For the good of the game, umpires must put the whistle away

Max Hatzoglou Roar Rookie

By Max Hatzoglou, Max Hatzoglou is a Roar Rookie

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    The game is known on a wider scale as a contact sport. When an outside viewer sees free kicks being paid that are contentious or of a technical nature, they get confused and frustrated.

    Where did that come from? How was that a free kick? Most of the time, the questions are left unanswered due to the pace at which things escalate in the game so people are left feeling detached from the game.

    As if they don’t know enough about the game to be an authentic follower. This is common among women as they are getting more interested in the game, particularly after the launch of the women’s competition last year. To support the AFLW, the game needs to continue increasing its rate of female participation. In order to do so, it must address this issue of confusion to technical free kicks.

    Over recent time, the ten metres protected area rule for a player who has marked the ball has caused these questions to be repeatedly asked. It was brought in for a great reason, to stop players from “guarding [the] inside so that you can’t move the ball back inside”. Further on, St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said “It looked like it wasn’t officiated in the spirit in which it was intended to”, for one of the games he witnessed on the weekend.

    Prior to St Kilda’s game against Essendon where there were none paid, he asked the umpires about the rule. They said to him that they didn’t address the rule during the week. In some cases after a round, the umpires as a whole will gather to focus and talk about a certain rule(s) and the way in which it should be interpreted.

    It was confirmed on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Monday night through Richardson and host, Gerard Whateley that the umpires did not have a meeting as a whole to discuss the interpretation of the rule. A point that many have brought up: the interpretation of the rule by the umpires.

    From the nine games of Round 16, eight free kicks were paid for ten-metre protection area infringements. The AFL’s Umpires Association admitted to two of them being paid incorrectly. Of the six that they believed were free kicks, I believed only two. As a follower of the AFL who watches between three and six games per round, I think that there’d be quite a few who believe the same.

    When Brad Scott was asked whether the protected area rule was a problem, the North Melbourne coach said: “for the frustration of everyone, yes”. The frustration of the rule has clearly been widespread with Brad Scott suggesting that “It’s going to drive people nuts if something doesn’t change.”

    Funnily enough, Scott said that North Melbourne halfback “Jamie MacMillan suggested that he maybe should’ve brought back a hot dog for the umpire after he’s run into the crowd to get out of the protected area”

    The interpretation of the rule is where the problem lies and needs change.

    It is something that the AFL Umpires Association will need to put on top of their agenda. They need to get a better understanding of how to interpret the rule and provide clarity for all stakeholders of the game. In this case, it would be wise to put their whistles away and only pay it when it is infringed as the spirit of the rule was intended.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2018 @ 8:19am
      Wayne said | July 10th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      The way the rule is written is broken, not the interpretation. The fact that the umpires need to interpret the rule and determine the outcome is where the issue is.

      Fundamentally, this specific rule can be fixed with, the ball carrier needs to be impeded by a player being within the 10m protected zone. The mere existence of being there is in itself not a breach.

      Field Hockey has this same rule, except its 5m (rather than 10m). But to constitute a breach, the team in possession must be disadvantaged AND the player that is within the 5m protected zone has to engage in the play for it to be paid. Purely being within the zone itself is not a breach of the rules.

      • July 10th 2018 @ 9:16am
        BigAl said | July 10th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        This is true. It is true of so many rules in Aussie rules and has been perpetuated and tolerated for years because of the general love and pride in the game (“Our Game”) by all concerned parties.

        This will have to change due to . . . the times we live in.

        I’ve carried on here many times about comments made here like “why don’t the umps just do this…”; ” why don’t they pay that?…”
        The fact is these rules are just so hard to pick up given the speed and space of the game.
        As in life, if a rule can’t be consistently and fairly applied then it is a bad rule and needs to be more tightly and clearly defined.
        Having umpires rule on what they see is on the mind of a player is a joke, embarrassing and ridiculous ! – DELIBERATE OOB and rushed behinds, I’m looking at you.

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2018 @ 9:13am
      Peter the Scribe said | July 10th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      The umpires have been told to pay free kicks to clear the clog footy scrums and have become trigger happy as a result. The four umpires have confused things with disagreements between umps as they all look to impose themselves on the game instead of being accurate. Coll V Ess was the worst umpiring I have ever seen and luckily it heavily favoured the Pies.

    • July 10th 2018 @ 9:21am
      jacques of Lilydale said | July 10th 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      Umpires don’t have a feel for the game, there’s so many of them. The zone rule is open to interpretation and it shows the lack of nous umpires have when they use their discretion. Just ridiculous. Too many rule changes, too many players in a quarter of the ground, the game is unwatchable half the time. Sydney and Fremantle game styles are rugby like and a blot on the game. Throw in a plethora of clueless umpires and you end up with a debacle.
      That is the summation of our once great game.

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2018 @ 10:00am
      Peter the Scribe said | July 10th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      The players are joining the chorus, rule changes are coming – have no doubt.

      http://www.afl.com.au/news/2018-07-10/bring-back-the-magic-stars-implore-afl

      • July 10th 2018 @ 5:02pm
        Pope Paul VII said | July 10th 2018 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

        I love how Davis advises not asking coaches and players about rules as they don’t care as long as they win! Funny and insightful.

    • July 10th 2018 @ 1:07pm
      IAP said | July 10th 2018 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

      God forbid that the umpires might use some judgement and umpire within the spirit of the game. The protected zone rule is an abomination, and so is the current “interpretation” of holding the man in the marking contest.
      I wrote this on another article, and I’ll repeat it: we need to go back to two umpires. The game is over umpired. We need the umpires to make less decisions, not more. We need them to look for reasons to not give a free kick, not for reasons to give a free kick.
      The stuff about the pace of the game is crap. I can see from the boundary line if someone is infringed or not; the umpires continually get it wrong.

      • Roar Guru

        July 10th 2018 @ 1:21pm
        Dalgety Carrington said | July 10th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

        Why don’t you go and sign up to umpire at some local footy? Might be good to get your razor sharp judgement at work. Everyone will love the way you umpire, given you’ll find it so easy to make the right calls.

        • July 10th 2018 @ 1:49pm
          BigAl said | July 10th 2018 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          Beat me to it ! I would go further and suggest he apply for a position on the AFL Umpires coaching panel

      • Roar Rookie

        July 10th 2018 @ 2:01pm
        Max Hatzoglou said | July 10th 2018 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

        Yes, the umpires should pay less free kicks and let the game run. This will make it more free flowing and entertaining. Hearing a whistle blow every 40 seconds for a free kick is not what fans will want to hear. Let this great game of ours run on the players terms, not the umpires.

    • July 10th 2018 @ 1:47pm
      Savvas Jonis said | July 10th 2018 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

      Australian Rules has gone from being the best football code in the world to the worst!

      The coaches have ruined the game, NOT the rule-makers.

      The coaches have taken every aspect of the game and squeezed every attacking element out of it.

      I do not blame them, as they are there to win.

      But they should never be allowed to formulate reviews of existing laws.

      And the laws will and SHOULD always be reviewed.

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