In the AFL more so than ever performance is judged in the context of a club’s age profile. Old teams are judged harshly and young teams are given more leeway.
Sitting on the couch last Saturday watching the Adelaide Oval spectacle, it was an environment fuelled with gusto and frustration.
There was gusto for the yellow and black, frustration for the fluorescent green. The game we all live and breathe can be an emotional roller-coaster.
A set of rules have been introduced this season by the new ‘competition committee’ in the hope of combatting congestion and bringing back a traditional flavour to the game fans have yearned for.
The nine rules and new interpretations include:
AFL journalist Nick Bowen has pinpointed the reasons why they were implemented – to “produce more free-flowing, instinctive football and more one-on-one contests”. I can understand these new rules and adjusted interpretations; however, are fans frustrated? Should some other rules be prioritised over others? Are there just too many new rules?
There are definitely some grey areas the AFL need to recognise. First and foremost, the new competition committee needs to revise the controversial ‘contact below the knees’ rule. After a series of broken legs, the rule was fittingly introduced. However, players take advantage of the rule far too often and as a result get a free kick because apparently it is deemed dangerous to put your head over the ball.
The ball-winner in this situation is never rewarded and could subsequently change the manner in which a bullish midfielder attacks a ground ball. An outspoken Patrick Dangerfield on Twitter labelled the rule as an “absolute disgrace”. The Cats superstar and AFLPA president may need to sit down with fellow committee colleague Steve Hocking to address the issue and later fine-tune it at season’s end.
Contact below the knees.. absolute disgrace. #AFLPiesEagles
— Patrick Dangerfield (@dangerfield35) April 6, 2019
Moreover, the new runner rule, whereby a runner can enter the field of play only after a goal, is debatable. Was it Chad Cornes’s tactical antics as a Port Adelaide runner or Alex Woodward’s interference of play in last year’s grand final that spurred the committee to determine this outcome? If so, this is not conclusive enough to make it a rule change.
Runners are prized assets within footy clubs who deliver constructive feedback to players during games. The deteriorating absence of runners may place inexperienced teams at a disadvantage, especially Carlton, who are in dire need of help, having won three games in a season and a half. The new interchange boards have been a debacle and an ineffective system of communication, leaving players, coaches and administration staff confused.
As it is only Round 5, and time will tell whether these implemented rule changes are mandatory within the game or not. While progress has been made early in the season, the competition committee still has a lot to answer for.