriate year between Ireland and Australia. Since the commencement of the modern era series in 1998, the average attendance up to the conclusion of the 2014 series was 42,898. On two occasions have test matches sold out in Australia, both in Perth in 2003 and 2014. The first entire series to sell out was in Ireland in 2006 when a combined record crowd of 112,127 was set, as well as the largest international sports fixture at Croke Park for the second test.The tests were indefinitely postponed by the GAA in 2007 following the 2006 Series, citing a series of violent onfield incidents. However, the series resumed in October 2008 in Australia, after the GAA and AFL reached collective agreement on a revised set of rules. The 2013 series was notable for the inclusion of an Australian team made up of exclusively Indigenous players, known as the Indigenous All Stars.

The most recent series was won by Australia. The next series is likely to take place in 2020.

Ireland international rules football team

This article concerns the men's team; for information on the Irish women's team, see Ireland women's international rules football team.The Ireland international rules football team is the representative team for Ireland in international rules football, a compromise between Gaelic football and Australian rules football. The team is made up of Irish players from the Gaelic Athletic Association and Australian Football League.

Prior to 2006, an under-19 and under-17 team had participated in a similar series, while a women's representative team participated in 2006 only. Currently, the Ireland team plays at least one of its home games at Croke Park, with recent alternative venues being Pearse Stadium in Galway in 2006, the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick in 2010 and Breffni Park in Cavan in 2013.

At present the only team Ireland plays is the Australia international rules football team, on an annual basis in the International Rules Series. As of 2015, Ireland have won ten of 19 series, won 21 of 40 test matches played and participated in two draws, all since the inaugural 1984 Series.

Ireland women's international rules football team

The Ireland women's international rules football team is the Ireland women's representative team in international rules football.

The team was launched in 2006 by the Ladies' Gaelic Football Association, for the purpose of competing against the Australia women's international rules football team, organised by Women's Football Australia, on an annual basis. However the 2006 series was the only series to be played between the two nations.

John Miskella

John Miskella (born 7 March 1978) is an Irish former sportsperson. He played Gaelic football with the Ballincollig club and with the Cork senior inter-county team.

Kick (football)

Kicking is a skill used in many types of football, including:

Association football

Australian rules football

International rules football

American football

Canadian football

Gaelic football

Rugby league

Rugby unionKicking is the act of propelling a ball by striking it with the foot or, depending upon the sport, the shin. Kicking is most common in Association Football, where only the two goalkeepers are allowed to use their hands. It is also the primary method of transferring the ball in Australian rules football and Gaelic football. Whereas most sports allow points to be scored by methods other than kicking, in Australian rules football kicking for goal is the only method allowed to score a goal and get the maximum six point score. Kicking is used less frequently in Rugby League, Rugby Union, American football, and Canadian football, and may be restricted to specialist positions, but it is still an important tactical skill in each sport.

Ladies' Gaelic Football Association

The Ladies' Gaelic Football Association (Irish: Cumann Peil Gael na mBan) is the organisation which promotes and regulates ladies' Gaelic football in Ireland.

The association has also selected the Ireland women's international rules football team, which will play the Australia women's international rules football team in international rules football for the first time in 2006.

Michael O'Loughlin

Michael Kevin O'Loughlin (born 20 February 1977) is a former professional Australian rules footballer, who played his entire Australian Football League career with the Sydney Swans.

O'Loughlin was named a member of the Indigenous Team of the Century. He was the third player with Indigenous heritage to play 300 AFL games. He twice achieved All-Australian selection, played for Australia twice in the International Rules Series, and was a Fos Williams Medallist as best player for South Australia in State of Origin. O'Loughlin was the first Sydney Swans player to play more than 300 career games. In 303 games he kicked 521 career goals.

Mike Frank Russell

Mike Frank Russell (born 1977) is an Irish sportsperson. He plays Gaelic football with his local club Laune Rangers and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from 1997 until 2009.

Seamus Moynihan

Séamus Moynihan is a former Irish Gaelic footballer from Shronedarraugh, a townland half way between Barraduff and Glenflesk, County Kerry. He has played football for St Brendan's College, Glenflesk, East Kerry, University College Cork, Institute of Technology Tralee, Kerry Minor, U21 and Senior teams, Munster Railway Cup side and Ireland International Rules Football team. He was a member of the Kerry Senior Football Panel from 1992 to 2006. He resides in Shronedarraugh with his wife Noreen, son Jamie and two daughters Clíona and Eve.

Seán Boylan

Seán Boylan is an Irish former Gaelic football manager from Dunboyne, County Meath. He retired from his position as manager of the Meath GAA Senior Football team on the evening of 31 August 2005 after twenty-three years in charge. During his time with Meath, he managed the team to four All-Ireland Senior Football Championships (1987, 1988, 1996, 1999), three National Football League titles, and eight Leinster Senior Football Championships.

In recognition of his services to Meath GAA and his services to Meath as a county, Boylan was conferred as Freeman of the County of Meath – the first (and only) person ever to be bestowed with the title – on 23 April 2006. He was entered into the GAA Hall of Fame for his services to Meath football at a ceremony after Meath's Leinster Minor Football Championship victory over Offaly in Croke Park on 16 July 2006.

Shaun Burgoyne

Shaun Playford Burgoyne (born 21 October 1982) is an Australian rules footballer playing with the Hawthorn Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). Burgoyne played with Port Adelaide through to 2002 to 2009 before being traded to Hawthorn in late 2009, where he has now played the majority of his games. With 35 finals appearances, Burgoyne has the second most finals appearances of any AFL footballer, behind only Michael Tuck.

At 36 years old, he is currently the oldest active AFL player. He is also the last active AFL player who participated in any AFL Grand Final from 2005 or earlier.

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