It’s time for the AFL to stop dragging the chain

Gazbo Roar Guru

By Gazbo, Gazbo is a Roar Guru


25 Have your say

    The reluctance by the AFL to send players off or at the very least to introduce a sin bin is hard to comprehend given the ever increasing number of players that are unable to complete a match due to rough conduct.

    Under the current system a team is greatly disadvantaged through no fault of their own while there is no action taken against the offending team.

    A perfect example of this was in the Round 17 clash between Fremantle and Port Adelaide when Fremantle’s Ryan Nyhuis slammed Robbie Gray to the turf with a dangerous tackle which concussed Gray and left him unable to continue in the Mmatch.

    This meant that Port Adelaide were a man down for the rest of the match and in a hard fought close tussle they went down by nine points.

    With every match crucial at this stage of the season for those clubs who are in contention for the top eight, a loss could have huge ramifications.

    It seems unfair that a team can lose one of their star players due to rough conduct and there is no immediate disciplinary action taken against the offenders.

    Sure, Nyhuis was referred to the AFL Tribunal and given a three–game ban, but that didn’t change the result or offer Port Adelaide any solace after their defeat.

    It’s high time that the AFL gives serious consideration to introducing a new system whereby if a team loses a player during a match through rough conduct that they can substitute another so that they aren’t disadvantaged.

    At the same time the offending player should be sent off either to the sin bin or for the rest of the match, depending on the severity of his rough conduct to act as a deterrent and to take away any advantage that the offending team has under the current system.

    The AFL was the last of the major codes to embrace Video Technology and once again it seems to be dragging the chain by allowing players to remain on the field after committing an act of clear and blatant rough conduct.

    Until the AFL draws a line in the sand and enforces tougher disciplinary action during a match for rough conduct players will only continue to transgress, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be sent off.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • July 23rd 2018 @ 2:49am
      Julian said | July 23rd 2018 @ 2:49am | ! Report

      Who would adjudicate this? Does Michael Christian watch games concurrently? Do we give responsibility to already overworked umpires?

      We already have little to no consistency from the MRO. Expecting on the fly decisions to be accurate without a cooling period to reflect is very optimistic.

      And what would the criteria be? A non-football act like a strike or simply rough ill-timed contact? This code has far too many shades of grey. The current score review system is a mess and contrary to your article Association Football only recently mandated VAR and honestly it’s still a joke. Rushing into things hasn’t proven wise in the past.

      Australian Rules is just too subjective for a send off. Hurn sent Honeychurch to hospital this weekend. He’d be unlucky to be suspended, imagine the outrage if he got sent off.

      The game is tough, but it’s not dirty like in yesteryear. In my opinion the current system of punishment is adequate. Sometimes outcomes are simply unfair.

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 6:35am
        Slane said | July 23rd 2018 @ 6:35am | ! Report

        The umpires/referees in pretty much every other sport on the planet have the power to issue red cards. Why make out like it’s impossible for AFL umpires to do the same?

        • July 23rd 2018 @ 5:06pm
          Dexter The Hamster said | July 23rd 2018 @ 5:06pm | ! Report


          However, the “leave the game alone” crowd will be in full voice, seemingly unaware of the world around them.

        • July 23rd 2018 @ 10:55pm
          MQ said | July 23rd 2018 @ 10:55pm | ! Report

          Let’s reduce the number of umpires to one, who not only can issue yellow and red cards, but can decide the end of the match by the blow of his whistle (and we’ll give the boundary umps little flags to wave around).

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 7:23am
        truetigerfan said | July 23rd 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        Yeah, good response, Julian. I assume Gazbo is a Port supporter feeling a little ripped off. Fair enough I suppose. The Hurn incident you refer to is the perfect reason why this concept should never be followed through with. Shouldn’t be suspended, won’t be hopefully, but under this proposed system would be at risk of being sent off. Nup. Surely not.

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 10:36am
        Kevo said | July 23rd 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

        Don’t disagree about Hurn but even if it was the wrong decision it only has the impact of evening up playing numbers – especially if limited to how long the player injured was off the ground for. Other levels of Australian rules football have the send off rule why is the AFL such a special case.

        • July 23rd 2018 @ 3:11pm
          Julian said | July 23rd 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

          The lower grades have send offs because there aren’t cops and security around and things can get out of hand.

          Yes if Hurn went off you’d even up the numbers, but not necessarily the quality. If anything you’d encourage the Jed Lambs of the world to run through players.

    • Roar Guru

      July 23rd 2018 @ 7:26am
      Paul Dawson said | July 23rd 2018 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      I reckon the only way you could structure it would be to have it tied to 2 things

      1. Did a player fail a concussion test?
      2. Was a player reported over the incident at the time?

      If both those criteria are met – and I think also, did the incident happen in the first half of football – then the reported player takes no further part in the game.

      Some have said you’d have situations where rookie players are throwing themselves in front of Nat Fyfe or Dustin Martin’s fist to try and get them rubbed out – I disagree entirely with that premise, it doesn’t stand up to any sort of critical thought about how humans think and function.

      Not saying it’s perfect, but I do agree that the lack of in-game consequences for foul play is very strange, particularly given the size of the squads in our game.

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 5:10pm
        Dexter The Hamster said | July 23rd 2018 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

        Tend to agree Paul, except for your caveat about the incident occurring in the first half. Not sure the timing matters a great deal.

    • July 23rd 2018 @ 8:39am
      me too said | July 23rd 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

      So on one Roar blog we have ryan decrying the media for pushing for rule changes, yet over here we’re calling for the most radical change ever seen in the game?

      • Roar Guru

        July 23rd 2018 @ 8:48am
        Paul Dawson said | July 23rd 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        Are you advocating for censorship of free speech?

      • Roar Guru

        July 23rd 2018 @ 10:03am
        JamesH said | July 23rd 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        It’s not a rule change in terms of actually affecting the way the game is played, though. It’s far less interference than say, eliminating the third man up.

        I really like the concept but it would need some serious thought as to how it is implemented. They might need something like a provisional send-off for a few minutes where a match referee then has a chance to rule on whether the player can return or whether the incident warrants sitting out the match.

        • July 23rd 2018 @ 5:16pm
          Dexter The Hamster said | July 23rd 2018 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

          Yes, good call. Then we would have something other sports could look to.

    • July 23rd 2018 @ 10:47am
      Kris said | July 23rd 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      This rule does exist in the lower grades of AFL football as well; for example the SANFL and all the community leagues. The AFL itself might be one of the few aussie rules leagues that doesn’t have it.

      I don’t the rule would be used for any of the incidents we currently discuss, it is often just for a second reportable offence in the same match.

      I think we do need it for the situations we haven’t seen yet. Imagine a grand final. Imagine the opening bounce. Someone starts swinging haymakers at any opposition player he can catch up with. There is nothing the umps could do and the premiership could be decided by how many blokes my imaginary thug catches up with. A life ban way well not bother him as he puts his medal on the mantlepiece and heads off to retirement.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 23rd 2018 @ 11:31am
        Pedro The Fisherman said | July 23rd 2018 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        Does Alastair Lynch ring any bells?

        • Roar Guru

          July 23rd 2018 @ 11:44am
          Paul Dawson said | July 23rd 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          Fortunately for Alistairs’ reputation and for Port that day, he could only catch up with one bloke in Darryl Wakelin and he couldn’t land any of them anyway

          That remains one of the most baffling on-field meltdowns I’ve ever seen on a football field.

    • Roar Guru

      July 23rd 2018 @ 10:48am
      Wayne said | July 23rd 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      I never quite understand the concept of the teams being “a man down”. You still put 18 players on the park, you just have one less interchange player available.

      Not quite to the extreme of players throwing themselves into harms way, but “being cautious” on the outcome of a concussion test for the purpose of rubbing an opponent out could become a thing. If Fyfe/Dangerfield/Dusty did the bump and the player is shaken, say its concussion and rub them out. No one will question doctors being cautious and precautionary with head injuries.

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 5:25pm
        Dexter The Hamster said | July 23rd 2018 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

        Its a man down on the interchange, which means quite a lot (ask any coach).

        And just watch any sport that has a send off rule, and you will see this just does not happen. Its all in your head. We need to relax on the whole “it will be rigged” ideal, and focus on the “its the right thing to do” ideal.

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 5:38pm
        Pope Paul VII said | July 23rd 2018 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

        North beat Essendon with 17 men for the entire last quarter, back in the 70s. I don’t think a team has been down to 17 since. Possibly not before either.

        • July 23rd 2018 @ 10:52pm
          MQ said | July 23rd 2018 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

          In Rd 6, 1977, Essendon hosted Footscray at Windy Hill.

          Essendon led at quarter time 6.6 to 5.1. Footscray gradually got on top, but late in the 3rd quarter Essendon was reduced to 17 men, by which time Footscray had leapt to a 18.11 to 11.9 lead.

          With a one man advantage for the whole of the final quarter, Footscray piled on 11 goals to win 29.15 to 13.11, being a 100 point win.

          I’d say over the course of 121 years of VFL/AFL history, Footscray would not have scored too many 100 pt wins against Essendon, certainly not at Windy Hill, nor would they have scored 29 goals too many times (although they did happen to kick a then record 33 goals against St Kilda the following year).

          This is why anyone who thinks the AFL should have a soccer-style red card system doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

          • July 23rd 2018 @ 11:31pm
            Pope Paul VII said | July 23rd 2018 @ 11:31pm | ! Report


            I’ve been trying to find the game I was referring to but no luck.

    • July 23rd 2018 @ 3:57pm
      Sir Ossis said | July 23rd 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

      My experience with a send-off rule in country footy was not good.

      Umpires used it very excessively and with nearly all send-offs used on either players challenging umpiring decisions or, at worst, jumper punches or tummy taps where a free kick was most appropriate.

      Approach with caution.

      Also, I am sure we all await with interest Michael Christian’s MRP review of the three dangerous head-high hits on Crows players in the second half (the Cutler ‘Jezza Cameron look-a-like charge’ in particular).

      The AFL want Brisbane to do well, but the silence on these reportable incidents in the media is alarming.

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 5:26pm
        Dexter The Hamster said | July 23rd 2018 @ 5:26pm | ! Report


      • Roar Rookie

        July 24th 2018 @ 4:54am
        Mick Jeffrey said | July 24th 2018 @ 4:54am | ! Report

        I have to be careful what I say given I’m still involved in local footy, but I can certainly concur that certain umpires will send players off should they argue against free kicks much like AFL players do. Often it is zero tolerance on even asking why a decision was played against them, as in if you so much say the word Why or But it will be at the very least a 50 and a last warning that if it continues the player will be sitting for 15 minutes game time (which can be up to 30 minutes actual time). The only differences in reality between the local umpires and those we see at the elite level is a lower rate and they don’t bounce the ball.

        • July 24th 2018 @ 8:02am
          MQ said | July 24th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          Thankfully the there is not huge support for a yellow-red card system within the AFL.

          In soccer, the ref is judge, jury and executioner all at once and has other powers, like determining the end of the match on his own.

          AFL umps do not have such powers, and I would think the majority of AFL fans are fine with that. The guilt of any offence which goes beyond the granting of an onfield penalty, or otherwise, is determined via a separate process, and thank goodness for that.