A reasoned solution to the rushed behind controversy
The last week we witnessed mass hysteria over the Richmond Football Clubs’ Joel Bowden and his deliberate rushed behinds in the dying moments of last week’s game against the Essendon Football Club.
An important moment of play ended in a no-contest and Richmond went on to win the game and the obligatory four premiership points. At least that’s what history will show us.
I am amazed that through the diversity of suggestions for rule changes I have been privy to this week; I have not heard my proposed suggestion offered.
The radio and other popular media coverage and discussion has been astounding. I would be very surprised if I was the first person to have thought of the idea, but like stated, I am yet to hear it from either a respected football commentator or the common passionate supporter. My dismay is even further exacerbated due to the solution being so close to home; a slight tweak of an existing rule and the problems is solved, ‘spirit of the game (keeping the game competitive)’ in tact.
Let me firstly state that I don’t necessarily agree that the rule needs changing, but if there were to be a change to ensure that both the ‘spirit of the game’ and behavior we uphold as ‘Australian’, remains, then I believe the following to be the solution.
At present a defending player kicking the football into the field of play from a defending goal square after a behind has been awarded, must ensure that the football is touched by at least one of the other 35 players on the field before it goes out of bounds. Otherwise the resultant penalty is a free kick to the opposition player closest to the position where the ball crosses the boundary line.
Why not simply extend the current existing rule, applicable only to the “boundary line” to incorporate a “dead ball” notion. This notion would cover both boundary and goal lines and would result in the defender having to dispose of the ball constructively or concede a free kick to the attacking team in the goal square as a penalty. The concept would also cover the scenario when players kick the ball to themselves and play on, as the requirement would still be for the ball to be touched by another player before it becomes a “dead ball” again.
The proposed rule change would have merit with even the most stubborn of ‘traditionalists’, as after all, its derivative rule, has long been accepted without any evident discontent. Ultimately fans are happy because they will not ever have to endure what they witnessed in the dying moments of last week’s game, and most importantly the overall impact on the game would be very minimal.
Now for the debate of whether the rule needs changing in the first place. Perhaps next time.
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